In the election-season ruckus over immigration, an old idea has surfaced yet again: Should cops be able to deport people who are here illegally? A federal program that trains police to determine immigrants' legal status and initiate their removal from the country has drawn interest from agencies across the country, including ten from Texas. Both Farmers Branch and Irving have studied the initiative, though Irving ultimately opted against it. After the arrest of an undocumented immigrant who fatally shot a officer there, Houston police announced they'd work more closely with federal officials to identify and report illegal immigrants.
This may seem logical, but for cops trying to maintain decent relationships with Latino and immigrant communities, it's a bad idea. After all, who's going to report a robbery or come forward with information about a murder if they think they'll be deported?
"Sometimes crimes aren't reported simply because of fear, because immigrants see the officers as part of [immigration enforcement]," Levi Williams, manager of the Dallas Police Department's community affairs department, told Unfair Park. "I don't see how you can mix the two. Our effort is, how do we get them to report crimes and not be afraid?" Officer Gerardo Monreal made similar comments to The Dallas Morning News' Sherry Jacobson: "We've told these immigrants over and over again that we have nothing to do with immigration," said Monreal, who speaks Spanish and has been on the Dallas force for a decade. "If we start asking for documents, it may destroy our efforts to protect these people."
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Current city policy prohibits officers from stopping people to check their immigration documents, though immigrants who are arrested and found to be in the country illegally upon booking are subject to deportation.
After considering the change recently, Irving concluded the policy should be left as is.
"What I'd like to do is put the issue to bed, because I'm tired of talking about it," Mayor Herbert Gears told the city council. "We have learned...that it is a federal issue, and we should demand that the federal government secure the border... I don't want to continue a conversation that causes people to use words to hurt innocent people." --Megan Feldman