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A panel of former federal, state and local law-enforcement officials has been named by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon to devise a way to enable Phoenix police officers to question and detain illegal aliens and notify federal immigration officials that they did so.
The panel’s creation comes in the wake of an announcement last week by Mr. Gordon that he has changed his mind concerning the city’s status as a “sanctuary city,” a policy that prevents officers from enforcing immigration laws.
Mr. Gordon told reporters during a press conference he could no longer support the city’s 15-year-old sanctuary policy, saying that although “it was right for local law enforcement and our community” when written, circumstances are now different.
“It was written in another time — and it was based on the premise that the federal government would fulfill all its responsibilities regarding enforcement,” he said. “Obviously, that has changed.”
For the past several years, Phoenix has been included among several “sanctuary cities” in the U.S., meaning it did not enforce federal immigration laws, arguing that doing so was the business of the Department of Homeland Security.
Known as Police Operations Order 1.4, the policy said officers were not allowed to stop people to determine their immigration status, arrest people when the only violation was an infraction of federal immigration law or notify Homeland Security that an illegal alien witnessed or was the victim of a crime, surfaced during a family disturbance, received a traffic ticket or sought medical attention.
Last week, Mr. Gordon appointed former U.S. Attorneys Paul Charlton and Jose Rivera, former state Attorney General Grant Woods and former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to consult with Phoenix police officials and draft a new policy by Dec. 31.
“I have told them to start with a blank piece of paper — and to draft a new operations order that will allow individual officers to notify[U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] when any law has been violated by a person they have reason to believe is in the United States illegally,” he said.
Mr. Gordon told reporters that although he did not intend to turn the city’s officers into immigration enforcers, the new policy should give them the authority to inquire about a person’s immigration status while investigating other criminal activity. He also said the policy should protect the constitutional rights of those questioned and prohibit racial and ethnic profiling.
(Posted on December 11, 2007)