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Why Cops Shouldn’t Enforce Immigration Laws

It would be a recipe for disaster, and do far more harm than good. Update: Officer Jack Dunphy responds.

by
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Bio

December 22, 2008 - 12:00 am
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The headline of a recent PJM column asked: “Why can’t cops enforce immigration law?”

The author, writing under the pseudonym “Jack Dunphy,” serves as an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD prohibits officers from initiating contact with individuals with the sole intent of determining whether they are in the country illegally. The policy is called Special Order 40. Dunphy wants the policy changed.

In Los Angeles, Dunphy writes, “we will soon learn the results of a petition drive aimed at placing Jamiel’s Law on ballots for the city’s May 2009 municipal election. The proposed law would give Los Angeles Police Department officers a more active role in identifying and apprehending illegal alien street gang members.”

“Jamiel” is 17-year-old Los Angeles resident Jamiel Shaw II, who was shot and killed in March, allegedly by an illegal immigrant from Mexico and reputed gang member.

Initiative proponents failed to gather enough signatures, so the measure won’t be on the May 2009 ballot.

In any case, the question was asked — “Why can’t cops enforce immigration law?” — and I’m delighted to answer it. What I have to say won’t go over well with those who want simple solutions to difficult problems. And, as a Mexican-American, some will see an ethnic bias. One reader accused me of “supporting the Mexican invasion because you’re Mexican.” Another insisted that I wanted a porous border because “you want to bring in your relatives.”

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