In Letter to Congress, 63 Law Enforcement Leaders Express Immigration Enforcement Concerns

Communications Associate

March 1, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ahead of this morning’s Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on border policies and interior enforcement, 63 law enforcement leaders have sent the committee a letter on how to ensure public safety from a local, community-oriented policing perspective.

The writers urge a constructive immigration enforcement approach that prioritizes criminals and not peaceful residents and say such an approach is vital to preserving community safety.

In addition, a policy paper released this week, “A Path to Public Safety: The Legal Questions around Immigration Detainers,” addresses legal limitations on immigration detainers that steer cities and counties away from holding people for an extended period of time voluntarily.

“Building a relationship of trust between local law enforcement and our refugee and immigrant community members is foundational to providing safety for all,” said Police Chief William Bones of Boise, Idaho. “It is key for us to create programs and policy which foster stronger bonds for every member of our community and prevent creating roadblocks to communication.”

“The success of our community policing efforts depends heavily on providing all of our residents access, inclusivity and trust-based relationships with the men and women who are charged to serve and protect our community,” said Randy Gaber, Assistant Chief of Police of the Madison Police Department in Wisconsin. “When this trust is eroded by the fear of detainment and deportation for status and low-level offenses, the safety and security of our community is at risk.”

“In recent weeks, I’ve constantly had to address the fear that is spreading through our immigrant population inclusive of documented, refugee and undocumented community members related to proposed policies, rumors and safety concerns for themselves, their families and friends,” said Mark Prosser, Public Safety Director of Storm Lake, Iowa. “This climate has already begun to erode the relationships and community building that our department has worked on in an attempt to enhance and perfect our community policing processes.”

“Local law enforcement leaders are among the first to witness the tangible, costly effects of problematic changes to interior enforcement policies,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “They know that going after peaceful, longtime residents including parents and hardworking students with the same prioritization as violent criminals creates fear in communities and becomes a threat to public safety.”