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December 5, 2008

The Right Track on Illegals

Joe Charlebois

On November 25, CASA de Maryland, the prominent immigrant rights group in the state, filed suit against the Frederick County Sheriff's Office to obtain information regarding the execution of the 287(g) program. This program effectively allows state and local governments to act in a seamless fashion in regards to those detained for violations of immigration law.


Detainees have come from crimes as simple as traffic stops (where the detainee has no license) to the more concerning, felonious activity.


This partnership is authorized by the Clinton administration's Immigration and Nationality Act of 1996. It allows law enforcement to combat foreign criminals and immigration violators who pose a threat to national security or public safety.


A great number of the detainees have not been violent criminals. What is of great concern is the fact that 15 of those detained have subsequently been charged with felonies. These are statistics from CASA de Maryland.


Since a high percentage of those found to be in the United States as illegal immigrants list their home as Central and South America, Gustavo Torres, the executive director of CASA is concerned that local officials are profiling the Hispanic community in Frederick, County.


Mr. Torres is troubled about violations of the constitutional rights of "residents" of Frederick County. Please note, Mr. Torres did not state that there were citizens of Frederick County being deprived their rights, they are only "residents." If Mr. Torres is aware of the United States Constitution, he may have noticed that nowhere does it recognize illegal residents as citizens of the United States, nor does it confer the rights of citizenship on them.


I suppose a majority of Americans believe, as I do, that the vast majority of illegal immigrants have come to this country to make a good living and provide for their families here and abroad. Indeed the United States has a history of inviting migrant workers from Mexico to work the fields of the southwest over different periods of time over the last 160 years.


The Mexican migrant workers were encouraged to work the fields especially in times of national need, such as World War II. There is a great deal of thanks owed to the generations of workers who came to this country and toiled under difficult conditions, racism, and squalid living conditions when it was needed and sought.


In the mid-1960s the United States ended its policy of contracted immigrant labor, and ever since, Mexican (and other) nationals have been considered to be residing here illegally. That may seem like a strange way to thank a group of people that provided the type of support that they provided during times like World War II, but the need for a labor force of this magnitude was no longer needed.


The men and women of today who illegally cross the border of the United States may carry the best of intentions. They, like we, dream of making a better life for their family. However, they are still here illegally.


We may never know if anyone detained under the 287(g) program in Frederick County has been found to harbor terrorist plans. Please remember this plan is designed to allow interaction between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement when foreign born criminals and immigration violators are found through the course of daily duties.


The benefit of having state and local law enforcement trained and functioning under the supervision of ICE officers is that terrorism and criminal activity are best handled on a multi-level, multi-agency cooperative approach. Local law enforcement will be the likely first responder to any attack in the United States. It only makes sense to have this type of partnership.


Previously, state and local police would often release someone of interest to Homeland Security unknowingly. Now the agencies can work toward a common goal when necessary. This is akin to the cooperation between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) since "the wall" has been dismantled in regards to communication between the two agency's anti-terrorism teams.


There are hundreds of cities in the United States where local law enforcement has turned a "blind-eye" when it comes to those found to be in the United States illegally. These sanctuary cities – such as Baltimore and Takoma Park – will not detain individuals who are here illegally. With the United States attempting to protect itself from another 9/11-style attack, wouldn't it behoove those in law enforcement to detain foreign nationals and turn them over to ICE?


If a criminal entity, such as a gang, terrorist cell or other threat to society, were here in the United States, where will they hide?


Cities that promote sanctuary status are promoting the fact that they will not look into the history of criminals within their jurisdiction. This allows infiltration of criminal activity from gangs like MS13 into these communities.


To expand on this point, if a foreign national or group of foreign nationals somehow breech our borders, decide to remain underground, want to be free from being arrested or deported, they will choose to live in a sanctuary city where they know the pertinent questions will not be asked – particularly their legal status in the United States.


Chuck Jenkins, Frederick County's sheriff has followed the prescribed requirements in instituting this program. He has turned over the information that CASA de Maryland asked for last spring. Now CASA is requesting that the citizens of Frederick pay thousands of tax dollars in administrative costs for additional information regarding the arrests of individuals associated with the 287(g) program.


CASA de Maryland has picked a fight that is off base. They have received all the information that the sheriff's office was legally allowed to give. This request is nothing but an attempt to portray Sheriff Jenkins and the county sheriff's office as something other than honorable.


They couldn't be more wrong.


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