Fox News' William La Jeunesse falsely claimed that Phoenix police “were literally banned from asking a suspect his immigration status” before Arizona passed the new immigration law. In fact, the policy of the Phoenix police department prior to passage of that law was that "[a]ll arrested persons will be questioned as to their immigration status."
La Jeunesse falsely claimed that before new law, Phoenix's “cops were literally banned from asking a suspect his immigration status”
From the May 11 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
MACCALLUM: William, we've heard ourselves, the sheriff from a small town out there saying, you know, we need to be empowered in this way. What does this - how does this change their job?
LA JEUNESSE: Well Martha, in former sanctuary cities like Phoenix, where cops were literally banned from asking a suspect his immigration status, a big change there. In other places, not so much, they're already calling [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] if they have doubt.
In fact, Phoenix did not prohibit police from asking suspects about immigration status
Under Phoenix police policy, all arrested persons are questioned about immigration status. In May 2008, the Phoenix Police Department instituted a policy stating that "[a]ll arrested persons will be questioned as to their immigration status." The policy further states that "[o]fficers will be allowed to make a real-time call to ICE in order to access their databases to further a criminal investigation with supervisory approval." Victims and witnesses of crimes are not asked about their immigration status.
Under Phoenix police policy, officers can contact ICE about people who are not suspected of another crime. The Phoenix Police Department policy states that "[i]f officers develop information on a subject during a valid non-criminal contact which leads them to believe the person is in the country illegally, officers can forward that subject's personal information to ICE via an ICE referral form."
Phoenix police chief: “I have ten ICE agents embedded in the violent crimes bureau.” Phoenix Public Safety Manager/Police Chief Jack Harris stated during an April 30 press conference:
HARRIS: Proponents of this legislation have repeatedly said that the new law provides a tool for local law enforcement. But I don't really believe that that's true or accurate.
We have the tools that we need to enforce laws in this state to reduce property crime and to reduce violent crime, to go after criminals that are responsible for human smuggling, to go after criminals that are responsible for those home invasions, kidnappings, robberies, murders. We have those tools.
I have ten ICE agents embedded in the violent crimes bureau. We have a policy that allows officers to contact ICE when they need to access their databanks to further criminal investigation. I'm not sure what the tool is that this new law is providing to local law enforcement.
What I believe it is, is it provides a tool to divert our officers from investigating property crimes and violent crimes and divert their -- these resources, our personnel to enforcing civil portions of federal immigration law. In other words, it takes officers away from doing what our main core mission of local law enforcement is, and that's to make our communities safe and enforce our criminal codes in that effort.
Phoenix police frequently work with ICE on human-smuggling cases. Harris wrote in a May 28 op-ed for The Arizona Republic (accessed via Nexis):
For the past few years, the men and women of the Phoenix Police Department have been quietly operating on the front lines of this issue targeting the hard-core criminals involved in violent crime tied to organized human-smuggling operations. These efforts have yielded more than 250 arrests, charges submitted on 120 human smugglers, more than 1,600 undocumented people turned over to ICE and the seizure of nearly 1,400 weapons and $13 million in cash.
Other efforts stemming from our department's response to drophouse activity, kidnappings and other border-related crimes recorded since the beginning of last year have led to an additional 1,950 undocumented individuals being turned over to ICE. Also, of the nearly 46,000 criminals that Phoenix officers booked into the Maricopa County jail last year, more than 6,000 were found to be in the country illegally and holds were placed on them for federal authorities. I appreciate the efforts of the Maricopa County sheriff and his staff at the jail, as the status of these undocumented individuals was identified largely through the screening conducted by jail personnel who have undergone federal immigration training.
In the past couple of years alone, the men and women of the Phoenix Police Department have been responsible for dismantling a number of criminal enterprises involving human smuggling and turned over nearly 9,600 undocumented individuals to federal authorities for deportation. These efforts will continue and will be enhanced by our new policy.
Republican AZ Rep: “I can't think of one city in the state that is a sanctuary city.” The Arizona Republic reported on April 14 that although he voted for Arizona's new immigration law, Rep. Russ Jones (R-Yuma) stated, “I can't think of one city in the state that is a sanctuary city. I don't see this as a problem, and I wonder what we're fixing.”