There is a bill pending before the U.S. Congress that would put the burden of immigration enforcement back on state and local law enforcement agencies. As an abstract idea this may sound good, but in reality, this would put a real burden on on our city governments and our police departments.
In a time when most cities are already having trouble adequately funding our law enforcement needs, this would raise the financial burden. Our jails are already overcrowded. Here in Tarrant County, we already have three county jails and money has been approved to build a fourth. If the immigration enforcement bill is passed, even more jails would be needed, and also more police officers would be needed. I believe it is an understatement to say it would increase the tax burden on citizens.
It would also hamper law enforcement in their efforts to control other crimes. Where are you going to put the criminals if the jails are full of illegal immigrants? It will also take time and manpower from criminal investigations and community police patrols. Officers arresting illegal aliens and processing the paperwork for that required by the federal government, will not be on the street protecting us from real criminals.
The bill would also create an unprotected underclass in our country. Those who are here illegally would no longer be able to call on police when they are the victims of crime - even violent crime. If these victims did call, they are the ones that would be treated as a criminal. The real criminals would have a whole group of people to victimize with little worry that police would be called.
I am not alone in believing that this local immigration enforcement bill is a really bad idea. Here is what some Tarrant County law enforcement officials have to say on the matter:
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson
"I don't have the jail space to start rounding up people innocently walking down the street who are in the country illegally but aren't otherwise doing anything wrong. This is a very sticky, controversial issue that law enforcement is going to have to step backand determine what our role is locally. I don't see us swinging back to the old ways in the near future of just seeing someone from another country and locking them up."
Fort Worth Police Chief Ralph Mendoza
"The pot has a hole in it, and it keeps leaking. Once they secure the border, then they can deal with the illiegal immigrants already here. They're [immigrants] not going to feel secure or safe enough to call for help. It was a problem years before, and it would be a problem again."
Grapevine Police Chief Eddie Salame
"I'm concerned that enforcing the federal law would set us back in the minority communities. We would create a group of people who would not be calling police anymore."
This is just a bad bill. If the federal government wants stricter enforcement of immigration, they need to fund and do it themselves. Our local communities and police agencies already have all they can handle. Another unfunded federal mandate would just make the situation worse, not better.