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- 05-25-2006, 07:20 AM #1
Victim's Legal Status Stirs City Debate
http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/ ... 661570.htm
May 25, 2006News
Victim's legal status stirs city debate
Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory and Police Chief Darrel Stephens squared off Wednesday over how police should treat crime victims who might be illegal immigrants.
McCrory brought new pressure on the department's practice of not asking victims their residency status after a dispute involving how police treated an illegal immigrant working as an ice cream vendor.
Stephens said one of his officers erred earlier this month by asking the vendor his status and that officers are not to make such inquiries because they could discourage victims and witnesses from reporting crimes.
"People who are here illegally are afraid of the police to begin with," Stephens said. Police apologized to the Latino community on Monday.
McCrory countered: "We apologized to some sectors of our community, and I'm not sure an apology was warranted."
The dispute between two of the city's highest ranking officials represents the frustration in Charlotte and many other cities as they try to deal with the rise of illegal immigration.
McCrory told the Observer on Wednesday he felt the officer's actions were appropriate and he is concerned the department is following practices not approved by city policy-makers.
"This case brought up the difficulty of having an informal and unwritten policy," he said.
The City Council appears split on the policy. Democrat Susan Burgess said police officers do not have the capacity to act as federal immigration officers.
"Our police officers have worked hard to establish a relationship and rapport with our immigrant community," she said. "If they become immigration officers, all that is at risk."
Republican Don Lochman and Democrat Warren Turner, chair of the public safety committee, said officers should ask individuals, including victims, immigration status.
Turner said officers should forward pertinent information they receive to immigration officials.
"I don't want to try to micromanage the chief and how he runs the department, but we are the elected officials of this community and we are responsible to the community," Turner said. "And, I don't think an officer should be apologizing for doing their job."
On May 5, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer responded to a report that an ice cream vendor had been robbed at gunpoint in east Charlotte.
The victim, Eder Lucero Cubillas, 23, did not speak English and could not produce the appropriate peddler's license. The officer concluded that Lucero was in the U.S. illegally and said she would forward a copy of her report to federal immigration officials.
Lucero said Wednesday he was thankful police came to his aid. But he told the Observer he was confused that the officer repeatedly asked him for a copy of his green card when he had been told police were not interested in victims' immigration status.
"I didn't know why the officer was asking me all this if she was here to help me," Lucero said.
He said he would think twice before calling the police if he was robbed again.
Lucero was not reported to federal agents, according to immigration officials.
According to Stephens, "officers are not to inquire about the immigration status of a victim or others they encounter unless the person has committed a serious crime" or is a suspect.
Only federal officials, not police officers, have authority to arrest a person whose only violation is entering the country illegally, Stephens said.
He said the department has followed the same practice since before he took over the department seven years ago. He said many large city police agencies follow the same practice.
The mayor said the chief's reasoning was rational, but said it demanded review from elected officials and the public.
The chief and the mayor said they've often talked about illegal immigration. The mayor said the department's policy is one reason he formed an immigration task force.
"This is a complex issue," McCrory said. "No one is sure what the policy is ... and it's causing confusion even among the street police officer. And I don't think it's right." -- Reporter -- Diana Ni contributed.
- 05-25-2006, 08:08 AM #2
He's breaking the law
This story is outrageous. Now we're saying we're sorry for asking if your breaking the law. It make me wnat to woof cookies.
POlice should have the right to ask legal status!!!!! And then report the person to ICE. They're deported case close. whats so difficult. Thats the chance they take for being here illegally.
What next? We treat these illegals better than or own citizens!
- 05-25-2006, 10:15 AM #3
Yes it is called interior enforcement. However, many states have that special order 40 in which they cannot ask status even when they arrest someone they think is an illegal aliens. I am not sure how these states got this or whether it was handed down from the government but it is in place in many states.Freedom isn't free... Don't forget the men who died and gave that right to all of us....