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County police agencies say they won’t enforce federal immigration laws

Published in the March 29 – April 11, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By David Swing

Police Chief David Swing

Speaking as law enforcement professionals who are entrusted to protect our communities, it is with great concern that we find ourselves at a time when many in our most vulnerable communities have grown uncertain that they are safe in their own homes, their own jobs, their own neighborhoods, even within their places of worship. Their new fear is not that criminals will victimize them, but that their own local government may target them based on their immigration status.

Immigration issues are a sensitive issue in our county. The fear of local police departments undertaking immigration enforcement has been a lingering thought in some of our most vulnerable communities; however, never more than now. The Santa Clara County Police Chiefs’ Association wishes to reassure our communities that our stance on immigration enforcement will remain consistent throughout our county. The agencies of this county will not enforce federal immigration laws. Our officers will not detain or arrest any person on the basis of the person’s citizenship or status under civil immigration laws. It is not our mission nor our role. Our departments recognize that mutual trust and respect is the cornerstone in building a solid foundation for our success, and we will treat all of our residents with dignity regardless of status.

We will always encourage victims and witnesses to contact our departments about reporting or witnessing crime without fear of reprisal as without this cooperation we would be ineffective as public servants. Because of the trust we have built together, we have been able to solve crimes that would have otherwise affected our entire county, because of this trust we have brought justice to many victims.

We have enjoyed tremendous support from our communities and want to reassure everyone that the Santa Clara County Police Chiefs’ Association wishes to maintain strong ties with our immigrant community.

We understand there is fear in certain segments of our community. We are here to assure you that we will continue to serve and protect in a way that seeks to calm fear and build trust. Your local law enforcement agencies look forward to continuing to partner with all our residents to provide a safe environment for all.

Editor’s note: Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing is the president of the Santa Clara County Police Chiefs’ Association. On March 14, the association released the above letter to send a “message of solidarity” to the immigrant communities.