By Joe Ferguson
(Flagstaff) Arizona Daily Sun
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 06.03.2009
advertisementFederal immigration agents won't be renting an office from the city when they set up shop in Flagstaff soon.
City Manager Kevin Burke issued a memo on Monday stating that because of a public perception problem, the city would not allow the federal agency to set up its offices inside the city-owned portion of the Law Enforcement Administrative Facility.
Burke said a key factor was the concern that illegal immigrants wouldn't come to the facility to report crimes knowing that immigrant agents were nearby.
Last week, community members opposed to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said illegal immigrants are reluctant to report crimes, fearing they may be deported.
"If victims and witnesses of crimes are not coming to the LEAF building because they know (immigration) offices are in the building, this is a problem. If they are not reporting the crimes to the Flagstaff Police Department because they think we are one and the same due to a co-located office, this impacts our public safety," Burke wrote.
ICE spokesman Vincent Picard said the decision would not influence his agency's plans for Northern Arizona operations.
Burke downplayed the decision to deny office space to ICE, noting the federal agency was only looking for temporary offices in the city building.
The city manager also said opponents and supporters of ICE used scare tactics during last week's meeting in an attempt to garner council support.
"ICE talks about the very fearful safety implications that come with narcotics, weapons, cash- and human-smuggling. I have no reason to doubt these are real effects, but certainly they were highlighting the most drastic aspects of their work," he wrote.
"The audience, on the flip side, also engaged in generating fear by telling of stories of residents afraid to get food, and children being torn from their parents or vice versa."
By Joe Ferguson