PHOENIX, Arizona — The Phoenix Police Department is looking into implementing a new policy for officers that would keep them asking about immigration status or from contacting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when dealing with any type of violation.
The new policy appears to still be in a draft form as part of a revision to the Phoenix Police Department Operations Orders. In the new policy, officers are forbidden from asking about immigration status or from calling U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when encountering illegal immigrants while investigating crimes.
In the new policy, the term “illegal alien” is being replaced by “a person unlawfully present” and “Immigration Enforcement” is being replaced by the term “Immigration Procedures.” The current policy gives police officers the discretion to contact ICE when they suspect that an individual connected to a crime they are investigating is in the country illegally. The new policy being proposed would remove that discretion from the officers leading to the lawman having to “must first contact the Violent Crimes Bureau (VCB) desk Sergeant who will document all immigration related data and give authority to call ICE.” The policy also prohibits officers from inquiring the immigration status of passengers in vehicles while conducting traffic stops.
The restriction is only placed when an officer is contacting agents with ICE; Phoenix cops have no restrictions when contacting the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshal’s service or any other law enforcement agency when investigating crimes.
Because of the close proximity to the Mexican border, Phoenix and the rest of the State of Arizona has always faced a unique challenge like other border jurisdictions with illegal alien criminals. Years of lax border enforcement and a steady flow of illegal aliens crossing into Arizona to seek plentiful employment opportunities led to a rise in the population of illegal immigrants in Arizona to an estimated 560,00 during its peak in 2008, CBS News reported in 2010, a time when Arizona began to crack down on immigration enforcement.
With the rise of illegal aliens coming into our communities, so do the illegal alien criminals. By the mid-90s, the homicide rate began to climb and eventually soared to record breaking numbers in the early to mid-2000’s, these homicides being fueled by the illegal alien criminals tied to drug gangs, human smuggling groups and kidnapping/rip-off crews. Homicide investigators began encountering scenes where the illegal alien victims were brutally tortured before being executed–which was not a common trait for previous homicide trends in Phoenix.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)