The Dallas Morning News (Texas, Op-ed)
By Lupe Valdez
April 14, 2016
People in Dallas County must work together to unite diverse interests for common sense immigration policies.
In our county, one out of every four of our 2.5 million residents is foreign born. We embrace our diversity as a driver of our vibrant economy, fueled by the concentration of Fortune 500 company headquarters in Dallas County. Yet, Texas has taken the lead in a lawsuit that would keep law abiding, undocumented immigrants, from applying for temporary relief from deportation.
The lawsuit, now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, has blocked the start of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents and expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. These initiatives from President Barack Obama would temporarily shield from deportation immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally, and the court agreed to review whether the president has such power. I have joined 51 current and former chiefs of police and sheriffs, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Police Executive Research Forum, and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, in urging the Supreme Court to let these initiatives go forward.
We need good immigration laws. But, in the meantime, we are damaging our law enforcement relationships with our communities that are caught in limbo. We need the immigration initiatives to help us with community policing.
As sheriff of Dallas County, I know the law enforcement challenges we face to keep our communities and businesses safe and prosperous. Our work is undermined when immigrants and family members who are citizens or have legal status fear interacting with deputies or reporting crimes because of fear of exposing a family member’s undocumented presence.
The law enforcement brief before the Supreme Court cites research showing that 70 percent of undocumented immigrants and 44 percent of all Latinos “are less likely to contact law enforcement authorities if they were victims of a crime for fear that the police will ask them or people they know about their immigration status.” The breakdown in trust also makes members of our communities more vulnerable to exploitation and crime, such as domestic violence.
We know, based on the 2012 DACA program, that deferred action makes immigrants less afraid of law enforcement officers. These policies also help police by creating valid identification documents that speed up our work. The presentation of identification at simple traffic stops can spare hours of investigative work and allow deputies to focus on solving major crimes.
My job is to provide safety and security. I serve and protect everyone. Make no mistake, I am not supporting people who commit violent crimes, but I don’t want to dump on hardworking, law abiding people, either.
Maintaining a safe environment so that our economy will continue to grow and create jobs requires commonsense justice. We need deferred action policies to effectively work with our immigrant communities.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com