By Liz Sullivan
Law enforcement officials and community leaders from across Santa Clara County came together March 14 at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose for a press conference to address the question of immigration and the law enforcement agencies’ role in enforcing it.
“Public safety is the primary concern of police,” said Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing, who is president of the Santa Clara County Police Chiefs’ Association. “We have no intention to enforce federal law.”
In a statement that he read aloud Swing said, “Our officers will not detain or arrest any person on the basis of the person’s citizenship or status under civil immigration laws. It is not our mission, nor our role. Our departments recognize that mutual trust and respect is the cornerstone in building a solid foundation for our success, and we will treat all of our residents with dignity regardless of status.”
The press conference was a response, and a sign of support, for those dealing with immigration fears of deportation. On January 27, President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order titled: “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” A synopsis of the order states it is to improve national security policy and public safety measures by directing executive departments and agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure the nation’s southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States and send illegal aliens back to their own country.
Father Jon Pedigo, Director of Projects for Peace and Justice for the Diocese, also spoke. He was joined by Most Holy Trinity Church Pastor Father Bob Fambrini, S.J., community members and clergy from other religions in the county.
“This is a declaration,” said Pedigo. “These are not just words, but a commitment of us as a community. It is a commitment that we are all in this together. We applaud law enforcement officials for taking this stand.”
Santa Clara County District Attorney, Jeff Rosen, also spoke at the press conference and said, “what you hear today is a steadfast commitment to keeping the trust that we have received from the community. This bond of faith that creates justice.”