“The nation’s founders thought it important to locate the policing function at the local level. Police, they believed, need to be accountable to the communities that know them best. The federal government’s co-option of local police for immigration enforcement violates that basic principle and makes policing harder. This approach also tends to mix the functions of criminal law with civil enforcement, resulting in an unappetizing mix that undercuts due-process protections against over-zealous police work and prosecution. The consequences of a simple infraction can suddenly become dire for immigrants and their families and friends, yet basic guarantees like the right to a lawyer and the right to bail and prompt arraignment are not available to those facing deportation.
There is much that needs fixing in the U.S. immigration system and all potential reforms are complex and inevitably controversial. But it should not be controversial to maintain the longstanding separation between local policing and federal deportation efforts. A small efficiency gain cannot justify compromising core American values. Individual rights, community safety, and democratic accountability must be given priority in a free society.”July 2013