News / USA

US Police Chiefs Complain About Arizona Immigration Law

Police chiefs from around the United States came to Washington Wednesday to express concern about a controversial new immigration law in the southwestern state of Arizona.

Police chiefs from Arizona and from around the country met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

The chiefs are concerned about the impact of a new immigration law passed in Arizona that requires local law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of anyone during a police stop if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal immigrant.  Click here to read the actual text of the law.

Among those who met with the attorney general was the police chief of Tucson, Arizona, Roberto Villasenor.  He spoke to reporters after the meeting. "This is not the focus of local law enforcement.  Immigration is the focus of the federal government, and by bringing local law enforcement into the picture it damages that relationship that we have spent years cultivating to try and get us into a position where we can work well with our community," he said.

Police chiefs from other major U.S. cities including Houston, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Los Angeles also took part in the closed-door meeting.

Charlie Beck is the chief of police in Los Angeles.  Beck argues that requiring police officers to check on the immigration status of individuals will become a major distraction for law enforcement. "Laws like this will actually increase crime, not decrease crime.  And they do that because they decrease reporting, they decrease witnesses coming forward, they stop our ability to solve our major crimes and they break down a trust that we have been building for decades," he said.

Attorney General Holder did not speak with reporters.  He is considering a legal challenge to the Arizona law.

But other police officials in Arizona support the law and said the police chiefs should be preparing to implement the law later this year when it takes effect, rather than meet with officials in Washington.

The Arizona law came about after a political backlash against illegal immigration in the state, fueled in part by criminal incidents allegedly involving illegal immigrants.

The Obama administration is reportedly preparing to deploy 1,200 additional National Guard troops along the southwestern border to bolster security along the border with Mexico, though some Republicans were quick to complain that number is too small.

The focus on border security comes after a number of lawmakers from southwestern states complained about the issue, including Republican Congressman Ted Poe of Texas. "This country protects the borders of other nations better than it protects our own border, and it is important that we make this border security issue a priority for the national security of the United States," he said.

Although the Arizona law remains controversial, public opinion polls show Americans generally support it.  A new poll by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo found that 61 percent of those asked favor the new law, but that there was a sharp divide between whites and Latinos over the law.

70 percent of whites support the law, but only 31 percent of Latinos support it.  In addition, the survey found that 58 percent of Latinos strongly oppose the law, which goes into effect later this year.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Counties Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs