State Senator Thomas Croci was forced to respond yesterday to criticism from the Latino community of his new anti-immigrant bill.
Croci has proposed legislation that would stop local police departments from following policies that lead to good community relations. He wants to bar departments from adopting policies that prevent them from serving as arms of ICE.
Croci told Newsday yesterday that his bill is designed to give police “every tool possible to keep us safe.” The bill does not give police any tools, in fact it prohibits departments from adopting the kinds of policies that build trust with immigrant communities.
Under Croci’s bill, a person would not have to be a criminal to be reported to ICE. The bill says that police departments cannot even have procedures in place protecting people detained without any evidence of having committed a crime from being reported to ICE. So, even people being detained for identity verification will now be subjected to being reported to ICE.
Although Croci says that his bill will not impact crime victims, his bill says differently. Many counties have adopted a policy of not reporting the immigration status of crime victims and witnesses. If Croci has his way, such confidentiality policies would be illegal. While his bill does not require police to ask victims and witnesses about their immigration status, if a police officer learns the victim’s status his department cannot prohibit him from sharing that with ICE. The bill explicitly says that departments cannot have rules preventing the “sharing of information pertaining to an individual’s immigration status with Federal immigration officials.”
Try getting a battered woman to come forward against her abuser if she has to worry about whether she will be reported to ICE.
While Croci says that his intention is to help the police departments by overriding the policies that they themselves have set, the bill provides that the departments that have confidentiality policies will lose all state funding. His own county of Suffolk would be one of the places that would lose millions in state aid that its taxpayers have already paid for if his bill goes through. This means less money for technology and community policing. Croci is not giving tools to the police, he is taking them away.
Particularly despicable was the racial fear invoked by Croci yesterday. The senator said that the police might stop someone and that person might be an “immigrant from the Middle East” as though that was reason enough to suspect that a person “might want to do us harm.”