Daniel Merritt ’13, a politics major from Claremont, Calif., has written a guest opinion piece based on his research findings that was published in the Sunday, March 4 issue of The Walla Walla Union Bulletin.
In the piece, Merritt, a student researcher with Whitman’s “State of the State for Washington Latinos” group, argues that the Secure Communities immigration enforcement initiative threatens the relationship between Latinos and local law enforcement by hurting families and placing undue burdens on local jails.
“Members of the Latino community here in Eastern Washington say that the program is breaking up families by deporting people arrested on minor charges,” he writes. “They also say Secure Communities is making them wary of contacting the police to report public safety problems unless something very serious has happened.”
The initiative went into effect in summer 2011 across Benton, Franklin, Yakima and Walla Walla counties, and is intended to enhance cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. Merritt, along with two fellow student researchers, released a report challenging the effectiveness of the program at a news conference on campus in February.