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December, 2003 Editorial followed by Visitor Commentary

A bill that would allow local law officers to enforce immigration laws has been introduced by two southern senators. Senators Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Zell Miller, D-Ga., are the sponsors of the bill which would allow police officers to arrest undocumented immigrants so they could be deported.

Letís face it. In New Jersey the issue of illegal immigrants has more to do with Mexican people than any other group. No matter how you feel about this issue, try and read this article with an open mind.

When they first came, the Mexicans were completely in fear of New Jersey law enforcement.

 Through hard work and genuine kindness, many officers earned the trust of this community. Because they are ineligible for just about all services and privileges from driverís licenses to mortgages, law enforcement has been one of the very few public services they have been able to utilize. Ironically, for many of them we are the only ones they have come to know and trust.


This new Federal law, if enacted, brings up a myriad of issues, especially for lawmen and lawwomen in New Jersey.

First, the issue of illegal immigration has been almost completely ignored for over a decade. This is not a knock on the INS (known today as BICE) guys either. The ranks of Federal immigration officers have been stretched so thin that they have only had time for illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes and cases related or possibly related to terrorism. Also, they cannot be expected to make up for the dangerously understaffed enforcement conditions at the border. The result has been a massive, massive influx of illegal immigrants to New Jersey. According to the INS, New Jersey houses approximately 221,000 illegal immigrants. Some estimates are as high as 400,000.

The task of locating, processing and beginning deportation proceedings would take up countless man hours. Where would local, county and state officers find the time to take on this new responsibility? Where would we squeeze in this function between traffic enforcement, narcotics work, DWIís, first aid calls, accidents, citizen assist calls, alarms, and a ton of other calls normally handled each day?

Then, we would have to deal with the problem of how to identify them. Yeah, you might say that it would be easy. Since most of the undocumented people in New Jersey are of Mexican descent, we could just start rounding up Mexicans. How would you do that? How would you spot them? Would you base it on their obvious appearance? If so, you could be in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:30-6, the statute that bans racial profiling. It would also violate firmly entrenched case law which prohibits police from using race as a factor in developing reason to conduct an investigative detention or arrest.

What happens when the first mistake is made, and a person of Puerto Rican descent is accidentally swept up. If not Puerto Rican, maybe Brazilian, Colombian, or any other person of Latino descent. What about a Mexican person who is here legally? Would we begin asking all Hispanic persons for special identification proving they are here legally, or would we limit such a request to persons who appear to be Mexican? How is a Puerto Rican gentleman going to feel when he is inadvertently asked for this special identification? (As you probably know, persons from Puerto Rico have the same status as US citizens and are not required to file or possess any residency paperwork)

If we pursue illegal immigrants from Mexico, itís only fair that we also look at persons who may be here illegally from other countries. China is another country from which people come here illegally. Do we start asking for special identification from people who appear to be of Asian descent? Where does it end, and how long will it take for the public to view us as the SS asking people for their papers?

Then, we have the issue of extremely complex immigration laws which make the New Jersey Criminal Code 2C look like a childrenís book. None of us have had any training in student visas, work visas, green cards, and the mountain of other paperwork and issues relating to residency.

If all of this begins, trust in the law enforcement community by the Mexican community and eventually the entire Latino community would all but evaporate. Crimes would no longer be reported. The Mexican community would become an even bigger target than they already are, and it would be open season on them.




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This would eventually lead to an anti-law enforcement epidemic. Do you remember the picture of Elian Gonzalez (the boy from Cuba) being take away by police from his Auntís Miami home? Pictures like this one and worse would say more than a thousand words.

Then, what would we do in cases where an undocumented, Mexican couple has children that were born here in the US? While the parents might be here illegally, their children are legal, US residents.

There are just too many reasons for us not to take on this immense responsibility. We are here to combat crime and serve our citizens. The battle against illegal immigration should be waged at our borders and ports, not in our apartment complexes and parks.

The entire issue is not a simple one. Undocumented persons do put a strain on certain resources including schools and health care. Also, there is a limit to how many people our towns and cities can hold. There are other issues as well, but you cannot list the negatives without mentioning the positives. They come here because they are filling a need. They do the jobs that first generation immigrants have done for a century. They're not asking for handouts nor do they want any. They simply want to work and raise their families.

It all comes down to a choice. We can either offer an amnesty to the undocumented persons who are already here which would solve most if not all of the problems associated with having undocumented citizens, or we can become the immigration police and face all the issues listed above and more. An amnesty program seems like the better choice.

An amnesty, however, should only be granted after our borders have been completely secured.

Deporting Mexicans under the guise of anti-terrorism seems a bit far fetched. The resources that it would require to take on such an immense task would be better used to further reduce crime and serve our citizens.

Separating embracing parents and children is not why we took this job.



Your Views


February 20, 2004

"I like many other cops in my department shared your point of view. We are not here to do INS job we took this job to help the ones in need not to make them hate us. Now, the criminals "beware" we are here to battle you!"



