Police chiefs, sheriffs and their organizations around the U.S. favor President Obama’s Deferred Action Policy which will give limited and temporary immigration benefits (such as the ability to temporarily stay and work in the U.S. with a federal ID card) to parents of U.S. citizens and green-card holders. They hope to persuade the Supreme Court and filed an amici curiae (“friends of the court”) brief supporting Obama’s Deferred Action Policy. Their message is clear: Safer communities and more effective crime prevention and apprehension result when people come out of the shadows. Here are the facts they presented:
- Community policing is vital to effectively stopping or catching child predators, drug dealers, rapists and robbers. The police need full cooperation of victims and witnesses, and depend on trust and engagement with the communities they protect. Trust is undermined, and law enforcement suffers, when undocumented individuals fear interaction with the police.
- Fear of deportation, for themselves, their loved ones, or their friends, prevents many from cooperating with, or even contacting, the police. Police cannot prevent or solve crimes if victims and witnesses are unwilling to talk.
- The underreporting of crimes means serious criminals go unpunished, free to prey on more victims. Communities with undercounted crimes get less law-enforcement resources. Crimes multiply, fear increases, residents are frustrated, and policing suffers.
- When immigrants feel secure in stepping out of the shadows, they are much more willing to work cooperatively with police. Under the already-existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), two thirds of the recipients reported being less afraid of law enforcement.
- Police are burdened by those without identification. A simple traffic stop becomes an hours-long detour to fingerprint someone at the police station. On the other hand, individuals with deferred action can receive a federal employment authorization document (“EAD”), for which they must first be fingerprinted. They are then in law enforcement’s data base, and the issued EAD contains the recipient’s identifying information and a photograph. Law enforcement time, money and personnel are spared when police can readily identify victims, witnesses and potential suspects.
These law enforcement professionals aren’t “soft” on border security. They support federal efforts to prevent illegal U.S. entry, to secure our borders, and support increased resources for appropriate enforcement agencies. They also know that these measures alone do not keep communities safe, and for that reason are advocating for President Obama’s immigration orders.