Local communities are in limbo waiting for federal lawmakers to come up with a clear federal immigration policy, Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn said at a forum Wednesday.
Dunn and Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., appeared before about 50 local residents to answer questions, mainly revolving around immigration laws under consideration in Washington, D.C.
Hayworth said he disagrees with many plans, such as amnesty for immigrants in the country illegally.
"If people are not obeying existing law, what makes us think they’ll obey any new laws?" Hayworth said.
He criticized plans that would grant amnesty or work visas to Mexican immigrants before non-Mexican immigrants.
But Hayworth said, to him, immigration is more of a national security issue than anything else.
"In wartime, national security has to take precedence over every other concern," he said.
Dunn said he disagrees with suggestions that local jurisdictions should be given authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
"It’s a very difficult thing to enforce without involving the color of the skin of the person involved," Dunn said. "If you ask people who are citizens of this country to prove that they’re citizens, you’re going to get some emotional reactions."
Dunn said Chandler’s 1997 "roundup," during which police officers swept the city in search of illegal immigrants, was more than enough of a lesson not to get involved with enforcing federal immigration laws.
"It’s not something I want to revisit," he said.
Dunn said the city now has specific written policies that state the police department will not enforce immigration laws.