Texas Police Say 'No' to Immigration Enforcement

Localizing immigration enforcement is harmful

El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles
El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles

El Paso Co. Sheriff Richard Wiles is not impressed, at all, by the spate of bills filed at the Capitol which would make policing immigration a job for local cops.

Not only are those measures unnecessary, but they're also dangerous he said at a morning press conference. "I'm very concerned that if we are forced into this immigration issue we're going to tear down that respect [for law enforcement] and crime will rise in our neighborhoods," he said. "And there's no reason to go down that road."

After more than enough wild talk from people like Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, who went on about anchor babies on Anderson Cooper 360 this summer, the constant barrage of blather about immigration enforcement measures from Tyler GOP Rep. Leo Berman and his cronies, and the laundry list of immigration bills filed already this session, it has come to this: Law enforcement officers from across the state are stepping forward to say enough. This is not our job, say Wiles and other law enforcement officials including Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo, Dallas Co. Sheriff Lupe Valdez, McAllen Sheriff Victor Rodriguez and San Antonio Chief William McManus. "It's just a bad, bad idea," said McManus. He said he couldn't imagine that any of the law enforcement officers in the room had ever heard complaints about illegal immigration during community meetings – that just doesn't happen, he said.

In his comments, Acevedo was blunt: "This is not a public safety dispute," he said. "This has to do with emotion, the economy and scapegoating, from my perspective," he continued. "I want the politicians in this building to convince the professionals...convince us that this...misguided policy, not driven by intellect, will enhance public safety." (Acevedo also noted that the positions taken by officials at the presser were not new and no different than those adopted by the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, which issued a position paper on immigration back in 2006.)

Immigration enforcement should be handled by the feds and only the feds, such that the tax burden for enforcement is borne by all taxpayers, said Wiles. It is not as though the law enforcement officials believe illegal immigration isn't a problem, noted Wiles, "People should follow the rules." But it is a federal responsibility to handle immigration enforcement and not that of local law enforcement. Just because El Paso is on the border, the city's residents shouldn't have to expend money to do the work of the country, Wiles noted. "It's a shame to see people use this issue for their [own] political expedience," he said. "Leave it to the federal government to secure our borders and handle the issue of illegal immigration and [allow local officers to] work in the neighborhood and the community to keep us safe."

You can watch video of the press conference here.

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Legislature, immigration, Leo Berman, Art Acevedo, Richard Wiles, William McManus, 82nd Legislature

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