Police chiefs from around the country come to Washington to express concerns about Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law

Rob Davis, the Police Chief from San Jose, said," We do understand why there is support for this law across the country.  The question is : do we want our local law enforcement forces taking that lead role in immigration issues?"

Charlie Beck from Los Angeles Police Department, said,"The chiefs are speaking as one on this....this would be severe if we had it in L.A.   The primary job of law enforcement is to protect the public and keep us free from crime.  This legislation inhibits us from doing our job."  He added,  "Crime is not on the rise in Arizona and anywhere else...Violent crime has been decreasing across the country over the last 8 years."

Chris Burbank is the Police Chief of  Salt Lake City.  He says that illegal immigration is a hot topic in Utah, and says a full third of his city's population is Latino.   He called Arizona's law" counterproductive," and said  fear mongering is taking place."

The police chiefs participated in the conference call from Washington, where they had earlier met to describe their concerns about the Arizona law with Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder has expressed reservations about the new law, saying it could lead to racial profiling.  Earlier this month,  the Justice Department told some Arizona leaders that DOJ staff were analyzing the potential effects of the new state law.

The current recession (if we're still in one) began officially in December of 2007.  Some economists say we're no longer in it, and talk about the growth we've seen as an indication that the country is every so slightly getting its economic legs back.

But unemployment remains at levels not seen since the 1970's in much of the country (particularly in Florida and the Tampa Bay), and as we've seen when Americans are asked about their opinion of politicians in Washington and Tallahassee, report record low approval ratings

The anger is palpable, and now it seems directed towards undocumented immigrants.

That's our theory after reading the results of a new CNN/Opinion Research poll that shows over three quarters of Americans want to see illegal immigrants simply go away.  60% want the emphasis of the government to be on stopping illegals from entering the country and deporting those who are here compared to 38 percent who want to allow them to become legal residents.

No doubt the numbers don't lie, but of all the economic issues over the past year, we can't remember hearing too much about undocumented immigrants being an issue.  For example, they were emphatically left out of the discussion of the thirty million plus people in this country who will presumably now have access to health care after that reform legislation was signed by President Obama earlier this year.

And although SB 1070, the controversial anti-illegal immigration law has yet to go into affect in Arizona, opposition to it continues.  This morning in Washington, a cross-section of police chiefs from cities across the country (though none from Florida) met with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss their concerns about the bill.

Roberto Villasenor, the Chief of Police in Tucson, Arizona, said what appears obvious from across the country.   "The law hasn't gone into affect, but our community is divided on this. "  He said (as did all of the other chiefs on a conference call) He said the greatest concern he and his colleagues shared was the potential divide this would create in Arizona between the local community and his agency.


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