Scottsdale Police Immigration Enforcement Policy

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We discuss the new Scottsdale Police Department policy that requires officers to question the suspects they arrest about their citizenship and to detain undocumented immigrants for federal Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents.

Jose Cardenas:
Welcome to "Horizonte." I'm Jose Cardenas.

Jose Cardenas:
One valley police department's new policy on immigration enforcement. If you plan to become an American citizen this year, expect to do more studying because of changes on the citizenship test. Also, the employer sanctions law is officially in effect. The impact and challenges facing the agricultural industry, coming up next on "Horizonte."

Joe Cardenas:
Across the nation, cities are facings the pressure to crack down on illegal immigration. Phoenix police are still waiting on recommendations from a panel on what they should do when it comes to enforcement. But late last year, Scottsdale police started a new enforcement policy asking the citizenship of every suspect arrested and booked into Scottsdale city jail. Joining me to talk about the department policy is Scottsdale sergeant Ron Bayne. Welcome to "Horizonte."

Ron Bayne:
Thank you for having me.

Jose Cardenas:
Let's talk about the motivation for the implementation of the policy, which I understand arose from the killing of Phoenix Police Officer.

Ron Bayne:
Sure. It was greatly unfortunate incident, and it was something that served as a cat list for our agency to take a look at what it is we were doing with our policy, and individual who's we arrest and who we bring into our jail. Taking a look at their immigration status. Since that incident we have implemented a policy in mid October that basically requires of our officers to ask a question of everybody who steps through the doors of the jail their immigration status. And that's something that has come about from that incident.

Jose Cardenas:
As I understand it, while that killing was the motivation for the implementation of the policy, implementation of this policy, or even if this policy had been in effect it would not necessarily have had any different outcome with respect to the alleged -- the guy who shot the officer, this is Mr. Martinez.

Ron Bayne:
It wouldn't have necessarily had a different outcome. Each situation is going to be different. Again, with this policy, it basically just requires of our officers to ask a couple of questions of everybody who walks through the door of the jail. First question is going to be, are you a U.S. citizen. And you're going to get a yes-or-no answer from that. And if it turns out that the answer is no, there's a follow-up question to that. And that question is going to be, are you in this country illegally? And again, you're going to get a yes-or-no answer from that. Beyond that our officers are not obligated to investigate any further. We're not immigration officials. We're not trained in look over the documentation to be able to determine if this paperwork makes them illegal -- a legal resident or a legal citizen or a visitor. We just simply don't have those kinds of resources, that kind of time on and training, but this is something that we have looked at and decided that this is a reasonable, non intrusive tool that our officers can have available to them to be able to help fight crime and to be used against those who are truly the criminal element, those who are committing crimes and have found themselves in our jail.

Jose Cardenas:
So this is something that is used not in connection with an initial arrest, only if you've already arrested somebody for some other crime you then ask these questions at the time of booking.

Ron Bayne:
That's correct. This is not something where our officers are going to be on the street and they're going to be stopping pedestrians or doing traffic stops, or asking the questions to witnesses or victims of crimes about their immigration status. We certainly -- that's not the philosophy of the police department, and it's not a practice that the kept wants -- the department wants to partake in. But we do want to have our officers to have the tools available to them to be able to, whether they do arrest somebody who has been committing some kind of crimes out there on the street, and victimizing their community, and they find themselves inside the doors of our jail, they're going to be asked this question. And everybody is going to be asked that question, and one of the benefits of it is that it takes the discretion away from officers. One officer can't say, I'm going to ask this person, but not this person.

Jose Cardenas:
If it's somebody who is blonde, blue-eyed and speaks with an English accent, I mean from England, you're still going to ask the question.

Ron Bayne:
If they're in our jail, they're going to be asked those questions.

Jose Cardenas:
The end result of that is that I.C.E. presumably, if the person is here illegally works take custody and deport them?

Ron Bayne:
Yes. If the answers to those questions are no, are you in this country illegal -- legally, are you a U.S. citizen, no, are you here legally, no, the officer is going to make a notification to I.C.E. at that point, they will respond and they will continue the investigation from the officer. And the officer will not continue forward with that -- the immigration investigation itself.

Jose Cardenas:
And let's assume that you have one of those situations, Martinez, for example, would be turn the over to I.C.E., presumably he would have been deported. Is that the likely result?

Ron Bayne:
Again, that would be something that would have to be determined by immigration and customs enforcement. If it were deemed I would suppose that he was here in the country illegally without that documentation, now I'm starting to speak for immigration and customs enforcement, they would do whatever it is they're obligated to do, and continue with their investigation.

