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Something you need to read and think about

This will probably get me in trouble with the New York Times because I’m reproducing this OpEd piece whole. It’s by a friend of mine, a cop I know well enough to say I respect a great deal. He’s George Gascon. He was No. 2 under Bill Bratton at the LAPD until he quit to become police chief in Mesa, Arizona — a booming middle class area east of Phoenix that in some ways is like a modern-day recreation of the San Fernando Valley or the San Gabriel Valley.
The reason you should read this in my point of view is that Chief Gascon tells what I believe is the truth: “Without a national immigration policy, a new culture of lawlessness will increasingly permeate our society.”

Please read what he has to say, as a cop who is dedicated to protecting and serving the community as well as he can, and knows why gangs have taken over so much of L.A.

The New York Times

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July 31, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor


The Laws Cops Can’t Enforce



Mesa, Ariz.

OUR next president faces a formidable task. He will be forced to
deal with two difficult wars, an economic downturn, higher energy
prices and a bankrupt federal immigration policy.

To some, immigration pales in comparison with the wars and the
economy. But for others, especially police departments in border states
like mine, it is all-consuming. The first priority of the next
president should be legislation that addresses the legitimate concerns
of both the people who believe our borders are out of control and those
who want equal protection for everyone living in this country.

Immigration issues are tearing apart communities. Demagoguery and
misinformation are shaping public opinion and in some cases public
policy. In the absence of a clear federal policy on immigration, states
and cities are enacting draconian and constitutionally questionable
laws.

This patchwork of conflicting local immigration laws is creating an
untenable situation for police officials who face demands to crack down
on immigrants — demands that contradict policing practices that have
led to significant declines in crime.

For police officials, refusing to carry out policies that may
violate the Constitution can be career-threatening. Both sides in the
immigration debate accuse police departments of misconduct in dealing
with immigrants. In this politically charged environment, some chiefs
are making decisions based on bad politics instead of sound policing.
In many cases, police officers are making illegal arrests with the
acquiescence and sometimes explicit approval of their superiors.

Here in Arizona, a wedge is being driven between the local police
and some immigrant groups. Some law enforcement agencies are wasting
limited resources in operations to appease the public’s thirst for
action against illegal immigration regardless of the legal or social
consequences.

America’s 500,000 police officers are sworn to enforce the law. But
we are increasingly unable to do so. Those who want to restrict
immigration criticize us for not arresting immigrants for entering the
country illegally. Yet others rightly wonder how we can do our job if
some residents are afraid to report crimes or otherwise cooperate with
the police for fear of deportation.

Without a national immigration policy, a new culture of lawlessness
will increasingly permeate our society. In cities, politicians will
pressure police departments to reduce immigration by using racial
profiling and harassment. At the same time, immigrants who fear that
the police will help deport them will rely less on their local officers
and instead give thugs control of their neighborhoods.

Many top law enforcement officials were part of the community
policing revolution of the 1980s and ’90s. We have a deep concern for
constitutional rights and social justice. We believe that effective
policing requires residents, regardless of immigration status, to trust
the police.

We are also students of the mistakes of our predecessors. Past
police practices helped lead to the civil unrest of the 1960s, which
tore our nation apart along racial and political lines. We do not want
to repeat those mistakes.

If we become a nation in which the local police are the default
enforcers of a failing federal immigration policy, the years of trust
that police departments have built up in immigrant communities will
vanish. Some minority groups may once again view police officers as
armed instruments of government oppression.

A wink and a nod will no longer suffice as an immigration policy.
Effective border control is a critical step. But so is ensuring that
otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants have the same protections
as everyone else in a modern, free society.

Presidential candidates need to specify the measures on immigration
they would present to Congress after Inauguration Day. No doubt, the
advisers to John McCain and Barack Obama are counseling them to be
vague. That’s the wrong advice.

America’s police officers deserve thoughtful federal leadership so
that we can continue doing our best to provide our country with the
security that defines a civilized society.



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8 Responses to Something you need to read and think about

  1. Chris says:

    I strongly disagree with Mr. Gascon’s contention that we need to ensure “that otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants have the same protections as everyone else.” Certainly, every person should be treated with dignity and respect. But that also means that the immigration laws passed by the representatives the American people be respected. Our country, our state and our city are not global property. Mexico sets its immigration law, Canada sets its immigration law, and we set ours. Unless we start actually enforcing – yes, humanely – the laws we’ve passed, there will be no end to this problem. We’ve backpedaled on enforcement essentially since the 1965 immigration act and illegal immigration has only accelerated. This is despite a concomitant, steady increase in the numbers of green cards and work visas we been giving over the same period.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t Gascon the antithesis — and nemesis — of Joe Arpaio also in AZ, the guy who’s put giant tents out for illegals and gives them balogna sandwiches, makes them wear pink underwear and so forth?
    The real test of who’s right is: HAS crime gone down under Gascon’s philosophy? (We’re told the same justification for SP40 here by Bratton — Gascon is clearly a disciple — but many point to all the heinous crimes committed by gangbangers to argue that since the other “law-abiding” illegals are already more afraid of the criminals than the cops, getting rid of the illegal criminals who have nothing to lose, is the only real crime deterrent.)
    Some accounts of the aftermath of Arpao’s law have been that businesses lack workers, but others point to schools where class sizes have gone back to normal, the non-English speaking illegal immigrant kids largely gone; healthcare is significantly improved, with waits at county hospitals and clinics much less and care better; more services for legal seniors since they’re not having to build and provide for the kids of illegal workers, etc.; and allegedly, as illegals have moved out — to places like SoCal — wages have crept up and legal residents, including teens, who are chronically underemployed in America these days, are taking the jobs. Ron, do you have any objective info as to whose policies have proved more successful for society as a whole?

