“Show me your papers!”

“Show me your papers!”

Why ordering our nation’s police to do immigration enforcement is a bad idea.

 Police as immigration enforcement officers? Isn’t illegal immigration illegal?

These are the questions that many folks honestly ask. It is about time our nation’s police leaders answer them because they know why immigration enforcement is a bad idea.

 

When I was chief of police in Madison, Wisc. for over 20 years federal officials would occasionally ask us to help them round up illegal aliens and sometimes folks from other countries seeking asylum. Each and every time, I refused.

And the reason I refused was this: The day when local police say they will take enforcement action against illegals is the day that an entire class of people will be vulnerable to criminal predators!

When an illegal cannot report a crime for fear of police taking them into custody, illegals become targets for criminals. They can be assaulted, robbed, raped, and forced into involuntary servitude without having recourse to our criminal justice system for protection.

Now some may seem that it is the risk one takes in illegally entering a country. That may be. But for me, the penalty is too great. Illegals, like the rest of us, need to obey the laws of our land. But when it comes to immigration enforcement, that’s the job of the federal government and not local police departments. We don’t want police enforcing other federal laws like the tax code, do we?

Ask local police to round up illegals is not only a bad idea, but a deadly one as well.

Let’s think of some other way to solve the problem.

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About improvingpolice

I served over 20 years as the chief of police in Madison (WI), four years as chief of the Burnsville (MN) Police Department, and before that as a police officer in Edina (MN) and the City of Minneapolis. I hold graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota and Edgewood College in Madison. I have written many articles over my years as a police leader calling for police improvement (for example, How To Rate Your Local Police, and with my wife, Sabine, Quality Policing: The Madison Experience). After retiring from the police department, I answered a call to ministry, attended seminary, and was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. At the present time, I serve a small church in North Lake (WI), east of Madison. Sabine and I have nine adult children, eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She is also a retired police officer and we both continue active lives.

6 Responses to ““Show me your papers!””

  1. Sorry to say but you are wrong. First and foremost Illegal imigrants are currently preyed upon by crimminals already. Second by defintion they are crimminals themselves already. They are short cutting the system to legally enter this country and have broken the law to be here. Then they drive illegally, cause car accidents, have no insurance, use our public systems that they are not paying for and help others illegally enter the country. Your resfual to help the Feds just assisted crimminals. Way to go.

    • Okay, Fred, I understand where you are coming from. We just need to listen to one another and realize there is no easy way out of the immigration problem in America. We are simply not going to deport millions of Hispanics in order to “clean up” the problem. Starting with that as a given, what is the most reasonable and moral thing to do? I will be listening to all sides of this argument… Hope you will, too.

      • I like this article, although I did want to ask: why the use of the word “illegals”? I mean, they are here illegally, but if we really delve a little deeper, they are here without documents. I think “undocumented” would be a better word.

      • You are absolutely right. I apologize for using the word “illegals.” Undocumented is a far better word. Thanks for reading my blog. I also encourage you to read my new book to get a better insight into police and their ways — as well as ways to improve them!

  2. Go after the employers who hired undocumented/illegal immigrants. The federal government since Ronald Reagan have been giving amnesty but it refuses to enforce our immigranation laws and labor laws. Unions play a large part in ensuring that employers did not hired undocumented workers; however, thanks to union busting and weak unenforceable labor laws by both the state and federal governments, employers have tremously created this immigration mess.

  3. We should adopt the Mexican attitude of illegal immigration. Mexican law treats illegal immigrantion as a felony. We should classify our immigration violations as a felony too.

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