Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Your friendly neighborhood ICE agent

The Christian Science Monitor has an editorial about illegal immigrants and local police with a fascinating anecdote in it. The editorial is calling for towns to forbid their local police from acting as immigration police (contrary to a legal fad blooming across the nation of local governments taking immigration law into their own hands). It talks about a law passed by Rhode Island (if you were born after 1988, you'd probably know it as La Isla Rhode) that gives police the authority to stop anyone they "suspect" of being in the country illegally and inquire after their immigration status. The law is being trumpeted at a cost saving measure, absurdly enough – as if it's cheaper to collect taxes from and provide services to people who almost always work and are generally scared of the government than to root them out and arrest them. Anyway, here's a bit of the story:

Thankfully not all cities and states are taking such a hard-line approach. At the beginning of 2006, the mayor of New Haven, Conn., signed an order forbidding municipal police from enforcing federal immigration law or inquiring about any resident's citizenship.

The impact of the reform was immediate. In the first year that the policy was implemented, major crime fell by 18 percent in New Haven's immigrant neighborhood. In the world of police statistics, that kind of single-year drop is almost unheard of. The district commander attributes the drop to immigrants' willingness to work with police. "You do a lot of problem solving by having that trust with the community," he said.

Rhode Island's police do not seem worried about losing that trust though. Last week, the police chiefs association voted overwhelmingly to endorse Carcieri's reform. The president said the decision came after a "healthy discussion."

Why is it surprising that the people paid to enforce laws would want more of them, and that people paid to fight crime would want more of that?

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