Today a group of 55 social justice, immigrant and civil rights organizations in New York (including my own, the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy) sent a letter to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly asking him to speak out against SB1070, Arizona's strict anti-immigrant law.
From the letter:
Your voice would add gravitas and momentum to the growing national consensus opposed to discriminatory policies like SB1070 and at a moment of great uncertainty would serve to reassure both immigrant and non-immigrant New Yorkers that New York City does not share the counterproductive law enforcement strategy being implemented in Arizona.
Here in New York, a public stance against SB1070 would put Kelly in the company of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, city leaders who have publicly denounced Arizona's anti-immigrant policy.
As the top law enforcement official in our city, the Commissioner is in charge of keeping New Yorkers safe; he must condemn SB1070 because it undermines the ability of Arizona's police officers to do the same.
Last month, a group of urban police chiefs, including those from from Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City, met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to argue that Arizona's law will actually increase crime in U.S. cities, not reduce it. They know from experience that when immigrants are afraid contact with police will lead to deportation, many will hesitate to come forward when they are victims or witnesses of crimes--this is virtually guaranteed under SB1070. Without the cooperation of immigrant communities, it will be extremely difficult for Arizona's police officers to gather the information needed to catch violent criminals and otherwise do their jobs.
It's clear that despite the claims of supporters, SB1070 isn't about public safety. In fact, multiple sources have found that in the past few years, violent and property crime in Arizona has significantly gone down, just as the immigrant population--both legal and undocumented--has rapidly increased.
So let's recognize Arizona's law for what it really is: an effort to drive out undocumented immigrants by any means necessary, an effort that threatens to alienate all Arizonans of color.
SB1070 won't go into effect until July 29. But in the meantime, the number of states considering copycat legislation linked to the far-right continues to grow. Commissioner Kelly must weigh in now on this polarizing issue and make it clear to the nation that the NYPD does not support Arizona's march toward state-sanctioned racial profiling and discrimination.