Central Iowa Police Chief Urges Congress To Pass Legislation That Protects DACA Recipients

Sep 13, 2017

A central Iowa police chief says he’s “very fearful” that ending an Obama-era immigration policy will diminish public safety in his community, so he's urging Congress to pass legislation that allows people who were eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continuing living and working in the US. 

DACA grants two-year, renewable waivers to people were brought to the country illegally as children and for many recipients, the US is the only home they've ever known.  Marshalltown’s Chief Mike Tupper says once people lose these waivers they may not be as communicative with his department out of fear of deportation.  

"If all of the sudden they’re no longer feeling comfortable in calling the police to report when they’re a crime victim or when they might need help, that might have devastating impacts," he says. "We need the public’s help. We need the public to be our eyes and ears. We need the public to be able to trust in us."

Tupper made his comments during a press call organized by the National Immigration Forum. Now that DACA is being phased out, the advocacy organization wants legislation passed to protect people from deportation. 

The Trump administration says it has to end DACA because it's not constitutional, though the president wants Congress to pass legislation that benefits those who currently have waivers. However, conservatives have criticized DACA, saying it grants amnesty to undocumented immigrants who cut in line ahead of others who have followed the rules.

According to data cited by Iowa's Attorney General from the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services, more than 5,500 Iowa residents have applied for a DACA waiver or to renew a DACA waiver since March 31. 

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 17.5 percent of Marshalltown's residents, a city of less than 27,500, are foreign born. More than 24 percent are Hispanic or Latino. 

In 2006, 90 people were arrested during immigration raid at Marshalltown's Swift & Co. meatpacking plant. Tupper wasn't in Marshalltown when that raid took place, but he says it's taken a long time for his department to recover and rebuild trust with the community.

"Local law enforcement had absolutely nothing to do with that raid," he says, "but you know when people see somebody in uniform, we're the face of law enforcement, and we kind of all get thrown into the same group at times."

This March, Tupper was one of 63 sheriffs and police chiefs from around the county who signed a letter stating that threatening to remove federal grant money from local law enforcement agencies that choose not to spend "limited resources" on enforcing federal immigration law was "extremely problematic" and "would not make our communities safer and would not fix any part of our broken immigration system". The letter came after the Trump administration threatened to withhold federal funding from so-called "sanctuary cities."