Guest Columnist

Police chief: DACA makes Cedar Rapids safer

Coe students and community members, including Steven Shelby of Cedar Rapids (far right), march down First Avenue East fr
Coe students and community members, including Steven Shelby of Cedar Rapids (far right), march down First Avenue East from the college to May’s Island during a march and demonstration in support of DACA recipients and other immigrants in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

I have been a police officer since 1979 and have served as the Cedar Rapids Police Chief since 2012. My number one priority is — and always will be — public safety. That is why I am grateful for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Since the program began in June 2012, nearly 3,000 Iowans have become DACA recipients — also known as Dreamers. They are immigrants who came to the United States as children and have earned the ability to temporarily live, work, and study here.

To receive DACA, these young men and women have passed extensive background checks and have submitted biometric data. They are lawful, productive contributors to our community.

The legal protections that DACA recipients receive make Cedar Rapids safer. Immigrants who fear deportation are less likely to report a crime committed against them. It is vital that all members of the Cedar Rapids community trust the police, and DACA helps reassure Dreamers that they can contact the Cedar Rapids Police Department if they are a victim of a crime. DACA recipients can be confident that they can safely step forward to help us get criminals off the street and out of our community.

DACA has improved trust between Dreamers and local law enforcement, and I am concerned that if there is not a legislative solution, some individuals may be less likely to report a crime or step forward as witnesses.

DACA has been a successful program and splitting families apart by eliminating it is certainly not right or just. Instead, it is my hope that our lawmakers will pass a legislative solution that would protect Iowa Dreamers and provide a pathway for DACA recipients to earn their citizenship.

Wayne Jerman is Cedar Rapids’ chief of police.

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