Jeff Sadow gets it exactly wrong with his August 6 column endorsing a federal program (know as 287(g)) that deputizes local law enforcement officers to perform immigration enforcement actions ¯ in addition to their already substantial work loads. His main rational for justifying 287(g) programs is the disturbing spike in murder rates in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, even though near zero immigrants have been charged with any of those crimes. As a social scientist he must know that crimes rates among immigrant populations is one-fifth the rate of native-born Americans, and that low immigrant crime rates has been the conclusion of studies and commissions since social scientists began examining the issue since the turn of the last century. But why let facts get in the way of the scapegoating of immigrants?
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux set an example to keep in mind as Baton Rouge …
Communities have found the hard way that 287 (g) programs are expensive, do not target serious criminal offenders, have resulted in widespread racial profiling, and threaten community safety by poisoning the relationship between law enforcement and immigrant communities.
New Orleans and Baton Rouge police are already stretched too thinly trying to do their difficult, dangerous work. Community policing that understands that relationships of trust between residents and law enforcement officers are essential in stopping crime should not be undermined to satisfy alluring political narratives that attempt to blame society’s problems by pretending they came from immigrants.
research fellow, Jesuit Social Research Institute, Loyola University