Law Enforcement and Immigration

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Many valley law enforcement agencies are cracking down on illegal immigration. Several Latino organizations are concerned about how the increased enforcement is affecting the community. Phoenix attorney Antonio Bustamante and Lydia Guzman, spokesperson for newly organized civil rights group called Respect/Respeto, discuss community concerns.

José Cárdenas:
Good evening, I'm José Cárdenas. Welcome to "Horizonte." Several valley law enforcement agencies are cracking down on illegal immigration. Hear about concerns some community organizations have and what they are doing in response to the stepped up enforcement. And this year's list is out of the fastest growing Hispanic entrepreneurs in the U.S. find out what has made one of the Arizona companies a success. These stories coming up next on "Horizonte."

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José Cárdenas:
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is one valley agency that has been vocal and active about their role in enforcing illegal immigration laws. And now Phoenix Police officers are set to undergo training to revise the way their department is going to handle immigration situations. Many community groups have become concerned about people not knowing what their basic rights are if they are involved in a situation with law enforcement. Joining me to talk about these concerns are Phoenix attorney Antonio Bustamante, and Lydia Guzman, spokesperson for a new civil rights group called "Respect-Respeto."

José Cárdenas:
Lydia, Antonio, thanks for joining us on "Horizonte." Let's start with the new policy that was recommended by this panel, appointed by Mayor Gordon and they made their recommendations to the Chief last week, he intended to implement those recommendations.

Antonio Bustamante:
It was a remedy in search of a problem. City of Phoenix long regarded with one of the city's most enlightened policies having to do with the undocumented, an agency that did not get into those kind of issues because it is dedicated, up to this point had been dedicated to ferreting out crime, not trying to ferret out nannies, gardeners, and cooks. It is a policy that requires everyone who is charged with a misdemeanor or felony, any kind of crime, therefore, that everyone under those circumstances be questioned about their immigration status. We don't believe that is what is really going to happen. We believe people that look Anglo, look like the majority of the population will never be asked that question. It will lead to racial profiling as a result. That kind of questioning, the purpose supposedly is so that the officer can make a determination to field release somebody for misdemeanors, offenses for which usually or often somebody is allowed to go home, they sign a ticket of some kind or other kind of -- or other indicators that they will appear in court because this is a low level offense. Well, if it is discretionary for the officer to use immigration status, to start an inquiry about immigration status to help that officer determine in the exercise of discretion whether he or she will release the suspect or take them to jail, it is too much discretion. Some police will go overboard. There are some police who quite frankly harbor a lot of resentment to the undocumented and other police are reasonable about it. We think it will lead to rampant discrimination.

José Cárdenas:
From your point of view, community point of view, what was the reaction?

Lydia Guzman:
Well, the reaction, this was a terrible blow to the community because Phoenix has long been considered as the police agency to go to in case the community was a victim of a crime, witness to a crime, and so there were no fears like with the other agencies, with the county sheriff's department, for example. This has created fear and lots of confusion. I know there is lots of confusion with the residents, and especially the residents in the community with a high immigrant population. We are seeing that folks are being victimized, or they are seeing crimes taking place and they are not calling law enforcement because now there is a fear. What if I am asked --

José Cárdenas:
What have you seen specifically that suggests that there is this confusion about what this new policy means?

Lydia Guzman:
Well, there is confusion because this new policy doesn't cover if a person is a victim of a crime or a witness to a crime, however, there is lots of talk and lots of rhetoric because now the talk out there in the Spanish radio stations, a lot of talk with different other community organizations that are saying, don't call the police or they are saying, you know, just call if you witness a crime, just, you know, make sure that you call us and so they're referring themselves to different groups. So, what I'm saying is the confusion lies with -- they don't know who to turn to. They don't know if they're going to be victimized on top of --

José Cárdenas:
The policy officially says we are not going to ask immigration questions of victims, we are not going to ask immigration questions of witnesses, people nevertheless are fearful that will happen so they are not responding as they normally would.

Lydia Guzman:
That's correct. Not only with the police department, now there is also a lack of reporting to the other agencies, for example, to the attorney general's office, whenever there is an issue with consumer affairs, also not reporting to the department of labor. All of those come into play when a person is victimized in that way. There is abuse all over.

José Cárdenas:
Antonio, you expressed concern about racial profiling that might result from this new policy. You have been involved with the sheriff's office and their approach and procedures there, and concerns about racial profiling. What can you tell us about that?

Antonio Bustamante:
Their policy is further way out there than this new policy by the city police department. The sheriff sends out his deputies to the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods and pulls over vehicles for the most minor of infractions. Deputy Sheriffs patrolling in the part of the county that has full police protection, for example, city of Phoenix, it has been done in Mesa, those are areas patrolled by the local police agency. These are areas where the deputy -- sheriff deputies have never done this kind of work, pulling over vehicles for the most ridiculous reasons. A cracked windshield. A taillight that is not functioning properly, or turn signal that doesn't go, imperfect lane change. The thing is that the people have been pulled over are always Hispanic, and will often comment there were other cars around us where there was speeding going on, or the same kind of lane change or illegal turn, those people were left alone, but they were Anglo looking. Only the cars who are Hispanic. The deputies go to those cars and immediately begin to question about citizenship, where people are born, that is racial profiling, stopping cars and singling out vehicles who contain people who look Hispanic. Classic racial profiling. It is going on at unprecedented levels within the county, at the hands of the Maricopa County Sheriff's office, and shame on them for doing that, because it is a violation of cherished constitutional rights, under the equal protection clause that outlaws racial profiling.

José Cárdenas:
And you got a couple of cases where people were detained that were US citizens.

Antonio Bustamante:
Yes, and there are others that have not come out yet. I have interviewed two people to whom this has happened. One person is actively pursuing a lawsuit, the other person will. These are U.S. citizens who have been kept in custody overnight, severely treated in a very disrespectful manner when they insisted they are U.S. citizens but were in the throes of officials of the sheriff's office who insisted, no, they're not, and they were lying and pressured them incessantly to admit something that is not true, that is that they were undocumented. It is truly a sad, a sad state of affairs when a United States citizen gets arrested in his or her own city because of the way they look.

José Cárdenas:
And as I understand, somebody who was actually born in Maricopa county.

Antonio Bustamante:
I think both of these folks were, both of the citizens I'm referring to were. But this is also happening to people who are lawfully in the country but are foreigners, persons with valid visas to be here. It happened as is well known by folks who have been following these things to retired schoolteacher from Mexico who was visiting family here on a weekend, family activities. And there is a lawsuit going on with regard to that. The policies of the Maricopa County Sheriff's office are going to be costly financially to the taxpayer, but that is not the real problem. As bad as that is, what is going on is an instilling of fear and intimidation, of feeling by Hispanic Americans U.S. citizens who feel -- they carry a passport or birth certificate in their car. Since when do we have that apartheid in the United States. It is outrageous. To, again, try to catch people who are here working, who entered illegally, which was a misdemeanor offense under the federal immigration laws, something less severe than driving more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, something less serious than reckless driving, another kind of misdemeanor that many of us, many of us may have committed, especially the speeding, and we're not ferreted out.

José Cárdenas:
You don't have to confess to that --

Antonio Bustamante:
Well, I do confess.

José Cárdenas:
But it is a serious issue, I don't mean to make light of it. Lydia, the hotline you are involved in hearing a lot of these things. Tell us how it got formed and the kinds of things you are hearing about.

Lydia Guzman:
You bet, the group of community leaders, business leaders, as well as community-based organizations got together and had a discussion on how we can protect folks that are afraid to call the police, that have been victimized of racial profiling, and so the funding came together to build a hotline, and this hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is constantly taking calls. There is not a recorder, this is a live person taking calls, and we're receiving about 40 to almost 50 calls a day on the different types of victimization, racial profiling, not only happening with the sheriff's office, happening with DPS, different municipal police departments, and so the calls are coming in, and it is really scary to see the -- the same pattern, the same pattern over and over again, when somebody gets pulled over, you know, it's -- the majority of the folks are in the morning, they're driving their truck with maybe landscaping equipment or construction equipment in the back and they get pulled over, and many times it is the same people that tell me, they tell some of the folks answering the phone that the police officer stopped them and then it looks like they look for probable cause after the stop has been made. Your treads are too low, there is a crack in your windshield something they would not have seen except when they saw the car go by with four people in the cab of the truck with construction equipment in the back.

José Cárdenas:
You are hearing other kinds of complaints, too. Tell us about those.

Lydia Guzman:
The other types of complaints that we are hearing a lot of lately are employers that stiff their workers. Employers are not paying their workers for -- they're saying we don't have to pay you. You're undocumented, and these are workers from two different areas. One from day laborers, picked up by local contractors at the local Home Depot, and so they're having them work a day or two and they are not paying them. The same thing we're hearing when they call us, they say we were told, what are you going to do? Are you going to call the police? They are going to deport you. They would rather do without those one or two days of work and not getting paid rather than risk being deported.

José Cárdenas:
I understand you even have had problems with bank tellers.

Lydia Guzman:
That's correct. There were situations where we've had bank tellers who take money out of an account of someone who has opened an account with them, there are some banks --

José Cárdenas:
Which is a consular I.D. form.