Jose Cardenas:
In his case he had been deported twice already. So what difference would this policy make in situations like that?

Ron Bayne:
Well, one of the other things with this policy is that there's going to be tracking of it, and the police department's internal database. And for, say, if I or another officer within our agency were to arrest somebody a week ago, and ask those questions, and it was determined that this person was not in the country illegally and a notification was made to I.C.E., well, if that individual is re contacted on the streets today by another Scottsdale officer, they will have that information available to them that they had previously been turned over to I.C.E. and that that notification has been made.

Jose Cardenas:
Let me ask you this -- you have some liaison responsibilities with the Hispanic community in Scottsdale. What's been the reaction from the Hispanic community to this policy?

Ron Bayne:
Well, I think largely in the whole, there's been some people have been curious about it, and they've certainly been cautious and a little bit skeptical. It's something that impacts their community, rightfully so. One of the greatest things that is put on us is -- as police officers is, regardless of the type of enforcement that we do as police officers, whether it be for this crime over here, this crime over here, it might be something as simple as speeding, our job is to enforce the laws, but to also have compassion and empathy for people's situations. And there are a lot of people who don't have the ability to have documentation in this country, and it may very well be that I or another officer from my agency will have to make that phone call. But it's not something that we are going to take and carry out into the streets and make it a part of our daily job.

Jose Cardenas:
One of the concerns that's been expressed with these kinds of policies is it might deter citizens or non citizens, maybe even people who are here illegally, from reporting crimes to the police from testifying against others. Have you seen any of that as a result of this policy?

Ron Bayne:
I think that's a very legitimate law enforcement criminal justice concern that will in time be evaluated. I have not seen that, and to my knowledge, that has not yet been the case within our department. This is a very new policy. It's come into effect in the middle of October, and it's something where it's going to be tracked over time, it's going to be monitored, it's going to be looked at to determine if that is an effect to come from this policy. If it's determined that changes need to be made to this policy, just like any other policy that comes up within the organization, changes will be made to the policy. Right now it appears as though it's working.

Jose Cardenas:
Sergeant Ron Bayne, Scottsdale Police Department, thanks for joining us on "Horizonte."

Ron Bayne:
Thank you for having me.

Jose Cardenas:
Immigrants who want to become American citizens take a revised test starting in October. It's the first redesign of the exam since it was created in 1986. It was shaped over six years of discussion was historians, immigrant organizations, and liberal and conservative research groups. I spoke to Marie Sebrechts from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about the test changes.

Marie Sebrechts:
The statutory numbers are established by congress in the law, and so any change would have to come through a change in legislation.

Jose Cardenas:
The process for becoming a citizenship, there's been discussions particularly about the test itself. Tell us about the changes that have been made in the test.

Marie Sebrechts:
Well, the test, as you probably know, has been in the range of 100 questions for many years now. It's been more than 20 years, and people were very concerned through all different stakeholder groups that the test was not very relevant to becoming a citizen. So over the last seven years immigration has spent time working with teachers of English as a second language, with various education -- educators, historians, geographers, and others, to discuss how we can develop a test that really is more relevant.

Jose Cardenas:
And more relevant in what sense? More of a focus on current affairs, more of a focus on an American history, or what?

Marie Sebrechts:
More of a focus on things that represent civic values in this country. That explain the democracy in which we live, and the system under which we live in this country. It's a test now that rather than having just one answer to a question, such as what are the colors of the American flag, would instead ask you, for instance, what are some of the rights that we have as Americans? And that's not the exact question, but would ask you something that would give people a chance to learn about the different values that we have, and have an opportunity to have almost a multiple choice answer that they could give three or four things, because different answers because they would really understand the basis of our democracy.

Jose Cardenas:
Isn't that one of the criticisms of the new version of the test, that there may be several right answers, and including some that might not be accepted by the exam administrators?

Marie Sebrechts:
That was one of the criticisms during the testing time. We tested this with 142 questions. Ran pilots in 10 cities with more than 6,000 volunteers, and then did a secondary test where we went into civics classes. The redesign test took into account those kinds of criticisms in order to really make sure that we addressed the answers that were -- that might have been ambiguous or might have been missing, and if we had questions that really could remain ambiguous in terms of their answers they were eliminated from the test.

Jose Cardenas: I understand that there's some circumstance under which somebody could take the test in something other than English.

Marie Sebrechts:
That's true. You can take the test in another language, in your native tongue, if you have an exemption. There are two types of exemptions. One would be a disability exemption, because for some reason you medically are unable to learn the answers in your language. And the second --

Jose Cardenas:
In English, you mean?

