A ‘gut feeling’
Still, Perez has his concerns.
“The more information by qualified people who can tell about the reality of the law, how it’s going to be implemented, is helpful to reassure the community that it’s not as bad as they think,” he agreed. “But the intentions of the law actually is to intimidate, there’s no question about that.”
He said it could also impact him personally, even though he is a U.S. citizen — and perhaps endanger the life of a patient.
“I am concerned that I may be stopped on the way to the hospital (to see a patient) and be told, ‘Show me your papers,’ and be detained to have to show my immigration status,” he said. “So I’m going to carry my passport with me all the time. So it’s going to affect people — from Belgium, from Europe, from Germany at the Volkswagen plant (in Chattanooga) — having houses here. Nobody sees this law in a good way ... there are students who are coming here. We are trying to be an international community, but when they see the environment I think they would be unwise to invite somebody to come and take part in the different activities here.”
Perez said most Latinos “are not criminals.”
“They are people who are trying to make a better living here, and are quite supportive to our economy — and it is why we should give them a hand,” he said. “I am concerned about lawsuits against the city, against the police if they conduct things in a way that is not constitutional.”
But as a police officer, Nietzche looks at the law differently.
“It will help back up that gut feeling you have about someone,” he said. “In the course of an investigation, the law gives you a list of credible documents you can ask for. If there are no documents, you can use any available resources to determine who they are. (The law) gives us more tools.”