MAY 22, 2007
Police chiefs in various Southern California cities are adamantly rejecting a grand jury recommendation of checking the immigration status of all jail inmates because they say it’s not their job.
Issued by an Orange County Grand Jury, the 10-page report strongly recommends that city law enforcement agencies within the sprawling county’s boundaries check the immigration status of suspects who have been arrested.
The idea is to identify jailed illegal immigrants in a timely manner so they can be turned over to federal authorities. Various county jails throughout the state have formal agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that allow local sheriff’s department to check inmates’ immigration status, but most city police departments don’t bother even after a suspect has been arrested.
Defiant police chiefs in Orange County cities such as Anaheim, Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Huntington Beach say they will disregard the Grand Jury’s recommendations because police departments should not do immigration checks. Anaheim’s police chief put it simply: “It’s not our job.”
Actually it is. In the interest of national security, Congress amended an existing immigration law after the 2001 terrorist attacks to give broader powers to state and county governments to investigate immigration violations. This allows and encourages local authorities to use federal databases, collect evidence and detain immigration offenders. Many don’t bother, however.
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