PIMA COUNTY, AZ ( Tucson News Now) - On Friday, March 17, Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier issued a statement about immigration and border security in southern Arizona.
Sheriff Mark Napier said he wants a secure border, but does not want his department carrying out ICE raids or rounding up illegal immigrants.
"I simply do not have the resources to adopt responsibility for federal immigration enforcement, don't have the resources and I think from a public safety standpoint it's contraindicated," Sheriff Mark Napier said.
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier said he supports President Trump's increased emphasis on border security, but feels strongly his deputies should not be involved in the role of federal agents. With currently 500 sworn deputies policing a county that spans more than nine thousand miles, he said it's not feasible.
When the Sheriff took office in January, he was also strapped with a projected $6 million deficit. He told Tucson News Now that the Pima County jail is nearly filled to capacity with regular criminals and there is not space to hold a large number of people for federal immigration violations. He also does not want undocumented immigrants to fear law enforcement.
"It's not enhancing public safety to create that fear, it detracts from public safety to create that fear. If a person without respect for documented status in this country witnesses a crime, we want them to come forward as witnesses to help us solve crime," Napier said.
The Sheriff said the human toll associated with immigration is very real for his department as they recover 150 bodies in the desert area of Pima County every year. Next week, the four Border Sheriff's are meeting with senior officials from the White House to talk more about the border problems we face in Southern Arizona.
The city of Tucson and Police Chief Chris Magnus have issued similar statements.
Napier said the PCSD can't, or won't, do it for several reasons:
• They don't have the staff to patrol the county and "proactive enforcement of federal immigration laws." Also, the county jail isn't big enough to hold extra inmates.
"While I support the increased attention given to the border and welcome additional federal resources, the Pima County Sheriff's Department does not have the capacity to engage in proactive enforcement of federal immigration laws," Napier said in the statement.
• Becoming an arm on federal immigration will hurt the PCSD's ability to keep the community safe.
"People in our community without legal documentation must be able to come forward and interact with law enforcement as victims and witnesses to criminal activity," he said. "If these people cannot interact with local law enforcement out of fear of deportation, we create an entire block of our community that will be victims of crime with no recourse and will not be partners with the community in reporting crime."
• There are plenty of Border Patrols agents already enforcing federal law.
"There are several thousand Border Patrol personnel in Pima County," Napier said. "They are able to respond rapidly to our requests for support. There is no need for personnel of the Pima County Sheriff's Department to be cross-certified as immigration agents (287G Program)."
MOBILE USERS: The KOLD News 13 mugshots of the month are available HERE.
Napier's complete and unedited release can be found below: