Immigration meeting held between HPD, AZ officials

HOUSTON Phoenix police presented Senate Bill 1070, which allows them to call immigration officers on a suspect believed to be in the country illegally. It's something Houston police currently do not do.

Phoenix police say they've seen a drastic reduction in crime because of the law. That has certainly caught the attention of the Houston Police Officer's Union as the momentum for a similar law here in Texas continues to build.

"It's another tool to make our communities safer," said Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.

On Thursday, it took center stage at a luncheon hosted by the Houston Police Officer's Union. The presentation was put on by Phoenix's association. Spencer supports the law and says crimes involving illegal immigrants were out of control.

"Six Phoenix police officers murdered," Spencer said. "Hispanics were three times more likely to be homicide victims in the city of Phoenix."

Some believe the problems in Texas are no different than in Arizona. State Representative Debbie Riddle of Tomball, who attended Thursday's event, plans to introduce a similar bill next session.

"This has nothing to do with skin color. It has everything to do with conduct," Riddle said.

Opponents disagree and believe such a law would lead to racial profiling and spread fear through Houston's immigrant community.

"We talk to immigrants every day who prefer not to call police even though it doesn't exist here," opponent Maria Jiminez said.

While the Houston Police Officer's Union hasn't taken an official stance, President Gary Blankinship says the bottom line is something has to be done.

"We're seeing more and more repeat offenders we deport for criminal conduct, and they come back into the country illegally again and again," Blankinship said.

Local advocates for immigrants' rights and opponents of Arizona's immigration law say they are busy waging their own campaign to fight any efforts to get a similar law passed here in Texas.

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