Immigration and the Role of Local Law Enforcement

February 08, 2003

WHEREAS, ADL understands that the U.S. Department of Justice is considering a proposal to direct local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws; and

WHEREAS, ADL believes that the protection of immigration communities by local law enforcement and the integration of those communities into the broader society may be impeded by such a direction; and

WHEREAS, such a direction would undermine the trust necessary for local law enforcement to perform its job effectively within immigrant communities by discouraging potentially out-of status persons from contact with local law enforcement and from availing themselves of local law enforcement to report crimes and for other purposes; and

WHEREAS, ADL's long experience with hate crime laws has proven that close cooperation between local law enforcement and immigrant communities is essential to the implementation of such laws; and

WHEREAS, local law enforcement lacks appropriate training in enforcing immigration laws and enforcement by such agencies may result in problems such as inappropriate racial and ethnic profiling; and

WHEREAS, Department of Justice direction to local law enforcement in such circumstances may raise constitutional problems; and 

WHEREAS, ADL is advised that representatives of local law enforcement, on various grounds, have urged that the Department of Justice not direct that they use their capabilities to this end. 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that ADL opposes the present proposal to direct local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws, calls for careful study as to what the most appropriate mechanisms and agencies are for the enforcement of such laws, and supports the traditional role of local law enforcement in the vigorous enforcement of state and local penal laws and the keeping of the peace. 

Adopted by the National Executive Committee
February 8, 2003