LEAGUE OF UNITED LATIN AMERICAN CITIZENS
2000 L Street, NW, Suite 610
|For Immediate Release
April 5, 2002
Contact: Gabriela Lemus
Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) today denounced the Department of Justice's (DOJ) efforts to deputize state and local police to enforce U.S. immigration laws in emergency situations and on a regular basis. The Office of Legal Counsel's proposal, will increase distrust between law enforcement officials and immigrant communities nationwide by reducing the confidence immigrants have in their local police, LULAC President Rick Dovalina said. This policy would result in widespread racial profiling of Hispanic and immigrant communities.
"LULAC members across the country have swamped my offices with calls expressing their concern about this possible decision," Dovalina said. "The DOJ's proposal to reverse the long- standing legal tradition that immigration is a federal matter and hand it over to local law enforcement agencies will only open the door for violations. Immigrant communities will be unable to access police services to which they are entitled to as a matter of local government's commitment to public safety. This decision poses a threat to good policing practices."
According to an April 3 Copley News Service/San Diego Union Tribune article, the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel is considering allowing state and local law enforcement agencies to arrest suspected illegal immigrants on civil charges. The decision is converse to current practice, but is based on the 1996 immigration law provision, Section 133, that encourages state and local law enforcement agencies to enter into agreements with the attorney general during times of immigration emergency and to seek immigration enforcement training through the Justice Department. Since the passage of the law, no agreements have been entered into because of a combination of high costs, fierce opposition from immigrant's rights activists and reluctance on the part of state and local law enforcement agencies. Attorney General John Ashcroft was scheduled to unveil the policy, but delayed it.
"The immigrant community will be placed in a position of not reporting crimes nor assisting in investigations of crime. The potential for abuse of power against immigrants and the Latino community will grow exponentially if this ruling is passed. Immigrants will be even more vulnerable to victimization as they will be afraid to contact their local police," Dovalina said. "No matter how they slice it, this troubling decision opens the door for an infringement of immigrants' civil rights and racial profiling."
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the
oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization in the United
States. LULAC advances the economic condition, educational attainment,
political influence, health, and civil rights of Hispanic Americans
through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC