SJPD chief reaches out to undocumented immigrants

July 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Jose's police chief reached out to the city's undocumented immigrants and said he needs their help as the murder rate climbs. However, many Latinos in San Jose are worried, afraid, and said they don't trust the police. Some even said they distrust the police so much, they don't call the police for help. And if things don't change soon, it could get worse.

At a community meeting Wednesday night, they told the chief of police exactly how they feel. Now, Latinos are threatening to stop working with police as informants or witnesses, unless the chief gets rid of two U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents, who work under the Department of Immigration. They joined San Jose police in late June to help with the city's growing gang problem.

"We already have a community that's fearful of the police department, many of them undocumented immigrants. So we feel this was a step backwards," said Jose Orta, the event organizer.

"Civil immigration enforcement is not what we do. It's not what we're going to do and these investigators that are working with us are not associated with that, I wouldn't allow that," said San Jose Chief Chris Moore.

The chief insists the city needs help, especially since there have been 28 homicides this year and half are gang related. But some undocumented residents, who didn't want to be identified, don't buy it.

One woman told ABC7 people in her community are very worried, they live in constant fear when leaving the house or even driving because the police might stop them and deport them.

Another woman's husband was deported. She says he's not a criminal, just someone who was a passenger in a car and not wearing a seat belt.

Then at the meeting, community leaders asked the chief directly to get rid of the two federal agents in 30 days.

"The Department of Homeland Security agents, working under our supervision, will stay there. I told them if for one second I see them operating outside guidelines, I will personally escort them out of the building," said Moore.

Still, that wasn't the response many wanted to hear. That's why on Friday, 15 non-profits and community action groups will get together to talk about next steps and possibly boycotting the San Jose Police Department.