Guest Blogger: Jackie Mahendra reposted from America’s Voice blog
Last week Stephen Magagnini and Susan Ferriss of the Sacramento Bee first reported that Police Chief Rick Braziel had become the latest voice of a growing number of police chiefs across the nation calling for a serious immigration overhaul.
These police chiefs are sick and tired of what they’re seeing on the ground– an unworkable system made worse by politicians’ failure to tackle real immigration reform. Unsurprisingly, these cops favor an approach to reform that prioritizes pragmatism over rhetoric– one that makes their communities safer by dealing with the realities of a badly broken immigration system.
As the Sacramento Bee reports:
Braziel said Congress must take a two-pronged approach: tighter borders and a way to allow undocumented immigrants who are productive to stay in the U.S. legally. Now, many are afraid to assist in criminal investigations, Braziel said.
Such a two-pronged approach, sure to draw criticism and support from both sides of the aisle, is nothing new. Police chiefs standing up to fight for it, however, is very new.
Why are they risking the ire of many in their communities to speak out?
Marcos Breton, reporting for the Sacramento Bee this morning, makes a clear case:
Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel is not an immigration rights advocate.
He supports maintaining strong borders. And he has no sympathy for undocumented felons.
“If you’re a serious criminal, we’re going to use every law – local, state and federal – to get you off the street,” Braziel said last week.
But based on nearly 30 years as a cop, Braziel believes that confusing immigration laws are hindering cops and helping criminals.
Too many undocumented immigrants who are victims or witnesses to crimes are avoiding police for fear they’ll be deported, Braziel and other cops say. This allows criminals to prey on innocent people.
This get-tough-on-criminals-without-sacrificing-the-trust-of-the-community approach to immigration law is squarely middle of the road.
Many immigrant advocates would be quick to criticize such a position for not going far enough to address the root causes of migration or for unfairly portraying the majority of immigrants as criminals (instead of lifting up the fact that most have only civil immigration violations). Many anti-immigration advocates would argue that the position doesn’t simply call on the feds to “round up and deport” the 12 million undocumented immigrants living and working in our communities.
The point, is, as Breton reports, “What Braziel espouses is not a radical viewpoint. But that doesn’t matter.” He argues:
Simply taking a common-sense stance on immigration gets you hate mail, as Braziel and others learned last week when they waded into an issue ruled by strident voices.
When Braziel was quoted as saying that it wasn’t feasible to deport all 12 million undocumented immigrants in America, he took heat. “Fire him!” wrote one anonymous blogger on sacbee.com.
Cops – especially those who don’t have to run for office – can bring honesty to the immigration discussion that politicians and pundits do not.
In this case, Braziel is the anti-Lou Dobbs, the bombastic CNN commentator known for stirring the immigration pot. Venegas said his group wants cops to be “at the table” when immigration legislation is drafted.
Sounds reasonable. But Braziel had better wear his flak jacket. Talking sanely about immigration can be hazardous.
So, there you have it: talking sanely about immigration could be hazardous.
Not doing so, however, could prove disastrous, especially when it comes to keeping our communities safe.