Federalism, Deportation and Crime Victims Afraid to Call the Police
60 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2006 Last revised: 4 Nov 2007
The article analyzes the federal versus local struggle over deportation's deterrent effect on crime reporting by unauthorized aliens. There are now 11.1 million unauthorized aliens in the U.S., including five percent of American workers. They are victims of more than one million crimes per year. The Supreme Court has held that unauthorized aliens enjoy certain constitutional rights. Unauthorized aliens fear, however, that turning to local police for protection would result in their deportation by federal immigration authorities. The article describes how unscrupulous employers, common criminals, battering spouses, corrupt government officials, border vigilantes, and others exploit unauthorized alien fear of calling the police.
Three special visa categories incentivize reporting by unauthorized aliens of certain crimes. But the categories' narrowness means that federal law offers no relief from the deportation-versus-crime-reporting predicament with respect to more than ninety percent of the over one million crimes committed against unauthorized aliens in the U.S. each year. Many of the largest U.S. cities have stepped into the breach with sanctuary policies prohibiting police cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The article finds that local sanctuary policies are ineffective in encouraging unauthorized aliens to report crimes. It also determines that several major city sanctuary policies are contrary to federal law. The article concludes by suggesting a more effective and legally viable way to encourage unauthorized aliens to report crimes. The article's analysis reverberates far beyond immigration law. The Supreme Court's new federalism, including the anti-commandeering doctrine, and conservative control of the federal executive and legislative branches have activists looking to the local level to advance civil rights agendas on issues including gay marriage, medical marijuana, and the war on terror. The federal versus local struggle over deportation's deterrent effect on crime reporting by unauthorized aliens contains important lessons for these other causes.
Keywords: Federalism, deportation, crime, police, undocumented, aliens, immigration, sanctuary
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