Although Many Utahns Were Disgruntled With Former Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank’s Refusal to Enforce Federal Immigration Law, He Was Right
By Ken K. Gourdin
In 2011, The Salt Lake Tribune named (now-former) Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank its Utahn of the Year for his efforts to build bridges, to improve communication, and to ensure positive police-community relations. While many people were and are unhappy with Chief Burbank’s refusal to allow his officers to do the federal government’s bidding by enforcing immigration law, that refusal was a key part of his bridge-building, communication-improvement, and community relations efforts, because allowing local officers to enforce federal immigration law likely would decrease the willingness of a key segment of the community to provide information crucial to supporting law enforcement and crime fighting efforts. I said as much in my response to the story, which can be found here (last accessed September 28, 2016:
I commented as follows:
Yes, immigration laws need to be more strictly enforced, but local law enforcement isn’t the appropriate apparatus to do that. Illegal immigration is malum prohibitum (wrong because the law says it is) not malum in se (inherently [morally] wrong). Enlisting local law enforcement to enforce immigration law will make those who have information regarding more serious, mala in se crimes (but whose immigration status is in question) even more reluctant to come forward. People are already reluctant to talk to law enforcement as it is: we don’t need to add to their reluctance.