California has been in the news for several months now regarding the state’s immigration policies. Recently, a city police chief has stated that he wishes to change the policy that forces the city to hold immigrants on low-level crimes. This could be a popular move for immigrants within the state, especially with the difficulty of finding representation for detainees when they are on an immigration hold.
This will not prevent the police department from detaining immigrants held on more serious charges, but it would allow them to release those who are only guilty of more minor charges such driving without a license or illegal vending. At this time, federal authorities request that everyone is held, regardless of the level of criminal involvement. If the new policy is passed, the city would only hold immigrants with known gang affiliations, those who have committed serious crimes or people with a criminal background.
The reasoning behind his request is that while the federal government has a valid premise, the best way to enforce immigration to ensure the safety of the public is to target and hold those accused of the most serious and violent crimes. The department believes that approximately 400 of 3,400 hold requests from the government will target low level offenders. Changing the policy could help save time for the city’s police force and effectively target those who should be held to increase public safety.
Representation for detainees in California is important, but many find that they are unable to receive a proper defense if they are on an immigration hold. With the new policy, immigrants may not have to fear they won’t receive proper legal help. Policies that target all immigrants, regardless of the crime they are involved in, could decrease the availability of representation of detainees simply because they may fall through the cracks of the justice system.
Source: Fox News, “LA police chief calls for releasing illegal immigrants involved in minor crimes,” Oct. 5, 2012