Tucson police dispatchers fill out a form each time an officer requests an immigration check. The Star reviewed 2,030 forms completed in July and August and shared the findings with TPD Chief Roberto Villaseñor.
Finding: The largest cluster of checks was along 22nd Street between Interstate 10 and South Park Avenue. Activists say police target the area near Southside Presbyterian Church, which hosts a day-laborer center at 317 W. 23rd St.
Response: The pattern is largely due to enforcement at Santa Rita Park, where drugs and alcohol have been problems.
Finding: About a quarter of the checks in that cluster stem from the driver lacking a valid U.S. license or registration.
Response: “Southside Presbyterian is known as an immigrant activist location, so obviously they are going to draw more immigrants to that area who will then have contact with officers if they are involved in any type of activity whether it be a traffic stop or any type of enforcement. I think there may be some merit to what they are saying, but not for the reasons that they are saying.”
Finding: The most common charge leading to an immigration check was driving without a valid license or registration. More than 40 percent of the forms cited this offense.
Response: This could be due to his requirement that police give at least one traffic citation a shift, and license and registration violations are the easiest to spot.
Finding: The next four top charges were shoplifting, non-accident DUI, drug possession and other offenses and misdemeanors, a category that includes drinking in public.
Response: The distribution matches patterns in crime. Clusters of checks were also at shopping centers and parks regularly used by homeless people.