Marie Sebrechts:
In English, I'm sorry. That you would be medically unable to take the test. And then the second would be a combination of age and time as a permanent resident. So if you were 50 years old and lived as a permanent resident for 15 years, or 55 and lived as a permanent resident for 10 years, you would be allowed to take it in your native tongue.

Jose Cardenas:
The employer sanctions law is in effect in Arizona. The agriculture industry needs thousands of workers to take care of their harvest every day. For years, growers say there has already been a labor shortage in their industry. Along with this challenge, how will the law impact farmers and produce growers in Arizona? Joining me for discussion from the Arizona farm bureau is Joe Sigg, he is the director of governmental relations. Also here is president of the bureau, Kevin Rogers. Gentlemen, thanks for joining us on "Horizonte." let's talk about the impact of the employer sanctions law. Kevin, we were talking a little off air in terms of this year's produce crop. First talk a little bit about that.

Kevin Rogers:
This time of year 90% of the produce, the lettuce in this country comes from the Yuma valley. So as people saw this law beginning to take effect, we had some growers down in the Yuma valley that cut back on some acres because there was a fear that there couldn't be enough people coming across and doing the harvest that historically we've had. Labor has been at a shortage for the last three or four years for our industry. We've worked numerous hours in Washington trying to get some solution, but obviously with this new law it's heightened our senses and a lot of concern as to what the future is going to bring.

Jose Cardenas:
Can you quantify what we're talking about in terms of the impact on --

Kevin Rogers:
We saw this season a reduction in 10 to 20% of planting depending on the crop and the farmer. Just because there was a fear -- to plant lettuce is very expensive, costs thousands of dollars to plant a field of lettuce. So there's this fear, can we get a return on our investment, can we get this crop harvested? We saw people go down to Mexico and plant crops there and ship it across as opposed to increasing production here, keeping their production the same. We've seen that a reduction because of the hardship on getting labor.

Jose Cardenas:
If we want to put that in dollar terms, what would be the amount be?

Kevin Rogers: Well over a million dollars, I would guess.

Jose Cardenas: Joe, your entity has been involved in the litigation that was just the subject of judge wake's ruling. Where do things stand? What do you all plan to do?

Joe Sigg:
Well, we're -- we'll be back before judge wake on the 16th, and -- to hopefully hear the merits of the case, which is what we've been asking for. There are several issues involved with this, and a lot of questions about the law. A lot of vagueness in the law as we see in the news, and we believe that our case has merits, and we're hopeful to have those heard on the 16th, and we'll take it from there.

Jose Cardenas:
Kevin, let's talk a little bit more about agriculture in the industry, how you use farm labor. The situation in Yuma, as I understand currently, there are a lot of people who cross the border to work, and that's become very, very difficult.

Kevin Rogers:
Certainly. We need between 20-30, 40,000 people a day. Some of those live in Yuma, but come across into Mexico, up to 20,000 people a day to harvest the crops, and they go home every night. They come across with visas or green cards, but it's the level of scrutiny heightens, there's a concern that -- and we know nationally the national statistics say that about 10% of our work force is document challenged, depending on what you want to call it. And there's a fear in our industry as well as others that what's going to happen if that 10% comes out of my back yard, or your back yard? How are we going to get these crops harvested, how are we going to get the cows milked? We milk cows around the clock. Who is going to do those jobs? And specifically in Yuma, you guys ought to go down there about 4:00 in the morning and watch the bus loads of people come across.

Jose Cardenas:
But you're having problems even with people who are legally entitled to cross that border to work in the field and go home, getting them through that process.

Kevin Rogers:
I think everyone, their fear and their sensitivity is heightened on this issue. From Yuma to Wilcox, to Flagstaff, to Phoenix, it's an issue that only Arizona has to deal with now. Other businesses in other states don't have to deal with this law. I'm at a disadvantage, competitive disadvantage compared to my buddies in California that are growing the same crops, or New Mexico, or Utah, Colorado. I'm at a disadvantage because I've got one more step that prior to me hiring a new employee, that I have to sign up for this verified program. Luckily I'm not in a crunch right now, but come late this spring I'm need to hire new guys, and depending on what happens with the law, we obey the law and I'll sign up for the program prior to my next harvest. But I haven't had to hire anybody yet and haven't had to for a while. We'll find out if it's constitutional or unconstitutional.

Jose Cardenas:
Kevin talks about 0 bake the law. One of the defenses raised for the Arizona employer sanctions law is, it's already the law. You're not supposed to be hiring people who are here illegally. What's your response to that?

