By Joe Guzzardi
May 20, 2015
Buried within the framework of President Obama’s Department of Justice Task Force on 21st Century Policing report, released earlier this week, is the recommendation that the federal government should no longer enlist state and local police’s assistance in immigration enforcement.
While the majority of the report centered on discontinuing providing heavy weapons and artillery to local law enforcement, it also included suggestions on how to repair the rapport between communities and police officers. Immigrants, worried about the possibility of deportation, allegedly fear local law enforcement. Accordingly, Obama wants to “decouple” the relationship between Immigration Customs and Enforcement and police departments nationwide.
According to the official task force statement: “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security should terminate the use of the state and local criminal justice system, including through detention, notification, and transfer requests, to enforce civil immigration laws against civil and non-serious criminal offenders.”
If such “decoupling” measures are carried out, the report claims that trust would be rebuilt between police and immigrant enclaves. But, first, the report overlooks the vital security functions performed when police and ICE work in concert. And second, although immigration advocates have long argued that immigrants are reluctant to report crimes they are witness to or victims of because they fear that they could be targeted for deportation, government and non-partisan studies prove those concerns baseless. Third, advocates worry that racial profiling is rampant in 287 (g) and Secure Communities, an unfounded charge.
Partially to appease immigration rights advocates and partially because of his personal ideology, Obama has slowly but determinedly dismantled proven, effective enforcement programs, namely 287 (g) and Secure Communities, since he took office. Local law enforcement’s involvement were vital to those programs’ successes.
However, in 2011, Obama advised the states that aliens arrested for “minor offenses” would be given prosecutorial discretion, in other words rewarded with catch-and-release. Then, in 2012, Obama ended all agreements with participating 287 (g) states and municipalities. Last year, ICE discontinued Secure Communities which worked with local authorities to deport jailed aliens, and plans to replace it with the untested the Priority Enforcement Program.
As for Obama’s task force claim that enforcement has a chilling effect on immigrants, the General Accounting Office investigated those contentions and found that activists, not immigrants, advanced that theory.
The GAO wrote that cities participating in enforcement programs reported beneficial results: reduced crime and increased removal of repeat immigrant offenders. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General confirmed the GAO’s conclusion as did the Migratory Policy Institute which emphasized that its independent research uncovered no enforcement agency’s abuse of power, no racial profiling and no decreased crime reporting from immigrants. In fact, the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics discovered that when immigrants don’t report crimes, the likely cause is limited English or cultural variables, not fear of the police.
Assuming the task force recommendations are adopted, illegal immigrants will face no consequences for their unlawful actions. If aliens truly want to stay out of trouble with the law, the best course of action is not to commit a crime.
Removing police from the immigration enforcement equation is a grave error and would be the finishing touch on the White House’s commitment to non-enforcement that puts Americans at risk, but is consistent with the administration’s agenda of prioritizing illegal immigrants over citizens.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]