Police in Tucson end immigration checks

Yellow Police Line Barrier TapeOn Wednesday police in Tucson made the announcement that they are no longer enforcing the landmark state law that forced them to check on the immigration status of those they encounter during their other activities. Immigration status will now only be checked, and US Border Patrol contacted, when someone has been previously convicted of serious felonies, has gang affiliations or is a national security risk, according to police chief Roberto Villasenor.

The Tucson Police Department is the first in the state of Arizona to announce that it intends to scale back the way in which it enforces the law, known as SB 1070, with Villasenor saying there is a provision stating that the law should only be enforced by police when practical. He believes that enforcement is no longer practical as in most cases police calls to immigration authorities are not responded to.

Villasenor, who has always been a vocal opponent of the law, says that around 11,000 calls have been made by the police to Border Patrol since July regarding immigrants; however, just 94 replies have been received. He says this response rate makes the exercise a “futile effort”.

“The vast majority of people that we do charge and arrest on a daily basis are not gonna fit the criteria that would require a Border Patrol check,” Villasenor notes. “It’s a change, but I think that every agency across the state is approaching 1070 differently.”