Lydia Guzman:
That's correct. We know that banks are allowing people to open those bank accounts. Taking money, withdrawing money, when the individuals are going back asking for your money, you withdrew the money. So, you know, we have been able to get involved and recoup this money through an internal investigation. This is just another example of --

José Cárdenas:
It is not a formal bank policy.

Lydia Guzman:
These are tellers taking advantage of the folks, maybe the language barrier and they know that these folks have no where else to turn and they know they can be victimized easily.

José Cárdenas:
Antonio, let's talk about something else in the news this week. And that is the policy now or practice of some groups of handing out brochures, pamphlets to people who may be here undocumented, telling them that the best thing you can do perhaps is not respond to the questions about your immigration status.

Antonio Bustamante:
Yes. And it was covered in the Republic this week. I found it curious, actually comical that some folks regard this as beating the system. The system on the contrary is a system of laws and rights under the constitution. A system that people obviously do not understand is one in which nobody has to answer questions of a police officer. Everyone has a right to remain silent. Everyone has the right to the presence of an attorney, particularly if an officer insists on questioning even after the person has invoked the right to remain silent.

José Cárdenas:
These are rights that immigrants have regardless of their legal status.

Antonio Bustamante:
Everybody has that right. It is one of the things that makes this the great nation that it is, that rights are extended to every human being. People think that there is something wrong with that. What is the truth is that most people, and many of them are U.S. citizens, don't understand that there are some things they never have to answer of any authority, including police officers, and one should never answer questions if it will, in the person's understanding of his or her best self-interest, if they believe that those self-interests will be compromised, it is part of our constitution, just like the fifth amendment protects against self-incrimination, fourth amendment guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures, these are rights everybody has. To have people understand them, including the undocumented is as American as apple pie.

José Cárdenas:
We are going to have to end our interview. Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte."

José Cárdenas:
Hispanic enterprise magazine released this year's top 100 Latino entrepreneurs. Five businesses from Arizona made the list. Nadine Arroyo introduces you to one of the valley companies and what they say has made them a success in the business world.

Mark Alvarez:
Two and terminal three.

Man:
Terminal two is over here.

Mark Alvarez:
Terminal three is right here.

Nadine Arroyo:
Pick a prominent building or major construction site in the valley, chances are sun Eagle Corporation had a hand in it. Sun eagle is a chandler based construction management and general contracting company with 30 years of service. Hispanic enterprise magazine acknowledged sun eagle corporation as one of the top 100 Latino entrepreneurs in the country, grossing at least $10 million annually.

Martin Alvarez:
It is a recognizable magazine, we're very humbled, very thankful because not everybody can do this and we have been very blessed. We are a working company. Not tremendously successful. There are firms that do a lot more volume than we do, have a lot more employees.

Nadine Arroyo:
Regardless of their company size, in the past 30 years, sun eagle has generated a total of $480 million in contract services and has contributed to the construction of nearly 300 structures, among them the Gilbert youth soccer complex. Luke air force base dining facility, and ASU's San Pablo residence hall.

Martin Alvarez:
When we started 30 years ago, our goal was to be a formidable general contractor and build structures. As time went on, we realize that we had talent and a lot of nice people helping us. Our goals changed. Like everything else, you need to re-engineer your company, we needed to re-engineer our goals. Now that we're building very fine, large sophisticated structures, our goals now are to help a lot of other people.

Nadine Arroyo:
And Alvarez senior has taken that goal to task. With his two sons at the helm of the company, scholarships to high school students and mentors other small businesses and these efforts he adds are partly the reason for sun eagle's success.

Mark Alvarez:
In the last 5 years, we have taken the company to a different level in the past five years. $40 million in sales in '07, and they did it all. So, they, with their personal leadership and their intensity, working six and seven days a week, five to six, seven years is very trying on your soul, but the rewards will come back.

Nadine Arroyo:
According to Hispanic enterprise magazine, the census indicates that between 1997 and 2000, Latino businesses averaged three times the national growth rate for all businesses. And enterprises like Sun Eagle Corporation are continuing the growth trend.

José Cárdenas:
Along with Sun Eagle Corporation, other Arizona businesses on the list are FPR two in Phoenix, El Charro Cafe in Tucson, Essco Wholesale Electric located in Chandler, and W.G. Valenzuela drywall in Tucson. Joining me now to talk about the importance of what these Latino businesses mean here in Arizona and across the country is Harry Garewal, president and CEO of the Arizona Hispanic chamber of commerce.

José Cárdenas:
Harry, always good to have you on "Horizonte." Thanks for joining us.

