Tuesday, December 5, 2006

C'ville to debate police training on immigration law enforcement

December 5, 2006
CARPENTERSVILLE -- A resolution to provide funding for immigration law enforcement training to village police officers could prove controversial at tonight's meeting as the debate on whether illegal immigration is a local or federal problem most likely will be raised.

The training initiative is designed to multiply the forces of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and enhance cooperation and communication with the state and local law enforcement.

ICE is working with 30 agencies in the United States designing training courses which focus on immigration law, civil rights, intercultural relations and racial profiling. After completing the courses, officers become accredited and receive special authorities regarding immigration violators and access to ICE resources, such as a database that contains information on 100 million aliens.

According to its Web site, ICE provides the instruction and materials for the training, but the municipalities are required to continue to pay the officers' salaries in addition to needed software programs and possible travel costs.

Village Trustee Judy Sigwalt asked for the resolution to be placed on the agenda and said it will "keep the federal government on its toes."

"I look at it this way," she said. "By sending the resolution to the government, we are showing that we are not going away."

According to ICE spokesman Mike Gilhooly, the federal agency responds to 800,000 cases a year from local law enforcement agencies; 18,600 of those cases alone come from Illinois.

He said providing training for local agencies would allow those officers the chance to determine and take action against an illegal alien suspected of a crime rather than waiting for an ICE officer to respond.

Sigwalt said the federal government in past years had stymied that kind of empowerment for local agencies.

"This is very important because it shows the federal government is looking for help," she said. "I was told by one of our police officers that back in the 1980s, they were allowed to ask for identification and the federal government put a stop to that, and now look at what we have."

But if the funds are approved, the village still needs to apply for the training.

Police Chief David Neumann said he has asked for the application packet but has yet to apply to the program. He said he began researching the training program before a controversial ordinance debuted in the village in October that would establish English as it's official language and proposed fines for employers and landlords who aid and abet illegal aliens.

Village President Bill Sarto said if Neumann thinks the training would be beneficial for the village, he would support him. But Sarto still is hesitant to back the training since he believes it is another opportunity for the federal government to pawn off its responsibility on local entities.

"This is one of those feel good things that people want to put on the agenda to make it look like we are doing something," he said.