“9500 Liberty” Filmmaker Responds to Prince William County Immigration Study

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    Filmmaker and activist Eric Byler, who – along with his partner Annabel Park – documented the Prince William County immigration resolution controversy in the powerful film, “9500 Liberty,” has some thoughts on a new study on the policy’s results, 3 years later. Keep in mind that Eric Byler knows more about this issue than just about anyone else out there. (bolding added by me for emphasis)

    *”If Prince William County is a “model” of any kind, it’s a model of a costly and dysfunctional way to end up with the preferred approach of the Obama Administration.  Beyond that, we’re discussing the impact of the year-long controversy in Prince William County much more so than our short-lived S.B. 1070 precursor.”

    *”The elephant in the room is the fact that Prince William County’s ‘probable cause’ mandate was repealed, over Chairman Stewart’s objection, after only eight weeks of implementation.”

    *”Chairman Stewart wants to attract the kind of attention Jan Brewer has received thanks to S.B. 1070’s very similar ‘reasonable suspicion’ provision.  But in fact, Stewart is a more appropriate spokesperson for the Obama Administration’s Secure Communities program than he is for S.B. 1070.”

    *”[The] report mentions but does not emphasize the fact that type of crime in which we saw the most significant drop (aggravated assault) was also the category targeted by Chief Deane’s Robbery Unit, which went into effect in 2006 before the immigration controversy was initiated.”

    *”[The] report suggests that some Hispanics did leave, and that many of those who left lacked legal status.  Thus, the only conclusive information in the report is that the controversy succeeded in leveling off the growth of the Hispanic population.  But is reversing or delaying demographic shift more important than other resource needs, and more important than other concerns that impact the lives of county residents?”

    more comments on the “flip”

    *”…the statistics on reported aggravated assault victims and offenders show that during and after the controversy, Hispanic offenders saw no change, while Hispanic victims went down. This supports the theory that reporting goes down during such controversies; not actual crimes. And, it subverts the implicit assumption that a drop in this category represents less Hispanics, or less illegal-immigrants committing aggravated assault.”

    *”The report acknowledges that we can’t know for sure if a decrease in aggravated assault reporting means Hispanics were less often victims, less often perpetrators, or less often reporting when they are victims.  But, proponents of SB 1070 (and/or of the secretly short-lived PWC policy as a surrogate for SB 1070) will rely on the perception that Hispanics or illegal immigrants are perpetrators and white people are victims of crime.  My impression is that this perception is easily triggered and exploited.  Meanwhile, research and detailed analysis that subverts this perception is time-consuming, complicated, and ultimately inconclusive.  This is a more accurate predictor of which interpretation will take hold than their relative accuracy.”

    *”Secure Communities requires immigration status checks in the jails.”

    *”The policy that remains in Prince William County after the repeal of the “probable cause” mandate requires status checks at the magistrate, after custodial arrest.”