Dealing With Illegal Immigration - Part One
Recent conversations on illegal immigration, and mechanisms to address this looming crisis, have spawned a number of statements and editorials of late. People are pushing various agendas from taking pity upon those who came into our nation illegally to provide for their family, to rounding up everyone in a fashion similar to the Japanese internment camps of WWII.
While the truth generally lies somewhere in the middle, this is an instance where a tough review and stance is necessary.
As has been pointed out in other articles, (one by Rick Weldon on The Tentacle that was superb in its reasoning) the costs for supporting illegal immigrants are tremendously high. Not only are school and medical costs going through the roof, but expenses due to increased gang activity, a multitude of other criminal activity, and increases in insurance premiums will and has been increasing.
Can we deport all illegal immigrants? The short answer is, of course, yes. Fred L. Koestler, of the Handbook of Texas Online at the University of Texas Austin, recounts a 1954 Immigration and Naturalization (INS) apprehension of about 80,000 illegal immigrants. The precise numbers from this operation vary greatly and "local INS officials claimed that an additional 500,000 to 700,000 had fled to Mexico before the campaign began."
Hence, we have historic events we can seize upon to justify such an action (precedent is tremendously important in the legal arena). Whether the operation was handled correctly or not is another conversation altogether.
In reality, the likelihood of such a large scale action is doubtful. Organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others have been very successful in deterring any momentum on this front. And as we have seen recently, our Congress seems both out of touch and impotent to handle this crisis.
Therefore, any sweeping reform from our federal government is highly dubious. Since authority for immigration policy remains the purview of the federal government, enforcement of even existing laws relies upon either a concerted effort, led by federal officials, or some type of delegated authority. The good news is that such delegated authority does exist and can be implemented as soon as all the t's get crossed and i's dotted.
Another recent argument against local enforcement of illegal immigration laws is the effects this could have on the relationship between the beat officer and communities of illegal immigrants. Our law enforcement agencies have spent years researching and altering their methods of contact with the local communities. These new practices have shown great results and built new relationships of trust. It is the latter connection, one built upon trust, which has generated many of the most positive results.
Trust is a two-way street. To call for our law enforcement officers to neglect certain legislation, (immigration status) to improve some feeble idea of a closer relationship with a community that has already broken our laws is antithetical.
Our law enforcement officials are sanctioned to enforce laws as they build upon each other. Neglecting a set of rules and regulations is similar to building a pyramid and then pulling out the base. The entire structure will fall; the results of which we are facing today. Millions of illegal immigrants in our nation are emptying our social services net, harming our economy, and causing increases in crimes to name a few.
To understand and make an argument on whether the authority for deportation lies solely in the hands of the federal versus the state government is not the aim here. Numerous precedents and regulations exist to bolster the claim that this authority rests only with the federal government.
In 1978 the U.S. Department of Justice stated that "local police should refrain from detaining any person not suspected of a crime, solely on the ground that they may be deportable aliens." Other court rulings also give weight to the notion that only the federal government has authority on immigration: "The power to regulate immigration is unquestionably exclusively a federal power." DeCanas v. Bic, 424 U.S. 351, 354 (1976).
On the other hand, while the U.S. Constitution does explicitly grant the federal government the power to make war, establish a postal office, receive ambassadors, make treaties, etc., there is no specific enumeration on immigration or its enforcement authority dictated within the Constitution. Often, the Supremacy Clause, (Article VI, clause 2) is noted to indicate that federal law trumps all state or local law. Hence, if Congress does make a law regarding immigration, it supersedes any existing state authority.
Article IV, Section 4 of our Constitution states: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence."
If one considers this onslaught of illegal populations an invasion, then the argument can be made that our federal government has repudiated its obligation. Therefore, authority over immigration gravitates back to the states.
Whichever side one may take, a sweeping mechanism to deal with this looming crisis will not soon appear. Amnesty is not the answer and a large scale deportation is just as unlikely. But, hope does spring eternal.
Local enforcement of criminal laws against illegal aliens is available via existing law. In 1996, under the previous administration, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Within this law are methods for local law enforcement to both receive delegated authority and resources.
Although it has taken Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins many months to obtain such delegated authority and resources, he has spent the time wisely and will be pursuing these methods.
Final sign off has yet to take place, but Sheriff Jenkins is now confident that Frederick County will be able to have the benefit of officers keeping our community safe against those illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes and need to be incarcerated and, if applicable, inevitably deported.
In tomorrow's column, the specifics of this process will be outlined.