Proposal: Let cops check immigration status - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Proposal: Let cops check immigration status

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Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2010 6:35 pm | Updated: 3:52 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A proposal to require Chandler police officers to ask whether some suspected criminals are in the country illegally will receive a public airing Monday.

A proposal to require Chandler police officers to ask whether some suspected criminals are in the country illegally will receive a public airing when the City Council meets Monday.

The existing Chandler Police Department guidelines governing the treatment of suspected illegal immigrants was adopted 12 years ago in the wake of an infamous Chandler Police Department sweep called the "Chandler Roundup." The rules give officers discretion on whether to notify federal immigration authorities if an undocumented suspect is arrested for a misdemeanor involving theft or assault, or for a felony.

Mayor Boyd Dunn said the current policy prohibits Chandler officers from asking about immigration status except in limited situations.

"It does bother me if there is a prohibition," he said.

Last week at a City Council Public Safety Subcommittee meeting, police Chief Sherry Kiyler introduced a proposal to require officers to ask the immigration status of adults arrested for committing state or local crimes, juveniles charged with a felony, or if the suspect reveals information during an investigation that leads officers to believe he or she is in the country illegally.

Dunn said the change is intended to update an outdated policy and provide officers with more detail in dealing with suspected illegal immigrants.

"Everything has certainly changed. Times are different and approaches are different. We felt like we needed to update that area," he said. "It's a very carefully thought-out protocol."

Sgt. Joe Favazzo, a Chandler Police Department spokesman, said officers will continue to refrain from asking the immigration status of people who incur civil penalties, such as traffic violations.

"Those are civil things. We will not ask their citizenship," he said.

The prohibition also will remain on inquiring about the immigration status of crime victims and witnesses; juveniles, unless they've been charged with a felony; victims of domestic violence; and those seeking medical assistance, Favazzo said. Officers cannot stop someone solely to inquire about immigration status, he said.

In some cases, officers need the flexibility to ask about immigration status to inform suspects of their rights, such as contacting a foreign consulate, or if the suspect alludes that he or she does not intend to stay and face prosecution, he said.

"There are certain situations where we need to know," Favazzo said. "Therefore we need to ascertain their citizenship."

The treatment of illegal immigrants has been a sore subject for Chandler since 1997. Over five days that year, the city's police department and the U.S. Border Patrol arrested and later deported 432 illegal immigrants. Many Hispanic U.S. citizens and legal residents were among those stopped and questioned. The roundup outraged the city's Hispanic community.

Even now, Chandler officials attempt to treat day laborers who congregate downtown - many of whom are thought to be illegal immigrants - gently. City officials objected when the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership, an organization of local businesses, placed private video cameras last year in the historic square. Partnership officials said the cameras were installed in part to monitor day labor activity. The group quietly removed the cameras last May.

Dunn said the new policy likely will not have any effect on the dozens of day laborers who congregate in the city's downtown historic square. The days of city police conducting roundups are over, he said.

"We're not going to get into immigration enforcement as a law enforcement agency."

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