Ten police chiefs from cities across the country, including three from Arizona, traveled to Washington, DC today to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder and reiterate what they’ve been saying for weeks: Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law will make their jobs harder, erode working relationships built on mutual trust and cooperation between law enforcement and immigrants, and make communities less safe. The federal government should step in to prevent more states from following suit.
Watch a clip from the AP:
The chiefs, representing cities and counties with large immigrant populations from Phoenix to Philadelphia, should know. Between them they have more than 100 years of policing experience and they know what works and what doesn’t work. What doesn’t work, they say, is state legislatures imposing new mandates on already stretched police departments requiring local officers to do the federal government’s job by going after illegal immigrants.
That message came through loud and clear during a news conference the chiefs held today. One after another they spoke of the challenges immigration enforcement laws such as Arizona’s present to police departments, including three police departments in Arizona – Phoenix, Tucson and Sahuarita – that are most likely to feel the effects first if the law goes into effect, as expected, on July 29.
“The primary job of local law enforcement is not immigration enforcement,” said Charlie Beck, Los Angeles’ police chief. “It is to protect the community from crime. The Arizona legislation does not do this. We now very well how to do our job and legislation like this inhibits us from doing our job.”