As the Obama administration and Congress consider comprehensive immigration reform, the goal will be to reach a middle ground that ensures strong immigration enforcement while providing opportunities for millions of undocumented residents to come out of the shadows.
Throughout this process, we must be wary of compromises that undermine important American values and constitutional rights. One likely proposal will be to beef up the immigration enforcement powers of local police and sheriffs. This is a bad idea.
Not only does police enforcement of immigration law divert scarce public safety resources from crime fighting, it undermines vital community policing opportunities. Victims and witnesses are unwilling to report crime if they know that they or their family members or neighbors may be turned over to immigration authorities. Local officers, untrained in the complexities of civil immigration law, too often rely on racial profiling to target people they think may be undocumented.
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