Open Letter opposing 287(g)

April 19, 2008

To the People of the Hudson Valley:

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, oppose any efforts to enlist state and local police authorities in the enforcement of federal civil immigration laws. We believe such actions will undermine trust and cooperation between police and the communities they are sworn to protect, divert law enforcement resources away from far-more-important policing activities, lead to costly mistakes and civil rights violations, and make us all less safe.

Here in New York, the idea of deputizing state and local police as immigration agents is being promoted by State Assemblyman Greg Ball (R–Carmel), who is convening a meeting with local law enforcement officials and anti-immigrant groups to sell the idea on April 19th. Mr. Ball is calling on local law enforcement agencies to enter into agreements with the Department of Homeland Security under section 287(g) of immigration law, authorizing police to carry out the functions of federal immigration officers, at local expense.

Enlisting state and local police to enforce federal civil immigration laws is bad public policy for many reasons:

Undermines community policing efforts. Police depend on relationships with and cooperation from the entire community. People will be less likely to go to the police if they fear that they or their family members could end up being deported. Victims of domestic violence will hesitate to report their abusers. If crime victims or witnesses are fearful of approaching the police or reporting suspicious behavior, the entire community is less safe.

Diverts resources away from fighting crime. Checking immigration documents and holding suspected undocumented immigrants who have committed no crime diverts law enforcement resources away from responding to 911 calls and investigating real crimes. Our police should be focused on the real criminals who prey on communities, not on immigrants who are simply working to support their families.

Results in serious mistakes and civil rights violations. Determining whether someone has violated immigration laws or regulations is not a simple matter. Enlisting police to enforce complex immigration laws is likely to lead to increased racial profiling and civil rights violations, as well as mistakes, all of which can expose state and local governments to lawsuits and expensive judgments and settlements.

Shifts federal responsibilities and expenses to local government. The federal government provides no new funds or reimbursement to towns and cities that take on immigration law enforcement. In an era of tight budgets, the last thing we need is to be doing the job of the federal government at our own expense. Congress needs to fix the broken immigration system, not shift responsibility to local municipalities.

The 287(g) agreements do nothing to help us fight crime. State and local police already have the authority to arrest and detain immigrants who are involved in criminal activities and to call federal immigration agents. They do so every day. The 287(g) agreements, however, go far beyond criminal enforcement, authorizing state and local police to go after immigrants who pose no criminal threat. Such efforts would only push immigrant workers and families further underground, making them easy targets of crime.

Like all Americans, we are concerned about public safety and security. We want to protect our families and our communities from crime and terrorism. We also understand that serious and comprehensive immigration reform is needed to resolve our country’s immigration problems. But having state and local police act as immigration agents will not solve these problems, and will only create a whole host of new problems. We urge you to join us in opposing any efforts to involve state and local police in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Anti-immigrant politics must not be allowed to trump common sense.

Sincerely,

Organizations

AntiRacist Alliance
Citizens for Open Government
Concerned Families of Westchester
Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action, Manhattanville College
Elias Foundation
The Emergency Shelter Partnership
The Grand Council of Guardians
Grupo HAGUA
Hispanic Federation of New York
Hudson Valley Progressive Democrats
Keep19/TakeNY
Mt. Kisco Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Council
National Latino Officers Association of America, Anthony Miranda, Executive Director
National Black Police Association, Westchester Chapter
NY Civil Liberties Union Lower Hudson Valley Chapter, Linda S. Berns Executive Director
Open Door Family Medical Centers
Orange County Peace & Justice
Orange County Democratic Alliance, Michael Sussman
Organization of Chinese Americans, Westchester & Husdon Valley Chapter (OCA – WHV); Jeannette Wang, President; William H. P. Kaung, Vice President
Philipstown for Democracy
Putnam Community Action Program, a component of Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Inc.
Rosemarie Bahr, Director
Marisa O’Leary, Assistant Director
Riverdalians for Free Inquiry
Rockland Immigration Coalition – Gail Golden
Rural and Migrant Ministries – Rev. Richard Witt, Executive Director
Somos la Llave del Futuro, Yonkers – Carlos Orellana
Summerfield United Methodist Church, Portchester: Reverend Rafael Garcia
Victims Assistance Services, Elmsford, NY; May Krukiel, Director
Walkabout Clearwater Sloop Inc
WCLA – Choice Matters
WESPAC, Nada Khadar
Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Luis Quiros., Chairperson
Westchester Hispanic Coalition – Graciela Heymann
The Westchester Progressive Forum – Gloria Karp
Westchester Women’s Agenda
Workers’ Rights Law Center of NY, Inc.

Individual signors

Carolyn Adessa, Mamaroneck, NY
Rev. Paul Alcorn, Bedford, NY
Rachel Alexander, Chappaqua, NY
Judy Allen, Putnam Valley, NY
Mary Ann Baily, Cold Spring, NY
Barbara Batchelor
Murray Beaver, New Rochelle, NY
Carlos Bernard, Hartsdale, NY (Board member, Westchester Hispanic Coalition)
Catalina Berti
Jerome Bibuld, Danbury, CT
David Birn Cold Spring, NY
Joyce Blum, Garrison, NY
Barbara Bonham, Orange County, NY
Mariana Boneo, Hispanic Resource Center of Larchmont and Mamaronek
Carol Bouton, Mount Vernon, NY
Frank Brodhead, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
Elizabeth Bucar, Wurtsboro, NY
Lisa Buck, LCSW
Andrew Campbell, Mahopac Falls, NY
Jacobo Cancinos, Elmsford, NY
Lauren A. Carner, PhD, Putnam Valley, NY
Anne Carter, Somers, NY
Rev. John Collins, New Rochelle, NY
Sheila Collins, New Rochelle, NY
Janet Couch, Pawling, NY
Betty Cypser, Katonah, NY
Rudy Cypser, Katonah, NY
Dorothy Shays Dangerfield, Fishkill, NY
Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson, Chappaqua, NY
Don DeBar, Ossining, NY
David Eisenhower, Cold Spring, NY
Ruth Eisenhower, Cold Spring, NY
Debra Feiman, Mahopac, NY
Diane Ferretti-Perillo Chelsea, NY
Felix J. Flores, Ossining, NY
Robin Fox, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Seth Freach, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Margery Freeman, Bronx, NY
Pam Forde, Putnam Valley, NY
Linda Fried Katonah, NY
Carol Gable, Mamaroneck, NY
Lillie Galan, Yonkers, NY
Sue Gamache, Kent, NY
Mary Gault Beacon, NY
Hall Gibson, Town of Southeast, NY
Alan Goldston, Democracy for New York
Dawn S. Gorlitsky, Psy.D., ABSNP
Karin Greenfield-Sanders, Putnam Valley, NY
John Haines, Garrison, NY
Peter B. Hanson, Brewster, NY
Dan Herman, Katonah, NY
Grace Heymann, Chappaqua, NY
Thomas Heymann, Chappaqua, NY
Bryan Hickey Garrison, NY
Janet Howe, Warwick, NY
Delores (Dee Rod) Hughes, Beacon, NY
Judith Johnson Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Phil Johnson, Beacon, NY
David Keaton, Garrison, NY
Nancy Kennedy, Maryknoll Magazine, Ossining, NY
Rev. Kwang-il Kim, Brewster, NY
Judy Kropf, Garrison, NY
May Krukiel, Director, Victims Assistance Services, Elmsford, NY
The Rev. Joan LaLiberte’ Callicoon, NY
Vane Lashua, Beacon, NY
Michelle LeBlanc, Putnam Valley, NY
M. Laura Leonard, President NOW NY Putnam County Chapter
Alan Levine, Esq. New York
Peggie Lieb, Somers, NY
Blanca Lopez, Community Leader, Port Chester, NY
Marcia E. MacLean, Callicoon, NY
Barbara Mair, Action for Social Concerns of Community Unitarian Church, Pleasantville, NY
Jackie Mann, Elias Foundation
Anibal Martinez, Brewster, NY
John McBride, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Prof. Vanessa Merton, Pace University School of Law
David Mitchell, Rockland County, NY
Jeannette Morales, Mahopac, NY
Raymond Morales, Mahopac, NY
Nick Motern, ConsumersforPeace.org
Solange Muller, Cold Spring, NY
Jennie Murphy, Hastings on Hudson, NY
James O’Barr, Cold Spring, NY
Betsy Palmieri, Westchester County, NY
Norma Pereira-Mora, Carmel, NY
Gilda Mora Bravo, Carmel, NY
Nancy Petschek-Kohn, CSW-R, Briarcliff Manor, NY
Luis Quiros, M.P.A.,M.S.W., Fordham University Adjunct Professor of Social Work, Mamaroneck, NY
Martha Quiros, CPA, Mamaroneck, NY
Sheelagh Rabo, Armonk, NY
Darren Rigger, Peekskill,NY
John Riley, Brewster, NY
Joan Rose, Mahopac, NY
Leonard Ruderman, Yonkers, NY
Ann Marwick Russell, Mahopac, NY
Gordon Russell, Mahopac, NY
Raul Santana
Nancy Sayles-Evarts, Garrison, NY
Nancy Shatzkin, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Robi Schlaff, Chappaqua, NY
James A. Schmitt, Monroe, NY
Mary Schmitt, Monroe, NY
Roxanne Seitz, White Plains, NY
Bobbi Siegelbaum, Bronx, NY
Steve Siegelbaum, Bronx, NY
David N. P. Simington Brewster, NY
Martin Smolin, Ossinning, NY
Ralph Stein, Pawling, NY
Bidu Tashjian, Cold Spring, NY
Celeste Theis, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Michael J. Tully, Garrison, NY
Virginia Villegas, Carmel, NY
Henry Villegas, Carmel, NY
Roy Volpe, Kent, NY
Ann E. Wright, Hartsdale, NY
Margaret Yonco-Haines, Garrison, NY
Andrew Zeigler, Mt. Vernon, NY