Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Police Chief Serpas debunks law enforcement/immigration connection, touts new Hispanic outreach program

"It's foolish to think that this country's immigration problems are going to be settled on the backs of local police officers. Those who have a different point of view? I welcome it. But I also welcome them to petition government to better fund INS so INS can do its job better."

"I think people are confusing the issues. We will always enforce the law in a just and fair fashion. What some have asked police to do is use their entrees — the very few that we have in immigrant communities — to now go in and ask them whether they belong in this country. How then does the community differentiate between a police officer wearing my uniform that's coming to ask, 'We understand you were victimized by an armed robber, please tell us what happened,' vs. them seeing this uniform and saying, 'Oh my goodness, are they here to see whether I belong legally?'"

"What El Protector will do is create a board of directors that has representatives of the Hispanic media, the chambers of commerce, community leaders. We will methodically start going through the problems, the first one being language. I would be very encouraged by people who want to help me with language barriers, but some only want to do it by getting paid. I don't have that kind of money."

The Tennessean

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