Is immigration reform needed?

March 14, 2009 4:27:37 PM PDT
The shooting of a police officer is causing renewed calls for immigration reform, especially when it comes to crime. People on all sides of the issue are split about what to do.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

"There's no real integrity to the whole system," said former INS Agent Michael Cutler.

"We want to send out the message that not every immigrant is a criminal. There's tons of hard working people out there, and it is for the reason of public safety that we need to know whose here," said Cesar Espinosa of the Central American Resource Center.

Most people agree with millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States, change is needed. However, what that change could be depends on who you ask.

Houston Mayor Bill White went on record by writing to the Office of Homeland Security asking illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes to be immediately deported. His request came after he learned that a man, Wilfido Joel Alfaro, suspected of shooting HPD Officer Rick Salter, was not in the U.S. legally.

It seems a repeat of what police said happened to Officer Rodney Johnson, shot by illegal immigrant Juan Quintero in 2006, as the officer tried to arrest him.

"ICE needs more agents, more facilities, and more resources. They need cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration," said Cutler.

Cutler was in Houston this weekend to talk to the group Texans for Immigration Reform.

The group's Louise Whiteford said, "It can be detrimental to our sovereignty not to have a clear policy on immigration."

Espinosa of the Central American Resource Center said more can be done by local law enforcement, but he doesn't want to see profiling.

"If they're going to check one sector of the population, they have to check everybody, not just the Latino community, not just the Asian community, the Muslim community, but they have to check everybody," said Espinosa.

Earlier this week, both Mayor White and Police Chief Harold Hurtt called for the federal government to change the way information is compiled on illegal immigrants and asked for access to the immigration and deportation status of people convicted of serious crimes.

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