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Law Enforcement, Faith Leaders Urge Caution On Immigration Enforcement

Administrator   Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At a Senate hearing this morning, the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and a prominent evangelical pastor will urge Congress to take a thoughtful approach to immigration enforcement policies.

These leaders agree that so-called sanctuary cities are not the right target as Congress focuses on the shooting death of Kathryn Steinle July 1 in San Francisco. Instead, they will argue for immigration reform as the way to address the breakdown in the system adequately.

“As we continue to mourn and pray, let’s work together to find solutions that promote peace and security, not fear and collective punishment,” said Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, who will testify this morning. “I pray for an end to senseless acts of violence. I pray for policymakers to make rational rather than rash decisions. I pray for reform that promotes thoughtful community safety policies and immigrant integration.”

“To do our job we must have the trust and respect of the communities we serve,” Chief J. Thomas Manger, president of the Major City Chiefs Association and police chief of Montgomery County, Md., will testify. “We fail if the public fears their police and will not come forward when we need them … Cooperation is not forthcoming from persons who see their police as immigration agents. When immigrants come to view their local police and sheriffs with distrust because they fear deportation, it creates conditions that encourage criminals to prey upon victims and witnesses alike.”

In a letter to Senate and House offices Monday, Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force members express concern following Steinle’s death but reject proposals that would undermine community policing and safety.

“The tragedy in San Francisco highlights the need for everyone to feel safe within our communities,” said Task Force member Ron Teachman, police chief in South Bend, Ind. “The proposals Congress is offering would heighten fear of local law enforcement among immigrant communities, and that would make it harder for law enforcement to prevent and solve crime. Instead, we need a response that encourages cooperation, as trust is the cornerstone of community policing.” 

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