Often a review of the news releases on the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) website can provide important insight into the immigration crisis that confronts the United States. On December 27, 2011 ICE sent out a news release that focused on how they were helping the residents of Dallas, Texas to combat transnational gangs–a problem that is being confronted by many countries around the world.
The news release made note of the fact that members of French law enforcement traveled to the United States to get an “Up close and in person” view of how ICE and local police working together can benefit by the synergy that is created by this multi-agency approach.
I spent roughly half of my 30 year career with the INS working in close cooperation with a diverse conglomeration of law enforcement agencies on the local, state and federal level as well as with foreign law enforcement agencies and can attest to the many ways in which such cooperation among diverse law enforcement agencies can yield important successes in combating transnational criminal organizations, drug smuggling organizations and international terrorist organizations.
It should be obvious that when aliens move across international borders in order to achieve their criminal or terrorist objectives that the federal agency that has primary responsibility to secure borders and enforce immigration laws from within the interior of the United States should have a significant responsibility to participate in investigations that are focuses on such individuals and the criminal or terrorist organizations that they are affiliated with.
Adding the immigration component to the investigation of aliens who are involved in criminal activities provides important benefits to such investigations. There are specific criminal statutes that relate to aliens who violate our borders and our laws. To provide an examples there are specific federal criminal statutes that address aliens who had been previously deported and then reenter the United States without the authority of the government, laws that deem false statements on visa applications or applications for lawful immigrant status and United States citizenship to all be felonies while yet another law deems the possession of a firearm or ammunition by an illegal alien to be a felony. These are crimes that can only be prosecuted when immigration laws are brought to bear.
Additionally, when any criminal suspect is arrested, the first issue is to properly identify that suspect to determine all possible names he (she) has used and to determine if any criminal or administrative warrants are outstanding. Once the suspect is fingerprinted and photographed the next order of business is to bring the defendant before a judge or magistrate to set bail. Bail determinations focus on two major factors, risk of flight and danger to the community. The issue of danger to the community is generally addressed by providing evidence about any force used by the defendant in the commission of a crime and/or any weapons he may have had in his possession. Possession of narcotics may also indicate a danger to the safety of the community. Risk of flight can be a more nebulous issue to address. When the defendant is an illegal alien especially one who had been previously deported and then reentered the United States without authority to do so provides a clear image of an individual who disregards lawful orders issued by appropriate authorities. When a defendant has failed to show up for hearings, for example, deportation hearings and has used numerous false names and has provided law enforcement officers in prior encounters with law enforcement agencies with false or nonexistent addresses, the picture painted becomes even clearer where the issue of risk of flight and the setting of an appropriate and commensurate bail is concerned. This is not a hypothetical issue, as an INS Special Agent, I have provided testimony at many bail hearings and in each case, the evidence I was able to furnish that was gleaned by reviewing the immigration file of an alien defendant in a criminal case resulted in either an extremely high bail being set or in having the federal magistrate or state court judge remanding that defendant without bail because it was clear that the defendant an extreme flight risk.
Incredibly the administration has attempted to tout the successes of such cooperative investigations on the one hand, but then make all sorts of assertions about how community policing suffers when local police officers enforce immigration laws. Simply stated, they cannot have it both ways!
The administration is not alone in attempting to justify not enforcing immigration laws. A number of cities have declared themselves to be “Sanctuary Cities” where police will not seek to determine if criminal suspects are citizens, lawful immigrants or aliens who are illegally present in the United States. In some cases, mayors of some cities, and governors of several states, have made it clear that they will not even honor detainers lodged by ICE when individuals who are being held in city or state jails are to be released, preventing ICE from being able to arrest these aliens whose mere presence in the United States represents a violation of our nation's immigration laws that are intended to protect our nation and our citizens from aliens whose presence in the United States represents a threat to our safety or wellbeing!
There is an extreme lack of resources at ICE and CBP (Customs and Border Protection) to secure our nation's borders and then enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States when aliens violate our nation's borders and violate our nation's immigration laws. The idea that by enforcing immigration laws local police would lose the confidence of the members of the immigrant communities around the country is a false argument. Many members of the various immigrant communities from around the world come to the United States with an abject fear of law enforcement officials because of their experiences with law enforcement in their home countries. In many countries corruption within the ranks of law enforcement agencies is the rule rather than the exception. The lessons that these immigrants learn early in life remain with them long after they immigrate to the United States.
In reviewing the ICE News Release it is important to pay attention to the references made to how the ICE agents work with confidential informants. There can be no better example of community policing than the cultivation of informants and cooperators. When I worked with other law enforcement agencies, whether it was local or state police or other federal agencies, one of my areas of responsibility was to help to cultivate informants. Most law enforcement agencies can only offer individuals who cooperate in ongoing investigations is money or the potential for having criminal charges reduced in cases where an informant is a defendant in an investigation. Special Agents of ICE have the additional capability of providing cooperating aliens with authorization to remain in the United States for a temporary period and be granted employment authorization. In some cases, such alien cooperators can become eligible for permanent residency and even have their immediate family members join them in the United States as lawful immigrants.
The immigration laws can and do provide invaluable opportunities for local police to hammer some of the most pernicious criminals that they are apt to encounter–criminalswho create nightmares for the members of the various ethnic an immigrant communities. When the members of these communities come to realize how effective these police agencies are at removing some of the most violent thugs imaginable from their midst, rather than fear the police, they invariably come to feel indebted to them and consequently become more motivated to cooperate with these police officers.
The cooperation of local and state police with ICE represents community policing at its best!