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Judicial Watch • Phoenix Police Violates Own Immigration Policy

Phoenix Police Violates Own Immigration Policy

Phoenix Police Violates Own Immigration Policy

JUNE 17, 2009

The police department in a major U.S. city isn’t complying with a policy designed to crack down on illegal immigration after one of its officers was murdered by a previously deported felon who repeatedly fell through the cracks.

Phoenix, America’s fifth-largest city, supposedly reversed its longtime illegal alien sanctuary status last year in response to a Judicial Watch investigation following the veteran cop’s murder. The officer (Nick Erfle) was gunned down by an illegal immigrant (Erik Martinez) with an extensive criminal record who reentered the U.S. after being deported and was freed by another Arizona police department after committing a subsequent crime.  

Like many police departments nationwide, Phoenix for years had a don’t-ask-don’t tell policy that prohibited officers from inquiring about a suspect’s immigration status. Because the measure essentially led to the murder of one of its own officers, the city reluctantly reversed it under pressure from the police union and Judicial Watch, which threatened a lawsuit.

That means Phoenix police officers are required to question every person they arrest about his or her immigration status and to notify federal authorities of every person determined to be in the U.S. illegally. However, a local newspaper reports that the department is not following the rule, instead continuing its longtime don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. 

In 2008 Phoenix officers placed immigration holds on just 81 of the thousands of crime suspects booked into jail, according to public records obtained by the paper. By contrast, the sheriff’s department that operates the county jail managed 7,237 immigration holds on the same suspects booked into the facility by Phoenix officers. That means that the Phoenix Police Department is placing immigration holds on just one percent of arrestees. 

The department’s new policy also requires officers to contact federal immigration authorities when they encounter suspected illegal aliens as part of a criminal investigation, not just when they arrest them. That part of the measure is also rarely adhered to, according to the paper’s investigation. 

Many police departments across the nation forbid officers from inquiring about suspects’ immigration status and Judicial Watch has sued several, including Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and the District of Columbia, for not complying with federal immigration law. In many instances, these police departments have released violent illegal immigrants that have gone on to commit atrocious crimes.


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