Law Enforcement Leaders Support Broad Immigration Reform Efforts
**To listen to a recording of the press call, please click here.**
As the Senate continues debate on immigration reform legislation introduced by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” law enforcement leaders from around the country are attending an immigration briefing with White House officials this week. During a press call before the meeting, leaders spoke about the importance of broad, bipartisan immigration reform to help law enforcement keep communities safe, and they countered claims that the Senate bill is too lax on border security.
“I’m firmly convinced that increased border security and comprehensive reform can be achieved together, and by achieving them together, all of our communities are going to be much safer,” said Lawrence Stelma, sheriff of Kent County, Mich. “Immigration reform really impacts all of our communities, and it makes our communities much safer for all residents.”
“Our border is substantially more secure today than it has ever been. Not only that: This bill says we’re going to do even more,” added Mark Shurtleff, Republican former attorney general of Utah and a National Immigration Forum board member. “Anybody who’s suggesting otherwise just doesn’t know the facts.”
The law enforcement leaders agreed that commonsense immigration reform will strengthen community safety.
“What I’m hearing from the farmers in my area is that they have workers who talk about being victimized. It’s very important to repair our current system, to take away the fear that laborers have, to increase trust in law enforcement and to bring them out of the shadows,” said Sheriff Margaret Mims of Fresno County, Calif. “I’m very encouraged that this bill looks like it might pass. I’m supporting it. From a law enforcement perspective, it’s very important to take that fear away and increase that trust.”
Shurtleff and Former Arkansas Attorney General Steve Clark are among the signatories of a recent letter to Congress from 76 former state attorneys general who support reform. A separate letter was signed by 36 current state attorneys general.
“We’re very concerned about law enforcement not being given the tools to handle dangerous individuals,” said Clark, who is also president of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. “And from the standpoint of business, we would like to see certainty. For us, this is a workforce issue. The question is not why should we be for it but why should we not be for it. This is important to grow our country. Congress needs to act.”
Shurtleff added, “Law enforcement works best when everybody’s involved. When law enforcement officers are in the communities, they have the trust of those with whom they are working, and that trust evaporates when there’s a whole underground class of our society that’s kept that way. This current bipartisan legislation that’s going through the Senate is a giant leap in the right direction because it’s practical, it’s pragmatic. It’s comprehensive and will significantly improve public safety and border security.”
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, underscored the critical support of law enforcement leaders who are part of the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network.
“Today’s White House briefing is an important moment in time. These are law enforcement officials who know their communities and who know what public safety means in the 21st century,” Noorani said. “Law enforcement officials see commonsense immigration reform as a fundamental step toward public safety. This is about the importance of trust between law enforcement and the immigrant community.”
Readout of Obama Administration Meeting with LawEnforcement on Commonsense Immigration Reform
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Director of National Drug Control Policy, R. Gil Kerlikowske, Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West and Associate Director of Latino Affairs and Immigration for the Office of Public Engagement at the White House Julie Chavez Rodriguez met with law enforcement officials from across the country today at the White House’s Eisenhower Executive Office Building to discuss their shared support for commonsense immigrationreform.
The briefing was the latest opportunity to hear directly from the law enforcement officials about the importance ofimmigration reform from a local law enforcement perspective.
Secretary Napolitano and Director Kerlikowske made it clear that broad immigration reform is the single best step we can take to continue to enhance border security, enabling our officers and agents along the border to spend the bulk of their time focused on public safety and national security threats. They also underscored the unprecedented investments in personnel, technology and resources this Administration has made to secure our borders and make border communities safer.
Attempts to cross the border illegally totaled nearly 365,000 nationwide in FY 2012, representing a nearly 50 percent decrease since FY 2008 and a 78 percent decrease from their peak in FY 2000 according to DHS; and that from FY 2009 to 2012, CBP and ICE seized 71 percent more currency, 39 percent more drugs, and 189 percent more weapons along the Southwest border as compared to FY 2005 to 2008.
Today’s meeting was the latest engagement the Administration has had with a broad range of stakeholders who support bipartisan common sense immigration reform efforts underway. Similar meetings have been held with business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and representatives of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials – like those the Administration met with today.
The following associations participated in today’s meeting:
The International Association of Chiefs of Police
Major City Chiefs Association
Major County Sheriffs Association
National Sheriffs Association
Fraternal Order of Police
National Association of Police Organizations
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
Police Executive Research Forum
Conference of Western Attorneys General
Network of former Attorneys General