Monday's Washington Post published this editorial:
Police on the Spot
In the absence of a workable immigration system, state and local officers are forced into a quandary.
Monday, June 25, 2007; A18
DESPITE THE objections of police chiefs all over the country, officers at the state, city and county levels are increasingly being drawn into what should be the federal government's responsibility to deal with illegal immigrants. In some instances officers are compelled to arrest undocumented immigrants a fter routine traffic infractions if a computer shows that they are facing outstanding federal warrants. In this way local police are being made complicit in federal deportations, which subverts their attempts to establish ties and cooperative relations with immigrant communities. Hence the police chiefs' objections.
This is a potentially serious problem. Violent gangs have gained a dangerous foothold in many immigrant communities, including some in the Washington area. To contain them, police need informers and other kinds of help in those neighborhoods. But what immigrant informer will come forward if he knows that as soon as police enter his name into a database, they will be compelled to arrest him because he failed to appear at a hearing on his immigration status or a deportation proceeding some years ago?
A handful of police departments have refused to enforce the federal warrants, which include about 250,000 from the Immigration and Custo ms Enforcement agency. Most departments, including those in this region, are enforcing them, albeit unenthusiastically in some cases. Lawsuits have been brought challenging the inclusion of the warrants, which are for civil violations, in a national criminal database.
All of this is symptomatic of the underlying sickness, which is the nation's failure to devise a workable immigration policy and the resulting problem of 12 million illegal immigrants. The tensions between federal and local law enforcement will only worsen until lawmakers in Washington figure a way out of the impasse -- one that recognizes the reality that most of those immigrants are an integral part of the U.S. economy and are here to stay. As the Senate prepares to take up its immigration bill for the second time in a month, it should be mindful of how tenuous the status quo has become.----------------------------------------------------------
I posted the following response:
Once more, Beltway insiders—and that includes the Washington Post editorial board, Congress, and King George—are touting a clever plan to outsource your generosity to the border states. You won’t pay the price for this generosity. We Californians and Arizonans and New Mexicans and Texans will. How convenient. All the self-satisfaction of good-heartedness, with none of the messy consequences. Woo hoo.
Well, here’s a little reality check. You all proposed the same thing in 1986—“comprehensive immigration reform” combining amnesty for those already here and enforcement to make sure there’d be no repeats. Only it turned out to be real amnesty and fake enforcement. So instead of 3 million and no more, now there are 12 million “and no more.” That extrapolates to next time facing 48 million “and no more.” Do you really think we’re that stupid? Do you have any idea of the impact of dozens of millions of non-English-speaking unskilled workers on the economy of the border states? The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that on balance these workers will put more into the economy than they take out of it…300 years from now.
And the so-called “reform” of 1986 turned out to be yet another unfunded mandate. We border state taxpayers got to foot the bill for their huge social costs, while their productivity swelled corporate coffers and went to their home villages south of the border. And the bosses have used their presence to bust unions and drive down wages for the working poor.
But not only are none of you Beltway insiders here—few of you have any first-hand experience of the world of the warehouse worker, the Walmart clerk, the American field hand. Their real wages have gone down substantially since 1986, and much of that is due to your generosity towards foreigners. And why not? Those unskilled Americans have dirt under their fingernails, for goodness’ sake. They wouldn’t know Bach from a box cutter. They watch American Idol non-ironically. Who wouldn’t disdain their misery in their trailer park homes?
You say how unfair it is that cops are being forced to do the Feds’ dirty work. Certainly it interferes with community relations. But your alternative—“Come on down!” is even worse. The choice is between bad and horrible.
And you say we have to recognize “the reality that most of those immigrants are an integral part of the U.S. economy and are here to stay.” Oh really? You act as if we sent busses down to Mexico, Guatemala etc. and kidnapped families off the street and brought them here. In fact they left home because they thought opportunities were better here than under the kleptocracies that pretend to be governments in Latin America. They will return if they come to think the reverse. And we have a way to make them think that.
We can now implement a universal biometric ID database—which one presidential candidate has endorsed, BTW. It could erect a virtual border throughout America. New biometric technologies include a palm vein reader, for example. Hold your hand over a pad for a moment and it reads your palm. You can fool it only if you can rearrange the veins inside your hand. It doesn’t cost a lot. We could put one in every outlet for social services and every corporate HR office. If employers can’t get away with employing illegals, many will go back—and, hopefully, start long-overdue revolutions in their home countries.
While we’re at it, why do you act as if they dropped out of the sky? Every one of them is a citizen of a country. Why don’t you ever talk about that? Mexico is only number 53 on the UN’s poverty index. It’s not a poor country. It just has a poor government. Agitate for reform there for once.
As for the current bill in Congress….tell you what. We’ll be glad to talk about amnesty for the 12 million here the moment the feds turn the flood of illegals into a trickle. You can use universal bio ID, fences, UAVs, National Guard on the border, vigorous prosecution of large employers of illegals, you name it. We’re not fussy.
We agree that “comprehensive immigration reform” seems better than “enforcement first.” But, see, you’ve taught us to not believe you. Last time you broke your word. Why do you expect us to think you won’t do it again? Especially since you all act as if the 1986 amnesty sans enforcement never happened. As if this is the only time we’ve faced a horde of illegals across the border states.
And another BTW: “we” aren’t just the cranky old white guys who listen to right-wing radio, like you think we are. If you analyze California voting records for several anti-illegal immigrant initiatives over the last decade, you’ll find that “we” includes a quarter of all citizens of Latino ancestry and as much as 40% of registered Democrats.
What we aren’t is Charley Brown--though you are Lucy. We aren’t holding the ball for you this time. To quote The Who: “We don’t get fooled again.”