Oppose Wicker Amendment 1462: Keep State & Local Police Focused on Community Policing – Not Immigration Enforcement
Advocacy Letter - 06/25/13
Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. Senate
The undersigned organizations urge you to oppose Senator Wicker’s amendment 1462 to S.744. It would unravel much of the hard work of the Gang of Eight and the Judiciary Committee, and it would take us backwards as a nation.
Wicker 1462 would require state and local law enforcement officers to abandon their core crime-fighting responsibilities and spend their scarce resources enforcing immigration law. It would undermine public safety, lead to widespread racial profiling and wrongful arrests, and jeopardize civil rights.
- Wicker 1462 would force states and localities to engage in immigration enforcement.
The federal government, not the states, is responsible for enforcing immigration laws. Yet Wicker 1462 would require untrained state and local law enforcement officials to determine who in their custody is “believed to be inadmissible or deportable,” collect extensive information about them, and send that information to the federal government. In delegating these enforcement duties to thousands of localities across the country, the amendment would greatly increase the likelihood of racial and ethnic profiling, as well as wrongful detentions.
It would also threaten states and localities with the loss of longstanding federal funding, unless they agree to become active participants in this enforcement. This would interfere with the Constitution’s allocation of state and federal responsibilities, and raises serious Tenth Amendment concerns.[i]
It would also divert state and local law enforcement officers from their core mission of controlling crime and ensuring public safety, jeopardize community policing programs, and penalize states and localities for making policy choices that are theirs to make, such as encouraging crime victims and witnesses to come forward. In short, it would undermine S. 744’s goal of creating a commonsense national immigration policy that respects the human rights of all.
- Wicker 1462 would turn the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) into an immigration-status database.
NCIC is a computerized database that provides federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies with real-time access to criminal history and crime-related information. It is a vital tool for criminal law enforcement. Wicker 1462, however, would flood NCIC with millions of new entries concerning purely civil (non-criminal) immigration-status information, by requiring the addition of broad new categories of information concerning alleged “immigration violators,” which is very broadly defined, “regardless of whether . . . sufficient identifying information is available” to support the listing.
As the Supreme Court recently explained in Arizona v. United States, state and local law enforcement officers generally lack the power to make arrests for civil immigration violations.[ii] By adding millions of new, unverified immigration-related records to NCIC that state and local officers are not legally authorized to enforce, the amendment would inevitably lead to the very sorts of unlawful arrests that the Supreme Court prohibited, and open the door to increased racial profiling of both immigrants and U.S. citizens.
For these reasons, law enforcement leaders – including the Major Cities Chiefs Association[iii]; the Police Executive Research Forum[iv]; and the police chiefs of many jurisdictions such as Montgomery County, MD[v] and Salt Lake City, UT[vi] – have opposed the expansion of NCIC to include non-criminal immigration information.
Again, we urge you to oppose Wicker 1462. Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Senior Counsel Rob Randhava at (202) 466-6058.
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
American Civil Liberties Union
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, UAW
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund
National Organization for Women
People For the American Way
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
[iii] Major Cities Chiefs Association, Revised Immigration Position, 3 (Oct. 2011), available at https://www.majorcitieschiefs.com/pdf/news/immigration_position102311.pdf..
[iv] Police Executive Research Forum, Police and Immigration: How Chiefs Are Leading Their Communities Through the Challenges, 62 (2010), available at http://www.policeforum.org/library/immigration/PERFImmigrationReportMarch2011.pdf
[v] Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, “Examining 287(g): The Role of State and Local Law Enforcement in Immigration Law” (Mar. 2009), available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-111hhrg49374/html/CHRG-111hhrg49374.htm