September 29, 2008

Study: U.S. Hispanics say they're frequently stopped and asked status

By DIANNE SOLÍS / The Dallas Morning News

Nearly one in 10 Hispanics in the United States report that police or other authorities have stopped them in the last year and asked them about their immigration status, the Pew Hispanic Center said in a report released today.

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Link: Pew Hispanic Center
The finding comes amid the biggest crackdown in decades illegal immigration — one that’s been highly visible in Texas, the No. 2 destination for such migrants. Municipal police in several suburbs of Dallas, including Irving and Carrollton, have stepped up cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Nationally, deportations or removals of Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans from the interior of the United States have doubled since 2005, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Renato de los Santos, a Latino leader in Dallas, called the survey’s finding alarming and suggested that racial, ethnic or language profiling should be stopped unless it involves a terrorism suspect.

“It is the only way we as U.S. citizens should tolerate that,” said Mr. de los Santos, a North Texas district director for the League of United Latin American Citizens.

In Washington, the report’s co-author Mark Lopez characterized the finding as surprising but declined to speculate on causes as survey follow-up questions weren’t asked.

The report by the nonpartisan research center surveyed about 2,000 Hispanic adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. Hispanics constitute about 15.4 percent of the U.S. population, or 46 million people. Roughly 30 million are over 18 years of age. About half of the adult population is foreign-born.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment.

In Irving, where Latinos and the regional Mexican consul complained loudly last year about police procedures, police spokesman David Tull emphasized that Irving police officers don’t carry out deportations. But in booking at the jail, citizenship is established, Officer Tull said. If officers believe ICE should be called to do further inquiry, the agency is called, he said.

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Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?