Survey Results Show Negative Impacts From Local Police Involvement in Immigration Enforcement Efforts
New statewide survey results show that local law enforcement practices that seek to enforce federal immigration law may be reducing trust between police and California communities with significant immigrant populations. The survey results indicate that local police involvement with federal immigration authorities is widespread, yet lacks transparency, and community groups report worsening relationships between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they seek to serve and protect.
We hope this report will serve as a resource for community advocates who are meeting with local officials about enforcement policies.
The survey shows that community groups, churches and service providers are all very concerned about the growing involvement of local police in immigration enforcement in California because they say it is eroding trust. The results raise serious questions about the public safety impact of these programs as well as concerns about discriminatory treatment suggesting racial profiling.
“Parents are afraid to walk their children to school, people are afraid to call on police for any other need they may have because of fear of being targeted for their immigration status.” – Advocate from the Inland Empire
Analyzed and conducted in collaboration with input from a range of immigrant rights organizations and with technical support from the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity at BerkeleyLaw, the informal survey asked community organizations about local law enforcement practices that affect immigrants, and covered 23 California counties that are home to 90% of the state’s immigrants. Respondents reported that:
- Involvement of local police and sheriffs with ICE is widespread and extends beyond formal programs (like 287g, Secure Communities, or the Criminal Alien Program).
- Relationships with law enforcement have deteriorated – with most describing current relationships as “poor” or “very poor”.
- Enforcement activities don’t target the worst offenders: in 73 percent of the counties where interviews were conducted, respondents report that people are being stopped or arrested on minor violations solely to investigate their immigration status.
- Complaints about racial and ethnic profiling to local community groups and leaders are on the rise according to over 75% of respondents.
- DUI or other driver checkpoints are placed primarily in Latino and other ethnic communities, prompting concerns of racial and ethnic profiling. This according to 95% of respondents.
- Confiscation of immigrant workers’ cars at “DUI” checkpoints far exceeds the number of DUI arrests according to 94% of respondents.
Law enforcement practices discussed by respondents vary from city to city and county to county, making it difficult to systematically study the impact on the safety and security of communities – yet the survey was uniform (95% of respondents) in describing harmful effects when local police get involved in immigration enforcement.
Congress continues to funnel millions of dollars into untested immigration enforcement programs that require local police involvement – without any oversight by local officials or community groups to track whether these programs are working. The community responses in this survey suggest that programs like “Secure Communities” are actually undermining the trust that is so essential for effective policing and public safety.
A summary of the survey results, “We’re Not Feeling Any Safer,” is available at www.caimmigrant.org/enforcement.html. For printed copies of the survey or for more information about the survey, please contact Isaac Menashe at (510) 451-4882 x303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.