Local News

Councilman: Policy Makes Durham 'Sanctuary' for Illegal Immigrants

Posted September 20, 2007

— The debate over immigration and questions about who has the right to police the issue was the subject of a Durham City Council work session on Thursday with Durham's new police chief.

Citizens also showed up in support of a 2003 policy, Resolution 9046, which prohibits police from targeting people solely on their immigration status. Immigration status isn't checked unless someone is involved in a serious crime.

Most police departments have the same policy, and Durham investigators say that without it, many victims and witnesses in crimes would be afraid to come forward.

But Councilman and mayoral candidate Thomas Stith said the policy makes Durham a sanctuary for illegal immigrants.

"And that's the crux of this," he said. "This is not about walking out of this room and seeing someone that doesn't look like me and you and saying, 'You're not supposed to be here.'"

However, that's how dozens of supporters of the resolution saw Stith's questioning. They said changes to the policy would violate individuals' civil rights.

"The reason it's an issue, I think, is because Councilman Stith is running for mayor, and he wants to run on an anti-immigrant platform," said local attorney Ricardo Velasquez.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell, who supports the current policy, was frustrated in the session.

"I'm comfortable with where we are, and unless someone moves to change it, I assume there's no need to do anything different," Bell said.

The city's new police chief, Jose Lopez, told council members he supports the policy. He said victims and witnesses are not asked about their immigration status. But in criminal cases, he said, suspects with immigration issues will be referred to the proper agency.

"This is not a sanctuary city for criminals," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • whatusay Sep 22, 2007

    The governments position (federal,state,local)on Illegal Immigration is destroying the "American Dream" for Americans. Out health care system is in a shambles because of illegals getting it for free. Our welfare system is a shambles because of illegals getting it for free. Our wages base is lowered because of illegals working and paying no taxes. Driving with fake ID's, no insurance, committing crimes, no immunity vaccinations, free education at tax payers expense, free lunches, free food, free or subsidized housing. This country is becoming a socialist state because our government wants it that way. Ted Kennedy and his liberals want to make all of them American citizens. WHY????

  • FlyByNight Sep 21, 2007

    The whole Country...is a sanctuary for them! They get away with whatever they want. As long as you need leaf blowers, fast food worker,maids,landscapers, and construction workers..they will remain here illegally. I often wonder why it is, someone would run 2000 miles illegally, to be modernized slaves and live in poverty. Yes, I remember the "better life" mantra, but we all know Mexico, is not the poorest country. Yet, once here all you do is demand things. How about demanding something from your own Country?

  • Mr Ripper Sep 21, 2007

    I live in Durham and it IS A HAVEN for illegals. I also work at a hospital here and it is amazing at how many come through the ER. One guy last week had 4 different ID's on him. We did not know which if any were correct. Let me try that. I went to McDonalds downtown while getting an oil change and all you heard was spanish. I purchased a home here 2 yrs ago. If I had known that the illegal population was this high and that the city government endorses it, I never would have moved here. Its only going to get worse. Ever been down to social services? It truly is a shame that you can sneak into the country and get welfare. If I go down to cirle k and steal a candy bar I am finger printed and arrested. I am out of here in 3 years to someplace thats less tolerant or maybe I should just change my name to something latin.

  • humbleblaklady Sep 21, 2007

    Why are we "hiding" behind the "smoke screen" of "illegal immigrants"--when we are ACTURALLY talking about illegal Mexicans--who make up 85-90% (according to Census Bureau estimates) of the "illegal immigrants? Hatians are SENT BACK; and any other country (other than Cuba--who we also willingly accept) illegal immigrants are found and sent back. Thus, if we were to be "fair and equal" another 90% times 10 million illegals would CLEARLY add to an economy which is already on a serious downward swing. A trillion dollars to Iraq and Afganistan; billions already being sent to "prop up the Mexican economy"; billions to Turkey to "be our friends" against terrorism; yet we are cutting $200 million from family/children WIC food programs; 3 tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens; $100 per year in PROFITS FOR OIL INDUSTRY; minimal money for rebuilding Mississippi and Lousiana; and War Vets, like myself continue to have benefits sliced. How much MORE can we take? Pile supporting illegals on pile!

  • humbleblaklady Sep 21, 2007

    Immigration status isn't checked unless someone is involved in a serious crime." Certainly this "crime thing" does not include DWI or "running into people" then "running away". I've been "hit twice" by "illegals" (according to police during the investigation). I had to go to court twice--ended up costing me over $14,000 in medical, auto replacement, lost time from work, etc. Had to take my daughter out of college for two semesters. Though the first incident happened in 1996, THEY (the illegals) have YET to show up! Why should I, or ANY LEGAL U.S. citizen have to pay in pain, suffering (physical and financial--not to include additional taxes, educational and anti-poverty benefits, etc.) for someone to "sneak" into this country with the SOLE justification that "they want to work and LIVE the American Dream"? Again, "THAT NOT MY JOB"! (to subsidize someone elses "dream" at the expense of me and my family.

  • billy Sep 21, 2007

    Illegal aliens are here illegally.
    Working illegal aliens usually have someone elses social security numbe, which I understand is another illegal act.
    Many use false names, have no drivers license, no auto insurance, and commit other crimes.
    Shouldn't all criminals be treated the same?
    I also understand that the Federal Government has a program that helps local governments apprehend and hold illegals, and reimburses them some money for doing this.
    Enforce the laws and quit playing politics, or just turn all the criminals loose.
    If your city council, mayors, representatives, and senators don't do their jobs vote them out.

  • Tripwire Sep 21, 2007

    I know the answer to illegal immigration. open all the borders, allow unrestricted immigration especially from third world countries. Within 30 years The United States will become a third world country itself and nobody will want to come here anymore illegaly or otherwise. We will be the country everyone will be trying to immigrate from! Problem solved.

  • Amusedone Sep 21, 2007

    con amor--If you are so concerned about illegal immigrants, start your own group and go to their COUNTRY OF ORIGIN to help them. I would respect--even applaud--your charitable efforts. However, you don't seem to understand that there are THOUSANDS of U.S. families who are "going without food,education,medical care, and all other basic needs" here in the U.S., but there is no fence for them to hop over. If the billions of dollars spent on illegal immigrants was instead spent on U.S. citizens, we could virtually eliminate poverty in the U.S. I don't want to make any assumptions, but those who support allowing illegal immigrants free reign tend to come from middle to upper middle class backgrounds. Unfortunately, illegals DO compete for jobs and limited resources in the U.S. with lower and lower-middle class U.S. citizens. It isn't a fair competition when they can change identities, work under the table, drive without insurance, and live with 6 adults/10 kids in a 2 bedroom house.

  • nolyinghere Sep 21, 2007

    atozca, what make yu think it cost that much to come to this coutry. Did it just sound good to say that. really that was a pretty ignorant statement, actually a very ignorant statement

  • Local_Moderate Sep 21, 2007

    Am I the only one who sees "Stith" and thinks "Sith?"