February 3, 2004

"I am an officer for the New York Police department, (Narc). I am also of Colombian descent, my father was an immigrant from BogotŠ, Colombia. This issue of course hits home pretty close. I am aware of the immigration 'problem' in our metro area. I guess I would be a result of said 'problem'. However, as a narcotics officer I have encountered a large co-op between both illegal immigrants and (surprise!) our very own American brethren. Might I add very large. So, thus lies the complex web that is crime. It is easy to pinpoint a group's use of illegal activities as a derived notion of illegal immigration itself. In other words, those who are illegal we believe to engage in illegal activities. The image itself inspires the illegal, such as the image of a priest presents the image of respect. What conclusion am i drawing to here? Well, a fairly simple one I studied in law school, crime is a factor derived from every human being, those who present the image are the ones who are targeted the most. Those who do not are left to wander without our very wonderful use of 'reasonable doubt'. Hey, and would any of you guys trade my father in? That is, the father of a cop?

          -Alejandro Uribe


January 9, 2004

"We need to read the bill. 

Is the intent of the bill to have police engage in "rounding up" illegal immigrants, or to bring about police reporting their findings during an investigation?

I certainly would not want our police burdened with the need to gather up illegal aliens, opening the way to accusations of profiling and such.  

However, just as stopping someone with an expired inspection sticker can lead to finding a serial killer (statistically one offense can very often point to another and another) it can also lead to finding someone here who shouldn't be! 

          -North Arlington Resident


January 4, 2004

"Illegally, yes. Someone should deal with this problem, but it should not be up to local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws. First of let me tell you that this has already been tried in places like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona. In some places you were paid a bounty (a federal bounty) for every illegal you turned in $ 25.00, now if you don't think you can make some "real" money picking up illegals, think again. I knew guys that made over $1000 a week, by pulling illegals in. Now this is all fine and dandy, but you have to remember that someone has to pull a double duty when a car is out of commission because they are enforcing the new immigration laws. Gee, who is going to get to pull the additional calls every time another officer takes two or three hours to book one or two "wets". Do you really think that the municipalities are going to hire extra man-power to handle this "problem", not only no, but we have brothers that are being laid off because there is no money for their salaries. Are the Feds going to pay you for every [illegal] you turn in? Doubtful!!! Think about it. It is not an easy decision. It is easy to say YES, we have a problem, but the problem is not going to go away. INS currently says to let the [illegal], go, why? Because they don't have the manpower to deal with this. Homeland Security should be a priority, absolutely, but not at the expense of an officers life because there is no back-up for him.

One more item, if you saw me on the streets in my civilian clothes, would you know whether or not I was legal in the US and unless you had PC to stop me how could you tell? This opens Pandora's Box boys & girls."



January 2, 2004

"Your article focuses on illegal Mexicans, but there are thousands of illegal Dominicans, Peruvians, Columbians, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, etc. I certainly empathize with honest, hard-working foreign people coming to our country in search of decent wages and a better life. But all too often, being here illegally leads to other illegalities. What about illegal aliens who fraudulently apply for drivers licenses? Just ask DMV. It is a growing problem. Many illegals apply for drivers licenses under another name, with birth certificates and social security cards which they have brought from someone else. That's a false identification which is almost impossible to detect. You can't be sure anymore that an illegal is who they tell you they are at all. What happens if this person gets involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident? Another ongoing problem is illegals getting married to a citizen (for a price), just so they can apply for citizenship. Once they obtain citizenship, they get a divorce. These arranged marriages go for between $5,000 to $10,000. Worse still, the illegals themselves sometimes get scammed. I think the operative word here is "illegal". These people are here illegally, without proper clearance or documentation. They are not bonafide citizens. Why should they be entitled to our schools and health care? What about illegals who commit serious crimes here and then flee back to their home countries, out of reach of American law enforcement? It happens more often than people realize. The biggest problem is that federal immigration officers aren't interested in picking up one or two illegals. They only respond where there are large employers with factories or sweatshops employing large numbers of illegals. They don't have the manpower or the funding to respond for just one or two. I know of several "undesirable" illegals in my area. By undesirable I mean I know they are engaging in illegal activities. If I were to report them to BICE, do you know what they would do about it? Absolutely nothing. And that is



December 19, 2003

"I don't care where they come from. They came here illegally and should not be rewarded for breaking the law. Someone needs to do something about this problem."



December 5, 2003

"My guess for the NC driver licenses is that, since car insurance is sooo much cheaper in NC, and they don't seem to care where you really live as long as you tell them you live in the State, then some group of immigrants has found it convenient to get the license and say they live there. In reality, they're living wherever the work is. Pennsylvania is also extremely lax about residency requirements. I have actually seen PA tags come back with NJ addresses, followed by NJ, PA. I've been told that you can get PA tags at private garages and dealerships, too. I imagine that contributes. It's also a possibility that their major document suppliers live in NC or PA, and they start their new identity there. All just wild guesses, though."







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