Joe Sigg:
Well, you're not supposed to knowingly hire. There's a process for hiring in terms of the documents that are requested. There's the I-9 process, congress in '86 essentially said, well, we're going to put enforcement out there in the employment community. They're going to do the I-9's. The difficulty is, employers are not document experts. Documents are presented. They can't be questioned. Even with the verify system, at the present time it doesn't detect fraud. So what happens is employers attempting to comply with this are running the -- running their -- asking for the documentation, preparing their I-9's, but with the proliferation of fraudulent documents, over two decades of this a great portion of our work force as Kevin mentioned, is not properly documented. And the employer doesn't know about that.

Jose Cardenas:
But there is a process under federal law for agriculture specifically to bring people here to work the crops.

Joe Sigg:
Yes. We have -- it's an h2a visa. It's a cumbersome process. There are probably at this pointless than 50,000 h2a workers in the entire united states. You just heard Kevin mention that during lettuce harvest from November to march, thanksgiving to Easter, we need 20, 25,000 simply in that particular part of the country. So we only have about 50,000 h2a workers across the united states because the process is cumbersome and involves four different agencies, it's very bureaucratic, it's time consuming, it's expensive, and the worker is only here for 10 months. In agriculture, some jobs are seasonal, some jobs are permanent. Produce harvest is a seasonal job, dairy is an everyday job. So the h2a is in my mind designed to hire or bring immigrant labor across in a legal fashion, only as a last resort. So it's been very difficult and we've been attempting to inform H2A through congress and administratively so we can make the process work for all of agriculture u. And not just one particular sector.

Jose Cardenas:
We were talking off the air about some of the problems with h2a visas and some of the governmental requirements, one of them having to do with housing.

Joe Sigg:
Housing is an example. We have 20, 25,000 people crossing the border daily down at San Luis, and those people go back and forth, they go to their homes. If I bring them across on an h2a visa, I am as an employer, legally required to provide housing. Not just stipends or allowance, but I have to provide the housing, even if they don't use it. So the employer has the expense in Yuma for providing physical h2a housing that has to be government inspected, and it's never used because the employees go back. That's something that has to be changed. It's an additional cost to the employer that simply makes no sense to the employer, and the employee doesn't want it. But in order to bring an h2a worker across, you have to have the housing for them.

Jose Cardenas:
People who defend the employer sanctions law and similar measures say if business, and in this case agriculture, would simply play -- pay a decent living wage, you wouldn't have a labor shortage.

Kevin Rogers:
Well, the wage isn't the issue. In agriculture, the state statistics have shown that we pay anywhere from nine to $25 an hour, depending on what you're doing. A good crew right now in Yuma harvesting lettuce can make $14-22 an hour depending on their job ability. So it's not the fact that -- it's not pay more money. There just aren't enough people in this country that want to do certain types of labor. Whether it's harvesting lettuce or milking a cow or baling hay or picking cotton, or working at a resort, there's a need in this nation for labor. And I want to be clear, we support strong border security, we support workplace enforcement, we support an I.D. program that deals with fraudulent documents so I know when I hire somebody it is secure. But while we do those things, we need to make sure that we have a worker program so that our industry cannot just our industry, but all industry can continue to grow and thrive in this economy. We're not -- our birthrate is low, we're not producing enough children in this country. We need more bodies, especially in this hospitality industry that's right here coming up with the Super Bowl, we need bodies to do jobs that some of our children don't want to do anymore. We are removed from the farm and people don't like to be in that environment. So there's been a shortage for a number of years. We've been strong proponents in congress for the last 15-plus years of saying, we need a better worker program so we can bring legitimate legal people here to work, do the job, and when the job is done, they going home or move on to another employer. So we support a lot of what our opponents have said. We just think we can't throw the baby out with the bath water. There has to be common sense reform along the way.

Jose Cardenas:
Just a little more about the economic impact. We talked about banks and lending institutions. How does that play into this?

Kevin Rogers:
I think you're going to see this law continuing to grow, and as it gets wheels and we see how the county attorneys deal with this law, that farmers are regular businessmen. Guy to a bank every year and I say this is my plan, I'm going to produce 3,000 acres of a crop. There hasn't been the question asked yet, do you think you're going to have the labor to harvest it? I think the banking industry is going to have to see -- is going to have to evaluate that and say, what are the chances of having farmer -- so I think it cuts across the line both ways.

Jose Cardenas:
Well, we're going to have to leave this topic at that point. I'm sure there will be further development and we'll undoubtedly have you both back on. Thanks for joining us on "Horizonte." To see past show transcripts or find out more information about "Horizonte," go to our website, www.azpbs.org, and click on "Horizonte." That's our show for tonight. We thank you for watching. I'm Jose Cardenas. Have a good evening.

Sergeant Ron Bayne :Scottsdale Police Department;

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