Harry Garewal:
Thank you.

José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about the significance of Arizona businesses being on this particular list.

Harry Garewal:
Well, I think one of the biggest opportunities that comes out from being on that list is to be identified nationally as an important part f the economic engine in the state of Arizona. What I mean specifically by that, procurement opportunities that come out of that. As companies look around the country at Arizona, and they see a company like sun eagle, they know that they have the skills and opportunities to come in and do work in their communities as well outside of Arizona.

José Cárdenas:
You have specific example involving sun eagle, I understand, Katrina being one opportunity they were able to take advantage of.

Harry Garewal:
They had been invited to participate in a number of opportunities put out by the federal government, because of their success here, they were able to go in and be competitive, if they chose to, not only in Katrina, but other opportunities around the country that came up, but specifically in Arizona, sun eagle has done a great job in establishing themselves, and as Marty said in the clip, they provide other opportunities to grow and mentor smaller companies to help them grow and become as successful as they are.

José Cárdenas:
And what is it about Arizona that makes it a good place for Latino businesses?

Harry Garewal:
Right now there are actually 35,000 Hispanic owned businesses in the state. It is because they see opportunities that are here that often are overlooked because they have a niche market. For example, you know, we have a palette for prepared meats that you don't find typically in a general market. Those kinds of opportunities. Some of the businesses that have just started up that are Hispanic owned, have a chance to get into some of the contractor opportunities from the federal government, and through our center which we operate through the U.S. Department of Commerce, we recognize a lot of procurement opportunities there, but a lot of them don't know that they're there, but they have been doing business because they were able to get into a niche market here in Arizona.

José Cárdenas:
Harry, there are other positives to talk about, both about sun eagle and the general atmosphere here, but as discussed in our last segment, negatives going on right now. Is that affecting, and by this I am talking about the profiling, employer sanctions, is that impacting Hispanic businesses and opportunities in Arizona in your view?

Harry Garewal:
It definitely is, José. One of the things we were concerned with this last summer, July, prior to the governor signing the house bill, the employer sanction bill, is that there was going to be this possible profiling, and we're seeing it come to fruition today. Specifically, an example that I can share with you is, you know, we've had hotel owners for example in other parts of the county who have said there are -- they are a little concerned about taking identification from individuals who are from other countries, because, you know, they're afraid that they might end up getting arrested for harboring undocumented --

José Cárdenas:
Some officials in the valley went into a hotel and gave that instruction.

Harry Garewal:
Yes, they did. They actually did. They said that because of the I.D. that was provided, it wasn't certain if they were here documented or undocumented. And in the hospitality industry shouldn't matter. If you are going to provide a room for shelter during the night, you need identification that the person is here and willing and able to pay for the room.

José Cárdenas:
What about businesses not coming because of the concerns about the current atmosphere and labor supply.

Harry Garewal:
Larger companies that we have had opportunity to talk with around the state have indicated that they're taking a wait and see approach to Arizona. Because of employer sanction and because of some of the other things that have gone on, and because of the loss of labor, you know. If you take a look at some of the industries, certainly the construction trade industry has been impacted because of housing, but there were other businesses who were seriously looking and considering Arizona, but there isn't the labor pool here anymore. They don't see that it is a friendly environment to come in because there is uncertainty. With the employer sanction law right now, there is not a clear definition of, you know, who do you verify? How do you go through those processes? The e-verify system has flaws in it. Again, there is a liability there.

José Cárdenas:
Going back to Sun Eagle, they are managing to prosper even in these difficult times. What is special about that company that has allowed them to do so?

Harry Garewal:
One of the things that is special about Sun Eagle is the management. He has been pretty good about diversifying his types of services that he provides. So he has gotten away from just being a general contractor to getting into real estate acquisition, and other areas that have helped him prosper and grow. I think it is good planning. He has a great team around him, and he is able to take advantage of those opportunities when he sees them by bringing in talented people to help him.

José Cárdenas:
A big key is diversification in a market like this.

Harry Garewal: bsolutely. Arizona, for all of the negatives that we have right now, there are so many great opportunities for businesses to come, and that is the message we need to send out so we can keep drawing those businesses to come here so we continue to prosper.

José Cárdenas:
Thank you for joining us.

Harry Garewal:
Thank you.

José Cárdenas:
Due to special pledge programming here on eight, "Horizonte" will be preempted for the next two weeks. As always, we thank you for watching. I'm José Cárdenas, have a good evening.

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If you have questions or comments about "Horizonte," please write to the addresses on the screen. Your comments may be used on a future edition of "Horizonte."

Antonio Bustamante: Phoenix attorney;

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