SEPTEMBER 21, 2007
A nationwide trend among police departments that forbids officers from inquiring about a suspect’s immigration status proved fatal this week when a previously deported man with a lengthy criminal record brutally murdered a veteran Arizona cop.
The illegal immigrant, Erik Martinez, gunned down a Phoenix police officer, Nick Erfle, after the officer stopped him for jaywalking. With an extensive rap sheet that dates back to gang violence as a youth and a previous deportation, Martinez shouldn’t have been in the country.
In fact, he had been deported early last year after a felony conviction and returned to the U.S. to commit yet another crime a few months later in Scottsdale. Had Scottsdale police bothered to do an immigration check on Martinez, they would have learned about his deportation and hopefully contacted federal immigration officials.
Instead the violent illegal immigrant was allowed to post $300 bail for assaulting his girlfriend when in fact he should have been jailed and charged for returning to the country illegally. A conviction would have got him up to two decades in prison.
In an effort to minimize the deadly consequence of its don’t-ask-don’t-tell immigration policy, Scottsdale police officials say they have to take race out of the equation when they make an arrest. A Scottsdale Sergeant then asked if Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be called when someone with a French last name is arrested.
The irony in this horrific case is that the Phoenix Police Department, mourning the loss of one of its finest, is one of those law enforcement agencies that prohibit officers from asking about immigration. The department’s policy has been in place for two decades.
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