ICE Bequeaths More Enforcement Power

The number of areas around the country where state or local law enforcement is enforcing immigration laws has grown, according to two recent articles in The Washington Post. Through the "287 (g)" program, a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, ICE has deputized local officers to do some of its work in seven areas, with about a dozen more in negotiations to start similar programs.

This may sound like a good idea to some -- enforce our laws, however inadequate they may be -- but the plan has flaws throughout. According to traditional interpretation of the Constitution, the Federal government alone has the authority to enforce immigration law, essentially because immigration deals with national -- not state or county -- borders. Federal enforcement also hopes to ensure a uniform -– and fair -- application of immigration laws. Random counties' enacting immigration laws as they see fit results in a patchwork of legality, where police hunt foreigners in one county but not in the next; where a traffic violation can lead to deportation in this state but not the neighboring one.

And this leads to the major probability that police will pull over drivers for what we might call a DWF -- Driving While Foreign-looking -- or DWL -- Driving While Latino. According to the Post: "The House earlier this month was weighing a measure ‘reaffirming’ the authority of local law enforcement agencies to arrest people on suspicion of violating immigration laws." How does one come to suspect someone of immigration violations on sight?

Indeed, the first Post article cites the case of Mexican national Guadalupe Lara who “was pulled over by police after buying a pack of cigarettes”. In Lara’s case the police ended up discovering an undocumented person, but how could they suspect him? Because of his perceived ethnicity, which has nothing to do with immigration status.

In the second article, the Post quotes John DeNoyer, a former council member in Herndon, VA, which just became the latest locale to join the ICE program:

“‘Would I be profiled as a suspected terrorist or illegal alien because I have a beard and often turn brown toward the end of an outdoor summer?’ he asked. ‘Please do not glorify and nurture the xenophobic hysteria that is affecting our town.’"

That hysteria has enveloped many communities in the USA, stoking the flames of hostility towards all immigrants and native-born U.S. of various ethnicities.

"Texas, New York and California might be used to large influxes of illegal immigrants -- but we're not," said Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James, who favors stronger enforcement. "James Carville had it right: We're just Mayberry with a major airport." (WP)

Few were used to living in a slaveless society or attending racially integrated schools. Fear of change is a rather poor reason for avoiding progress. Neither is James’s attitude the only one taken by law enforcement:

"In the Montgomery County area, we've taken more the track that we celebrate diversity," said Gaithersburg Police Chief Mary Ann Viverette, who is also the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. (WP)

"The law enforcement community is split on this issue," said Gene Voegtlin, legislative counsel for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. (WP)

But reactionary behavior does seem to be the will of the immigration authorities, according to Robert J. Hines, who heads the deputization program for ICE:

"When you are removing the criminal element from the community, it's hard to point a finger and say it's a bad thing," Hines said. (WP)

Notice he says "the" criminal element. If undocumented immigrants were "the" criminal element in "the" community, why did national crime rates drop throughout the 1990s as the undocumented population increased? This is called scapegoating. Put everyone's sins onto one funny-looking goat and send it off into the wilderness to expiate the village. This country did it to the earlier Irish immigrants; Germans in the Nazi era did it to Jews.

Nevertheless, Hines says that "in the past three months, hundreds of state and local departments have inquired about [acquiring the power of immigration enforcement]."

The Post also cites this from one of our national legislators: "No more excuses," U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick (R) said at a news conference..., calling for tougher enforcement. "You're drunk. You're driving. You're illegal. You're deported. Period."

It's decidedly un-American to enforce laws unequally, but consider that an undocumented immigrant, like Lara, ends up arrested and deported for violating an open-container law, while Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) gets police escorts and rehab for drunkenly crashing his car.

, , , , , .


Blogger wild cherry sara said...

you know what the upshot is? this is gonna be GREAT for tourism.

12:14 PM, September 28, 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home