Sunday, July 02, 2006

Illegal Immigration & Law Enforcement: Creating the Perfect Victim

A few weeks ago at the Bloggers' Bash, I met John Harvey, a candidate for Shelby County Sheriff. I just checked in with his blog though, and I have to take issue with a position he's just taken.

From Crime In Memphis:

Today, Sheriff’s candidate John Harvey said if elected he would move to identify and arrest any illegal aliens within the jurisdiction of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Okay, I know the value of using a "red meat" issue to bring out Republican vote. But there are some serious problems with such a policy.

First, let's be honest--- It WILL drive down the crime rate--- But only superficially. All that you accomplish when you get local law enforcement involved with immigration issues is that you encourage underreporting of crime.

Let's say a young woman is here illegally. She's walking back to her home one night and gets raped. Will she report it? Not if it means being deported afterward.

This would create a trust issue within the illegal immigrant community. It's already tough enough to get an illegal immigrant to report a crime.

Even if you set a policy that ignores immigration issues for the purposes of reporting a crime, they're still not going to invite the law enforcement officer into their homes, knowing well that he could be knocking a week later and asking to see their green cards.

You don't end up solving any crime issue this way--- What you end up doing is creating a whole new class of "perfect victims"--- The criminal element of the city will target Hispanics in the hope that they're illegal and don't want to be deported.

The job of the sheriff is to create a safer environment for all who live within the county. When you create an environment where people are afraid to report crimes, you've made us an amusement park for the criminal element of the county.

Now, I'm hoping that you'll see this and adjust the course. I cannot support a candidate that doesn't acknowledge the problems with this policy.

Local law enforcement cannot and should not ever get involved in immigration policy. It's an imperative that anyone in Shelby County, regardless of race, class, or yes--- Immigration status be able to call the police when a crime has taken place. Are the people of Memphis any safer because the targets of a crime can't report it? No, the people of Memphis are safer when crime victims can call the sheriff and get criminals taken off of the street.

Think about the effect this could have on our Hispanic population that's legally here. A criminal could see brown skin, hear an accent, and decide it's worth rolling the dice.

You can't beat crime by creating a new class of "perfect victims".

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