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Will the City Crack Down on Illegal Immigrants? Minutes With the Mayor

In this edition, Mayor David Gonzalez explains City of Chicago Heights' position on going after undocumented immigrants.

Patch gathered questions from readers, for  Mayor David Gonzalez. Now, Patch will regularly air a series of video responses to the questions readers voted as most pressing.

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In this segment, Gonzalez is answering a question on whether the City of Chicago Heights will crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

His answer? No way.

Transcript:

Interesting question. It’s no secret that immigration law is set by the Constitution of the United States of America. It is the federal government’s responsibility to set policy for immigration. It is the federal government’s to enforce immigration law. It is not the responsibility of the State. It is not the responsibility of local government.

We have seen that there are some areas in other states or cities that want to work with the federal government and take some kind of proactive approach in trying to help them on illegal immigration, but we have to understand where we live here. The city of Chicago Heights is a very, very diverse community and we’ve got a very, very high immigrant population in the city.

Back in the 1980s the police community started coming up with a program on how do they start reducing crime. This was nationwide, and they came up with this program that was the community policing. The community policing was: How do we get more residents involved and how do we start building that trust factor between law enforcement and residents? Because if we can build that trust factor between the residents and law enforcement, you have residents that can come and say, “Hey, I’ve been the victim of a crime.” “Hey, I’ve seen a crime. I can help you.” But there has to be that trust factor. Community policing has been very, very effective throughout this country, including Chicago Heights here too.

The statistics of community policing has seen that violent crime has actually decreased where you have strong community policing. Now, I say this because we have to have that trust factor with our immigrant population. Whether you’re black. Whether you’re white. Whether you’re Hispanic, Italian. Whether you’re here illegally or not, we have to maintain that trust factor.

In these other towns that are high in immigrant population that are trying it, they are finding out that it’s backfiring on them. Here’s what they’re doing in these other towns. They’re going in there saying, “Local enforcement, we’re going to try to help the federal government with immigration status.” What you’re doing is you’re decreasing that trust factor with those immigrants, because of racial profiling. Now those immigrants, whether they’re legal or illegal, don’t want to come to the police department to report a crime. (Let’s) say that they’re a victim. They don’t want to do anything to help law enforcement, and it’s not because they don’t want to help. It’s because of their fear of their immigration status. That trust factor starts to go down in those communities, and what happens? Crime starts increasing.

So here in Chicago Heights, we don’t want that. We want our residents to feel comfortable with the police department, regardless of their immigration status. And what we’re going to do as a police department is, if you have code violations, you have local ordinances you’re violating . . . we’re going to enforce those ordinances based on you doing something wrong or needing to comply with something, and never ever based on your immigration status.

I think we would be doing a disservice in a community that has such a high immigration population to ever even try to entertain the fact of trying to police and help the federal government crackdown on illegal immigration in the city of Chicago Heights. It would be a detriment to us.

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Mahdee August 28, 2012 at 03:44 AM
I personal know many Hispanic people and they don’t like me just because my skin is darker then theirs; and the funny thing about that is they have family member who are darker then me. I can say that we have many races of people that are here in this country illegal and they tend to blend in the very best way they can and learn to speak English; and we don’t cater to them and their needs. Now; don’t get me wrong we need to go after the mayor and make sure he is remove from offices as his views are the reason we have so many illegal in the heights in the 1st place. They can live; work and get paid under the table and nothing is done about it. And please people who like to say that illegal’s pay taxes; how in heck can they pay taxes when they don’t have a SS number and they are not working on a work visa or student visa; as if they were then they would not be called ILLEGALS
Mahdee August 28, 2012 at 04:01 AM
So please stop with the post about how someone is racist; as to know what he word mean you will see that we all have some type of racism in us we are a system of ism; be is sex; age or race. The woman that stand next to me in the line at the store and grabs her purse and pulls it close; is she raciest or just a dam fool; when in hell would I take her purse when I can just take the money out of the store; and where in hell can I run anyway. Like I said we all have some type of fears and things we don’t like; I hate to go anywhere and have some Spanish people talking some type of English and then start speaking Spanish when I walk up; shit if you have been in this country more then 2 years you should know how to speak English. If you leave this county and go anywhere you are going to speak the language spoken their or you are SOL. Just Because I Support My Own; Does Not Mean I'm Anti Anyone Else!
NotBuyingIt August 28, 2012 at 09:37 PM
David, During the course of an arrest or traffic stop, if it is determined the the offender is illegal, then call ICE. You don't go around looking for illegals, but you don't have to turn a blind eye either...
SharonC August 29, 2012 at 04:31 PM
wow 138 comments on this article...smh...and at the end of the day guess what ppl....the laws the law...mr mayor is ignoring it no matter how many ppl try to sugar coat it...and they know it...we can go back and forth forever...and it will still be the same...mr mayor needs to fix the prolbem hisself..he knows what he's gotta do..and if he dosent? well...theres always consequences for ppl that break the law...we know that...so i wish him the best and pray he does the right thing...and speaking for myself...i want to add i am not a racist..this has nothing to do with any race..it has to do with the law...somthing that should be enforced..not ignored..
Victor September 01, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Really people? With all the crime in Chicago Heights and you're arguing about immigration laws? Most crimes in the Heights is committed by either citizens or legal residents. Im not saying that illegal immigrants should get passed over but come on people. we have more serious issues to deal with

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