The relationship between undocumented immigrants and law enforcement can often be a very difficult one, and one that frequently varies between different cities and states. Among the most vexing issues is the need to enforce immigration laws while allowing undocumented immigrants to not be afraid of talking to community police.
A lot of immigrants fail to report crimes that have been committed against them or that they have witnessed. This is because they are fearful that their lack of citizenship will be revealed. However, in some places in the United States local authorities have begun reaching out to immigrant communities to try and gain their help in reporting crimes, while reassuring them that they will not risk deportation if they do come forward.
Police Chief Thomas Brennan in Lindenwold in New Jersey recently spoke at a Hispanic church to tell them that the local authorities are unconcerned about legal status and only want to punish offenders and stop crime, encouraging immigrants to come forward and report any crimes that they are aware of regardless of their lack of US citizenship. The speech followed the murder of an undocumented immigrant recently, the investigation of which uncovered the reality of immigrants being too afraid to report criminal activity.
“Anyone’s status with regard to immigration is not important,” Brennan says. “Whether you are here legally or illegally, you’re a member of this community and therefore deserve a right to be safe… The important thing is we need your help.”