Tucson police to cut down on immigration status checks

Since President Obama announced his immigration reform action to protect 5 million from deportation, many states have been making changes to the way they deal with undocumented immigrants. Now Arizona, which has some of the strictest laws against immigrants, will stop making some immigration checks.

According to The Associated Press, the Tucson Police Department announced that it will no longer fully enforce law SB 1070, which requires officers to question the status of people suspected of living in the U.S. without documentation when investigating unrelated crimes. This Arizona law was considered a landmark measure due to its severity.

As Chief Roberto Villaseñor said during the announcement, the police will only check the immigration status of individuals and call the U.S. Border Patrol when someone has had a serious felony in the past, has gang affiliations or poses a threat to national security. He claimed that it is not a change of the law, but rather that the department was taking advantage of a provision that states that police should only enforce the law when it’s practical.

Since, as Villaseñor stated, immigration authorities do not respond to many of the officers’ calls, it is no longer practical to make such status checks. As the AP reported, Tucson police have placed some 11,000 calls to the Border Patrol since July 2014, to which less than 100 have been responded. The growing leniency on the part of the federal government, especially since Obama’s immigration reform decision, plays a big part in this.

“The vast majority of people that we do charge and arrest on a daily basis are not gonna fit the criteria that would require a Border Patrol check,” Villaseñor said. “It’s a change, but I think that every agency across the state is approaching 1070 differently.”