  3. Sandy Sand says:

    I don’t know if you’ll get in trouble for reprinting this, because no one what the rules are. Hey, you gave the NTY credit; what more could they ask?
    George Gascon barely used the “I” word: ILLEGAL.
    The way people avoid the I-word, we’d think it was the C-word, F-word or N-word.
    The bottom line is they are here illegally and they are ‘documented’, using our stolen identies.
    He’s only correct in that it’s a huge problem and I don’t think anyone is going to do anything about it…like closing the borders and sending all the illegals and their anchor babies home.
    Ole demented Ronnie thought he solved the problem by granting amnesty to many thousands of illegals WITHOUT closing the borders.
    That did nothing more than encourage more to come here. Bush’s alliance with the Mexican government has done nothing but allow Mexico to openly send us all their “huddled masses.”
    Short of annexing Mexico as our 51st state, secure the borders, then do something about our huge illegal alien population.
    It’s an effort in futility and a waste of manpower and money to deport illegals, who can turn around a day later and come back again…illegally.

  4. Anonymous says:

    We all know, AS A FACT, that “national immigration policy” is a cover-up for an amnesty law for those who illegally entered our country, or wish to do so. Your friend, Mr. Gascon, has it all wrong. Enforce the law as it is written. This is the solution to our immigration problem.
    The notion that illegal immigrants aren’t cooperating with the police due to fear of deportation is a fraud. Ilegal immigrants are afraid of cooperating with the police for the simple reason that they are afraid of retaliation from the Mexican Mafia. To explain it otherwise is simply ignorance or disinformation.
    The real goal, by persons such as Mr. Gascon’s patrons, is to subvert our previous immigration policy of enforcing our country’s borders and therefore allow unrestricted illegal immigration primarily from Central and South America. This is their covert goal. Make no mistake. This “national immigration policy” talk isn’t about a fair and balanced immigration policy. It’s about subsidizing a large influx of poor, third world immigrants into our neighborhoods to satisfy the designs of Rich Americans, unfortunately at our expense.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I agree. The local police should not have to be the bad guys in immigration. It is a federal crime to enter this country illegally and the federal government needs to define the immigration policy. But this has become such a political issue that Obama and McCain know whatever they say will be the wrong thing since it is an issue that people are so passionate about that neighbors and families cannot seem to agree on. With issues like this, common sense goes out the window and people say and believe such crazy things. Personally, I believe the issue is an economic issue that needs to be fixed because it is out of hand. We cannot keep having all these uninvited guest over for Thanksgivings if we only have one turkey. We need to feed the invited guests first. It’s not that we do not love our neighbors, it’s just we are unable to have an endless supply of resources to take care of all the people who sneak in here from other countries…

  6. Walter Moore says:

    Lawlessness?
    Lawlessness is having City Hall aid and abet violations of federal immigration law by preventing police from enforcing the law, recognizing Matricula Consular cards as valid ID, providing services in Spanish, and doling out Section 8 subsidies to illegal aliens.
    Don’t point the finger at the national government. Obey and enforce the law. If you want to change the federal law, talk to your Congressman. Otherwise, obey and enforce the law.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well, I agree with this guy one hundred percent except for “…so is ensuring that otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants have the same protections as everyone else in a modern free society.” They aren’t “law-abiding” if they are here illegally. I feel for those people who want a better life in this country, but this “free” country was based on laws and breaking laws at the outset and then saying you’ll abide by all of the other laws doesn’t cut it for me. What about the people who have been waiting in line to become citizens for years and have to wait longer because of all of the illegals who are here, taking jobs away from the ones waiting and, more important to me, taking billions from our economy to house, feed, medically treat and give-aways in the form of college tuitions, etc. I work with a lot of Hispanics here at the office and love them all. I’m presuming they are all here legally. But for those who are not, even though they are great people, I think they should be turned away and sent to the end of the line to come in lawfully. Whew!

  8. Reading in L.A. says:

    Gascon’s suggestion is not clear. Is it that we do nothing until the federal level act? Big Help there.
    The language in the Gascon article shows that he considers police resources limited (agreed) and wasted by “action against illegal immigration regardless of the legal or social consequences.”
    But is that action done WITHOUT regard to those consequences? Clearly it doesn’t matter from the contents of the rest of his letter.
    His next view, “Yet others rightly wonder how we can do our job if some residents are afraid to report crimes or otherwise cooperate with the police for fear of deportation.”
    “WHO” then would be the ones afraid is the real key here. Fear if of deportation is irrational one unless unlawfully here in the U.S. He does not specify “illegal immigrants”, just “immigrants” but he makes it sound like everyone would be affected and fearful if police acted.
    That’s his view and he chooses not to think of things as enforcement done uniformly but prefers to color it as racial profiling and harassment.
    Gascon clearly is opposed to act where he can and continues to leave the rest to Washington.
    Useless as a postion, and it favors allowing the downhill slide of this country to continue.

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