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Cardinal: Local Police Shouldn’t Be Enforcing Immigration Laws

HOUSTON (CNS) – Local law enforcement and local jurisdictions should not be required to enforce federal immigration law, said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Local law enforcement officials “work long hours to protect our communities” and efforts to charge them with the responsibility of enforcing immigration law should be opposed, he said, because this “would fundamentally alter the relationship our local law enforcement officials maintain with local communities, especially immigrant communities.”

Local police can work with federal law enforcement in dealing with “violent criminal aliens,” Cardinal DiNardo said, but the “burden” of enforcing federal immigration law would be “taking away from their efforts to ensure public safety” while they are “pursuing those who are otherwise law-abiding.” He added, “It also makes immigrant communities reluctant to report crimes and to cooperate with the police.”

Cardinal DiNardo made his remarks at the opening address of a conference in Houston, “Mobilizing Coherent Community Responses to Changing Immigration Policies.”

The three-day event was hosted by the Center for Migration Studies of New York, the Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance of Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston, the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative and the South Texas College of Law Houston.

Cardinal DiNardo noted the U.S. bishops for years have pushed for comprehensive immigration reform, but the nation’s refugee and immigration policy, he said, is going the opposite direction, with a renewed emphasis on enforcement-only efforts.

The cardinal criticized a new Texas law that requires local police to enforce U.S. immigration laws.

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