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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Illegal immigration: Should Local Enforcement Assist?

Reposted with permission from Sonoran News, Cave Creek, Arizona. Illegal immigration: Should Local Enforcement Assist? Fifth in a series of articles on the Southwest Conference on Illegal Immigration, Border Security and Crime hosted by Maricopa County Attorney's Office that was held Nov. 4 – 5.

Reporter for Sonoran News

SCOTTSDALE – The last panel discussion on the first day of the Southwest Conference on Illegal Immigration, Border Security and Crime, moderated by Arizona Republic Columnist Bob Robb, dealt with whether local law enforcement should help to curb illegal immigration.State Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, led off the discussion by saying, “It’s amazing the debate keeps going on.

Illegal is an easy concept.” Citing 5,000 to 10,000 illegal aliens cross the border every night, he said, “We need to enforce the law with compassion. It’s very clear whose job it is, but the minute they cross the border…” Pearce said, “We have an obligation. It’s against the law to cross the border illegally.

It’s illegal to hire them.

Law enforcement has the authority to enforce criminal laws.” Pearce, who can rattle off facts and figures associated with illegal immigration at the drop of a hat, said that in Los Angeles 95 percent of the homicide warrants are issued for illegal aliens, while 85 percent of the 6,000 child molesters were illegal aliens.

Indicating non-enforcement creates a lure, Pearce said, “If you’re not going to enforce your laws and then reward me with jobs, free health care, free education…” University of Missouri law professor Kris Kobach was next to speak. Former counsel to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, he is currently assisting a group of outofstate students that has challenged the university for granting an exemption on out-of-state tuition to illegal aliens, Kobach stated, “It’s been made clear the assistance of local law enforcement would make a significant impact,” and said state and local law enforcement have the inherent authority.

Referring to an earlier panel discussion, Kobach said, “Contrary to what Eleanor Eisenberg said, there is no provision in U.S.Code prohibiting law enforcement from enforcing immigration law.

She also incorrectly stated crossing the border is a civil offense,” adding, a police officer does not need probable cause to ask a person their immigration status.Since signing agreements with the federal government, Kobach said Florida made 165 immigration arrests and Alabama made 200 in their first year.

Kobach cited four of the 19 terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks were “missed opportunities,” when they were stopped for traffic violations and let go, while another terrorist arrived on a student visa and never showed up for class.

“He was in violation that day,” Kobach added.

According to Kobach there are more than 465,000 absconders who have been ordered deported, including murderers, child molesters and cop killers, and said the MS13 Gang, the majority of its members in the country illegally, has expanded to 33 states.

“Smuggling will not decrease until law enforcement doubles,” said Kobach, adding, “The legal authority exists. Cow-towing and sanctuary policies are not only in violation of the law they’re a profound disservice to the country.” Daniel Ortega, Jr., a board member of Los Abogados, the Hispanic Bar Association, claimed, “Local police are prohibited from enforcing civil violations of immigration law,” adding, “A 1996 law contradicts the law granting authority of local law enforcement.” Referring to a recent court opinion regarding the authority of local law enforcement officers inquiring about a person’s immigration status, Ortega said, “We don’t know if it’s a secret opinion.

All of that adds to the confusion of those who came before me in thinking local law enforcement may enforce immigration law. It’s not all that clear to me.” Ortega blames “the federal government’s total lack of responsibility to come up with meaningful immigration reform. What we need is comprehensive immigration reform. We can’t let emotion get in the way.” He said, “I don’t want to be subject to a different set of laws. I don’t want to be racially profiled any more … it’s a violation of my civil rights because I look different.” Former Chandler Police Department Chief Bobby Joe Harris stated, “Illegal immigration is sponsoring criminal enterprises by purchasing illegal social security numbers. There’s most likely someone out there who is the victim of identity theft.” Even though law enforcement officers come into contact with illegal immigrants of all races during the normal course of their duties, Harris said barriers and common excuses for not en forcing the law, include, “We don’t have the resources,” or “It’s not my job,” as well as fear of being charged with racism and violations of civil rights lawsuits.“The attitude is it’s the federal government’s job,” said Harris, “We should all be working together. Mr. Ortega has concerns and those concerns need to be addressed.

“I’m retired, so I can get up here and speak,” said Harris, who believes politicians need to make a clear and concise statement that law enforcement officials may enforce the law.

“Immigration crime should be enforced just like any other laws. The excuse – If we enforced immigration laws, people won’t come forward and report crime. I don’t think that’s true. I support law enforcement in daily routines. We should be enforcing all the laws. By raising the stakes, you increase the chances of illegal immigrants being caught.” Robb asked both Kobach and Ortega, “What authority does law enforcement have without delegation and what does it have with delegation?” with the caveat that neither mention any court cases.Kobach said police officers may ask a person their immigration status, citing “287 G, Subsection 10,” and said it does not contradict other immigration laws, as Ortega suggested.Ortega said, “I don’t have any question it can be done.

But if there’s no question, why isn’t it being done?” Ortega continued, “I agree if there’s an arrest, but I don’t if there’s no arrest.” Kobach pointed out there is no distinction in local law between criminal and civil infractions and said, “An officer during a traffic stop may have an indicator requesting they contact ICE.

Officers who comply may unknowingly be violating their sanctuary policy.” When asked if he had an objection, if during a routine traffic stop, the data base made such a request, Ortega responded, “If it’s based on a data base and not the color of his skin.” Pearce said, “It’s sad that we have to pass laws that tell us it’s OK to enforce the law.We need to erase those sanctuary policies.

We need to enforce the law.

“In the course of their duties, they need to ask and they need to act. This is based on reasonable suspicion.” Kobach pointed out, “Since MS13 arrived the murder rate has skyrocketed by 39 percent.” When Robb asked Ortega, “What if there’s undeniable probable cause?” Ortega responded, “What do you call undeniable probable cause? They can’t identify undeniable probable cause except by the color of their skin.” Robb then asked, “So, is it your opinion the federal government is only able to be entrusted with enforcing immigration law?” Ortega said, “Local law enforcement shouldn’t get involved.” Pearce pointed to the costs associated with illegal immigration and said, “We can’t afford to not enforce the law compared to the cost of the damage caused to America.”

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Robosquirrel said...

Indicating non-enforcement creates a lure, Pearce said, “If you’re not going to enforce your laws and then reward me with jobs, free health care, free education…”

So where does the compassion in compassionate enforcement come in? Do we give them Pez? Fluffy pillows? I don't get it. How about we build BIG DAMN FENCE (BDF) and ship them right back across the border?

The_Bos'un said...

Robosquirrel, I do not get it either. There is a disconnect with many local law enforcement across the country. We an build a fence, and, I think we should. However, they will find another way in. Our borders with Canada and Mexico are vast, and then our eastern and western seaboards are vast, not to mention or air space. This conference had discussed many of the problems, and there are solutions too. You can visit the Sonoran News, they are on the front lines, so to speak.