"Charity is commendable, everyone should be charitable. But Justice aims to create a social order in which, if individuals choose not to be charitable, people still don't go hungry, unschooled or sick without care. Charity depends on the vicissitudes of whim and personal wealth, justice depends on commitment instead of circumstance.
Faith-based charity provides crumbs from the table; faith-based justice offers a place at the table"
~Bill Moyers

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Activists accuse Balcones Heights of profiling

Is this a case of combining Racism, Xenophobia, Nativism to Profits? Just fill these jails in the Private Prison Complex anyway you can?


Web Posted: 02/10/2009 12:00 CST

By Jeorge Zarazua - Express-News

More than 40 protesters rallied outside the Balcones Heights Police Department on Monday, accusing officers of racial profiling in efforts to detain unauthorized immigrants.

“Since early December there have been cases of racial profiling,” said Carlos de Leon, spokesman for the activist group Brown Berets of San Antonio. “The Police Department has been acting as immigration agents. As a result, they have been randomly stopping anyone who looks Hispanic and asking them for their papers.”

But city officials denied the allegations, saying officers understand they cannot enforce federal immigration policies.

“We're not acting as an ICE agent, no way,” said Police Chief Bill Stannard, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “We're just acting as a police officer.”

Stannard said officers do not stop anyone unless they have probable cause, such as a traffic violation. He said officers then question the suspect, and if the person doesn't have any identification and can't be identified via computer, additional steps are taken.

“If we think they are a foreign-born national, we will call immigration,” he said. “The officer will call immigration. The agent will come out immediately or they talk to them on the telephone, and many of the times immigration is the one who will identify these people,” Stannard said.

It's that practice that drew the ire of the Brown Berets and several other Hispanic activist groups Monday as they marched into the Police Department's front parking lot, carrying banners and posters and shouting for justice.

“Everybody knows we're here today to stop racial profiling here at Balcones Heights,” Tony Mandujano of the American G.I. Forum said through a bullhorn.

Mandujano, De Leon and others argued that local police officers have no business enforcing federal immigration laws.

Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said he didn't understand why Balcones Heights would be calling immigration officials.

“I think that's pretty reprehensible,” Harrington said. “They really don't have the right to demand people give their identification unless they have some reason to believe that the identification that person is giving them is wrong. People are not required in this country to carry some sort of proof with them of their identity.”

Spokesmen for both the Bexar County Sheriff's Department and the San Antonio Police Department said they don't make it a practice to call immigration authorities regarding suspects they detain. But Ino Badillo, spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, said immigration officials do make daily stops at the county jail in search of possible unauthorized immigrants.

Stannard, a 33-year peace officer, said he feels his department is acting properly when officers detain people who can't be identified.

“I took an oath as a police officer,” he said. “I feel like we're not racially profiling and that we're doing the right thing. It's not about race. It's not about color. It's whether or not they are here legally or not.”

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