Utah Police Chief Accuses Lawmakers Of Using Racist Rhetoric

June 18, 2010

Utah (ChattahBox) – A Salt Lake City police chief squared off with lawmakers this morning, calling their call for a vote on immigration laws similar to Arizona’s an “obvious xenophobic agenda.”

Chief Chris Burbank stood up in opposition to an immigration bill that would put the burden of arresting illegal immigrants into the hands of Utah police.

“Requiring local police agencies to enforce federal immigration laws is contrary to our mission, marginalizes significant segments of the population and ultimately harms effective community policing,” Burbank said.

“We function best when we are a part of, not apart from, the community. We are still struggling to repair the mistrust, resentment and rage that many communities continue to feel.”

He also spoke out against statements made by unnamed lawmakers that claim crimes (specifically violent crimes) are perpetrated by Latin minorities, and in greatest numbers among undocumented immigrants.

“It is unconscionable that persons are attempting to misuse their elected office and law enforcement to advance an obviously xenophobic agenda. In a recent debate, a Utah state representative publicly stated that a lack of proficiency with the English language amounted to reasonable suspicion to stop and detain an individual. This clearly constitutes racial profiling.”

Lawmakers deny they are building the law based on race, saying it is purely on the status of their citizenship. They have no addressed concerns over possible clauses involving the use of English, or what will constitute probable cause for an arrest.

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