Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Immigrants need to trust law enforcement

If you need a reason why it's a bad idea for state and local cops to enforce immigration laws -- like the bill Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison proposed in October, or what City Councilman Mark Ellis wants to do in Houston -- look no further than the new initiative by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott aimed at fighting international wire fraud, especially fraud committed against people sending money to Mexico. It's an example of important crime-fighting work that can't happen if immigrants can't report crimes to authorities.

The Texas
AG is publicizing a complaint line where "consumers" can call to complain about wire fraud. Obviously, a good number of those folks victimized by such fraud entered this country illegally. Texas is working with Profeco, Mexico's consumer protection agency, to investigate and prosecute these cases. "The money that hardworking families in Texas send abroad is essential to those who receive it," [Abbott] says. "It makes a significant impact in improving the quality of life for millions of people around the world, and I want to make sure that consumers are not the targets of unfair treatment or scams."

That's how I want the state's top law enforcement officer to look at the matter. To allow criminality to flourish because its victims fear to speak up -- in nearly all cases victims who have jobs and families they're supporting, since we're talking about people sending money home -- contributes generally to lawlessness and chaos.
This is a situation when we have to make a distinction: Who are the REAL bad guys? Somebody who entered the country illegally but who works, pays taxes, commits no crimes and keeps to himself, or an actual criminal committing wire fraud against lots of people?

In the big picture, as Abbott's comments imply, lots of businesses and families benefit from immigration, legal or not, which is why a lot of Latin American immigrants come here. There's no benefit I can see
to letting a crook build a wealthy criminal empire just because he's picked the politically correct victims. That's the biggest risk to localizing immigration enforcement. When Sen. Hutchison proposed her federal legislation, I wrote:
If immigrants think contacting local law enforcement will get them deported, witnesses won't come forward. Worse, victims of crime won't report criminal acts perpetrated against them. Abused wives will fear to call for help. Even children would understandably refrain from reporting incidents of pedophilia or abuse.
The new AG initiative offers a perfect example of that. Obviously, if immigrants believe Gen. Abbott will hand over their information to la migra, nobody's going to call his complaint line. But I wonder if a lot of Minuteman-sympathizing immigration opponents don't think he should do just that?

RELATED: Texas Appleseed has
resources online in English and Spanish regarding financial laws and services for immigrants. ALSO: Via Immigration Law Blog, see this NY Times story describing the plight of battered immigrant women who return to their abusers because they can't access victims' services.


OP said...

There is a difference between actively enforcing immigration laws and edicts ordering city and county cops not to cooperate with ICE agents. While I don't support the former, governments that do the latter should loose any and all federal funds they receive.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I don't know, OSAPian. I don't think you should force any two law enforcement agencies to "cooperate" if their chain of command and/or governing structure doesn't agree with the mission or thinks it would undermine its more central, core mission of local crimefighting. The constitution established a federalist system for a reason. I don't think the feds should be coercing local police to make a decision that could be harmful to public safety.