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On a telephonic press conference today, law enforcement professionals from around the country denounced local enforcement tactics like those mandated by Arizona’s new immigration law, on the grounds that forcing police officers to check the status of those they suspect to be undocumented immigrants would strain limited resources, destroy the public trust needed to track down violent criminals and make it impossible for police to prioritize fighting serious crime.

For the past year, a chorus of law enforcement professionals has called public attention to the burdens local immigration enforcement places on police and the need for the federal government to step in to reform the broken immigration system. The passage of S.B. 1070 in Arizona has brought new urgency to this, as at least ten states are already considering legislation modeled on the Arizona law, including Nevada and Maryland.

Sheriff Mike Haley of Washoe County (Reno), Nevada, said, “Our immigration system is broken, and Congress must build a bipartisan, comprehensive solution. Arizona’s new law gives me no more power as a law enforcement executive than I already possess.”

“Immigration law is as complicated, if not more, than tax law. I don’t want one of my officers stopping somebody for running a stop sign and then spending the next two hours trying to determine if they’re here illegally or not,” said Chief J. Thomas Manger of Montgomery County, Maryland.

“Throughout the country, local and state law enforcement agencies continue to make great strides in community policing efforts that have improved police-community partnerships and reduced crime in most categories,” said Arturo Venegas, former Sacramento Police Chief and project director of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative, who moderated the call. “They and their jurisdictions are struggling with budgets and keeping appropriate staffing levels to fight violent and serious crime without having state laws, like the one in Arizona, imposing divisive and unfunded policing obligations on them that set their productive efforts back, put their officers, their communities and our nation at great risk.”

Source: Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative

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