PHOENIX — A union for police officers broke with leaders of the Phoenix Police Department on Monday in calling for an end to an immigration policy that the union says makes streets in the nation’s fifth largest city more dangerous.
The policy prevents police officers from asking federal immigration authorities for assistance in situations where illegal immigrants commit civil traffic violations.
The restriction and other city rules for handling illegal immigrants have long been criticized by advocates for tough border enforcement, who reject the long-held notion that immigration is a sole responsibility of the federal government. But such criticism has never surfaced publicly from the officers themselves.
“If we allow a little bit of lawlessness, what prevents more lawlessness from occurring,” asked Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which represents more than 2,200 officers and detectives in the Phoenix Police Department.
Spencer said the call for a change was based on frustrations that officers feel in seeing crimes tied to illegal immigration and wasn’t inspired by last month’s death of a police officer at the hands of an illegal immigrant.
Lawlessness begets lawlessness. Phoenix’s policy isn’t atypical of sanctuary cities.
Under the policy, the Phoenix Police Department can call federal immigration authorities in cases where immigrant smuggling vehicles are pulled over or scores of illegal immigrants are found hidden in houses run by smugglers.
But officers aren’t allowed to stop people for the sole purpose of determining their immigration status. Also, Phoenix police aren’t to arrest people whose only violation is an infraction of federal immigration law.
The union was requesting changes only to the prohibition on calling federal immigration authorities for those with civil traffic violations.
Harris and other police bosses in Arizona held a news conference Monday to renew their opposition to suggestions that local police conduct day-to-day immigration enforcement.
Imperfect, but at least in the right general direction.
Meanwhile, another Phoenix cop has been shot by an illegal alien. Thankfully, this one wasn’t injured badly.