- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
CLEAR-ly wrong: Why I can't hold my nose and vote for Morganelli
As a progressive and a fan of smart community-friendly policing I can not in good faith vote for Democrat John Morganelli for Pennsylvania Attorney General because Morganelli's rabidly anti-illegal immigration stances are both unconstitutional and bad law enforcement policy. If there is two things the Attorney General needs to have a firm grasp on its the Constitution and sound law enforcement policy.
First off, its the specific job of the Federal government as laid out in the US Constitution to set the rules and enforce citizenship, immigration and naturalization law. It falls under the clause giving the US Federal government exclusive and sole agency to make treaties with foreign nations. The Constitution is rather unambiguous on this point. Simply put, immigration law is not criminal law.
Morganelli is a rabidly emphatic supporter of the CLEAR Act (H.R.2671) mandating that local law enforcement agencies take over immigration enforcement, including detaining undocumenteds here in the US. He unequivocally wants local police forces in PA to begin detaining, jailing and housing suspected illegal aliens on their own, based solely on their suspected immigration status. This would be a disaster for law enforcement because rather than solving crimes like murders, robberies, etc. local police resources, often already over-stretched, will be diverted to staging local raids on undocumented dishwashers and landscapers. Police chiefs and local officials with political ambitions will have an incentive to make stagey and counterproductive "round-ups" before just local election that would actually hurt the long term capacity of local law enforcement to solve criminal cases.
If you or anyone in your family had unresolved immigration status and you knew that local police were going to arrest you and detain you or your loved one for that immigration status, why would you ever step forward and testify even if you were a witness to a murder? Law enforcement already wrestles with enough of a problem overcoming community distrust in many communities. Can you imagine how much Morganelli's approach would tie the local police's hands in reaching out to immigrant communities to solve actual crimes?
I personally have little doubt that Morganelli's supposedly "tough on crime" posturing on immigration would in fact lead to a rise in
murders and violent crime in cities with significant immigrant populations like Philadelphia if implemented. Violent criminals would have an incentive to specifically target immigrant communities, knowing there would be almost no chance of immigrants stepping forward to testify against them.
Immigration is a problem that has to be solved at a federal level,
most effectively through workplace enforcement.
Below is a sample of local police chiefs stating their opposition to
the policies Morganelli supports.
Cobb County (GA) Police Department, Officer Brent Daniels:
"[W]e’re trying to inject our objectives into the community and trying to establish that trust that ‘I’m a police officer, and I care more about your well-being than immigration status. We’ve gotten to a point where [Latino community members] are beginning to recognize officers. They say ‘Hello,’ and we've gone from crimes being unreported to officers assigned to that area being sought out."
("Cobb police unit combats Hispanic gang lure," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/12/02)
Des Moines (IA) Police Department, Chief William McCarthy:
"When we don't acknowledge the reality of who is here, we create our own problems, and we are a better society than that, frankly. They (illegal immigrants) are family-oriented people and underpin our churches and society in many ways. Plus they are human beings. They are here. And we ought to deal with them as human beings."
(Des Moines Register editorial, "Cops shouldn’t be INS agents," 10/13/03)
High Point (NC) Police Department, Chief Jim Fealy:
"The philosophy of the High Point Police Department as long as I’m here is that I have no concern with anyone’s immigration status. If you’re the victim of a crime, you will be treated as a victim and not as a criminal yourself."
("High Point chief: Hispanics shouldn’t fear police," Associated Press, 8/18/03)
Lenexa (KS) Police Department, Chief Ellen T. Hanson:
"We are, like many jurisdictions across the country, short on resources and manpower and struggling to meet our citizen’s service demands. This mandate will magnify that problem and force us to make cuts in other areas to comply with the CLEAR Act. . . . The most troubling aspect of this act is that it would cause members of certain groups to not report crimes or come forward with information about crimes for fear of being deported."
(letter to Representative Dennis Moore (D-3rd/KS), 8/26/03)
Overland Park (KS) Police Department, Chief John Douglass:
"The CLEAR Act would be a detriment to all who live, work, and visit Overland Park. We want all to know that the police are available to protect them no matter whom they are or where they come from."
(letter to Representative Dennis Moore (D-3rd/KS), 10/29/03)
North Charleston (SC) Police Department, Chief Jon Zumalt:
"Our problem is victims of robberies or other crimes not communicating with us. That’s our priority. As far as enforcement of immigration laws, that’s not something we do as a municipal law enforcement agency anyway."
("Arrests sow fear in Hispanic community," Charleston (SC) Post & Courier, 5/1/03)
Pawtucket (RI) Police Department, Chief George Kelley III:
"If a person is in this country illegally, they may think twice before coming forward if they suspect their legal residence was found out during the trial. That would be a concern for us. You look to get the trust of the community."
("Immigrant testifies, faces deportation. Danny Sigui helped prosecutors win a conviction in a criminal case. Two days later, he was arrested by immigration officials," Providence Journal, 7/31/03)
Putnam County (TN) Police Department, Sheriff Jerry Abston:
"I wouldn’t have the resources to [enforce immigration laws]. . . . Money’s tight in the state in the counties, too. It’s [the DHS’] job to take care of the borders, and I just think they need to do it."
("Midstate Authorities Balk at Possibly Enforcing Immigration Laws," The Tennessean, 4/15/02
For further discussion on why the CLEAR Act is just plain bad public safety policy, see the NJ ACLU.