Monday, May 14, 2007
Let's settle this here and now - it's not JUST the job of the Federal government to enforce immigration laws!
Read this article written by Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch:
By Tom Fitton - While illegal aliens continue to flood across the border, bringing with them all manner of social problems, including violent crime, some local law enforcement agencies have chosen to aggravate the situation by instituting so-called “sanctuary policies.” These unlawful policies prevent local police officers from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status or even cooperating with federal immigration officials.
Proponents of sanctuary policies claim illegal immigration is a federal problem, and that local law enforcement agencies do not have the authority or resources to enforce immigration laws. However, as Judicial Watch recently learned from newly released government documents, both of these claims are patently false.
According to records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the 1996 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) “authorized the Secretary of Homeland Security to enter into a written agreement to delegate the authority of enforcing federal immigration laws to a state or political sub-division of a state.” (Emphasis added.) Moreover, through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), local law enforcement officers can receive immigration enforcement training – called 287(g) cross designation training. The cost for the five-week program is a very reasonable $520 per officer.
Now for the important question: Does the program work?
As of June 2006, 136 officers received 287(g) training from four states, including, Alabama, Arizona, California and Florida. (If your state isn’t one of these four, you may want to ask your local elected and police officials about it.) These officers have accounted for 820 immigration-related arrests since the program began in 2002. And while many of the arrests relate to fraudulent documents, others involve rape, drug possession, firearm possession, driving under the influence, and burglary.
There is no question the federal government has a responsibility to secure our nation’s borders. And there is no question the federal government must do a better job of it. But when the system breaks down, local law enforcement cannot abandon their sworn duty to “protect and serve” the American people. As these documents show, local communities that sincerely want to enforce immigration laws can do so legally and cost effectively.
Judicial Watch Opposes the LAPD’s Special Order 40 in New Court Filing
Speaking of sanctuary policies, Judicial Watch continues to fight its legal battle on behalf of taxpayers against the LAPD’s version, “Special Order 40.” On July 14, Judicial Watch filed a legal memorandum with the California Superior Court. A court hearing is scheduled for July 27.
JW’s memorandum was filed in response to the defendants’ “demurrer,” which would effectively dismiss the lawsuit. It makes three key arguments against the LAPD’s sanctuary policy for illegal immigrants:
1. Special Order 40 Violates Federal Law: In 1996, Congress enacted legislation which states, “…a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now Immigration and Customs Enforcement) information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”
The LAPD has adopted what is in effect a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy with respect to immigration status. Special Order 40 restricts the free flow of information between police officers and immigration officials and is, therefore, a violation of federal immigration law.
2. Special Order 40 is Preempted by Federal Law: The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that “the power to regulate immigration is unquestionably exclusively a federal power.” According to the Court, “…the states can neither add to nor take from the conditions lawfully imposed by Congress upon admission, naturalization, and residence of aliens in the United States…” In other words, in cases where federal law and state law conflict, federal law takes precedence.
3. Special Order 40 Violates California Law: California law mandates that Los Angeles police officers enforce immigration laws and work with federal immigration officials. "Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (now Immigration and Customs Enforcement) regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws." Obviously, Special Order 40 expressly prohibits police officers from fully cooperating with immigration officials and is therefore in violation of state law.
Next week I hope to be able to give you an update from the hearing. Stay tuned…
Tom Fitton is the President of Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.