Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Mager says forcing local police to check the immigration status of people arrested for minor offenses diverts attention from routine law enforcement.
By Elliott Francis
As police departments across the country re-evaluate their policies dealing with undocumented immigrants, the police chief in Montgomery County, Maryland has become a vocal opponent of aggressive crackdowns.
Chief Tom Manger says he's concerned about losing the trust of the Latino community.
Department policy requires Montgomery County police to pass on the names of suspects arrested for violent crimes and handgun violations to immigration officials.
Chief Manger says, a broader approach could jeopardize crime reporting, by increasing the fear of deportation among witnesses.
The chief cites one example, the recent case of a man who was beaten severely by several others. The undocumented victim avoided reporting the incident, fearing his status would be detected.
"Had we never tracked them down, these five individuals would've absolutely gotten away with it, and who knows who else they would have victimized, so there are real consequences to alienating a large segment of our community," says Manger.
The chief says the policy will help keep violent offenders off the streets.