An article appearing in the Los Angeles Times this week reports on how Arizona’s legislature have passed new laws that would get local law enforcement involved in the enforcement of the immigration laws. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is expected to sign the bill into law.
This passage caught my eye:
“…police were deeply divided on the matter, with police unions backing it but the state police chief’s association opposing the bill, contending it could erode trust with immigrants who could be potential witnesses.”
The issue here is that the police chiefs association represents the chiefs of police, an organization that has strong political ties, while the unions representing the average “cop on the beat” favor the measures.
About five years ago, I was invited to speak in Boston before the executive board of the International Association of Chief of Police on the issue of border security and the enforcement of the immigration laws. When I arrived, I was surprised to find that a special assistant to then President George W. Bush had also been invited to speak. Her speech preceded mine, and provided the administration’s position of immigration law enforcement. She made much of how wonderful it was to work for the President and how important his efforts were to create a guest worker program form millions of aliens. She also discussed how effective the administration had been in protecting communities around the country by implementing programs such as “Operation Community Shield,” under which some 2,300 violent alien gang members had been arrested and deported from the United States during the previous year by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
When she finished her talk she invited questions from the audience and, as you might expect, I seized the opportunity to address the points she had made during her presentation.
I told her and the audience that I had testified only a few weeks earlier before a Congressional hearing which was called by the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims. The issue was that while Congress had appropriated funding to enable the administration to hire an additional 800 special agents for ICE and 2,000 additional Border Patrol agents for CBP (Customs and Border Protection), the President had slashed those numbers and proposed to only hire an additional 143 new special agents for ICE and just 210 additional Border Patrol agents. I explained that without proper staffing levels there was no way that the government would be the slightest bit capable of properly vetting illegal aliens who had no official documentation to attest to their true identity and to police any such guest worker program. I also told her that I was underwhelmed that in an entire year Operation Community Shield netted 2,300 arrests of violent gang members, noting that more than 2,300 violent gang members could be expected to run our nation’s border on a bad weekend on the border near El Paso or other major smuggling areas. I also said that the number of violent gang members in the United States, according to published reports, pegged the number of such gang members in the hundreds of thousands and that it was believed that a significant percentage of those gang members were illegal aliens. To drive the point home, I rhetorically asked the audience how they would react to a child returning home during Easter Recess from an expensive out-of-town college and boasting about getting a 1 percent on an important exam. “Would you give that child a new Mustang convertible, or a swift kick in the rear end?” I asked. The audience roared and the young lady who was President Bush’s special assistant sat there cringing. The point was that the arrest and removal of 2,300 gang members was certainly better than nothing, but only slightly better than nothing. It represented far less than one percent of all alien gang members believed to be present in the United States.
I also emphasized that ICE had concocted to great sounding names for field operations to provide the illusion of effectiveness, and that the names some of these operations were given created the illusion that the administration had all but dug up Gen. Patton, breathed life back into him and had him lead the charge. Unfortunately nearly every one of ICE’s field operations were simply illusions, designed to quell the fears of citizens across our nation.
In addition, I took issue with her assertion that a guest worker program from millions of illegal aliens would enable those aliens who simply wanted to work to do the jobs Americans won’t do (an utter lie) and enable law enforcement to focus on terrorists and criminals (more baloney). I told the audience that the day before a terrorist participates in a terrorist operation he is likely to go to his job where he has been hiding in plain sight for the past year or two, awaiting the phone call, e-mail or tap on the shoulder telling him that his “services” would be needed to assist in an act of terrorism. I then asked if anyone in the audience had ever seen a newspaper account of a terrorist who had been arrested who was not identified by the job he was doing before he was arrested.
I delivered my remarks and was gratified to receive a standing ovation at the conclusion of my presentation. Afterward, many of the police chiefs approached me and quietly told me that they agreed with me entirely but that if they dared to say what I had said, their bosses – the mayors of their towns – would fire them in a “New York second.”
If you want to know what works and what doesn’t work, don’t ask the bosses – ask the field personnel. It is not a surprise to me that the unions that represents the police officers who actually do the job agrees with these new laws in Arizona.
The assertion that the cops won’t be able to get members of the immigrant community to cooperate is a bald faced lie. How do I know? How dare I make such a blatant statement? I speak from experience as a field agent. I spent nearly half of my career working intimately with other law enforcement agencies on the federal, state and local level and even with police agencies of other countries. One of my key responsibilities in working with these other agencies was to use my authority as an INS special agent to convince aliens to become cooperators and informants.
Immigration laws and the potential for rewarding cooperators can, if used properly, provide a very big stick and/or a very big and juicy carrot. This is the principle behind the “S Visa,” which can provide aliens who furnish essential assistance in major investigations with lawful status in our country and that may also be used to enable them to bring family members to the United States in exchange for their cooperation.
In May of 2004, I testified before a hearing titled “Pushing the Border Out on Alien Smuggling: New Tools and Intelligence Initiatives.” One of the key issues at that hearing was the use of the S Visa and funds to provide incentives for aliens to work cooperatively with special agents of ICE and to also provide testimony to seek the successful prosecution of smugglers and other criminals involved in violations of law comprehended under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Additionally, it is absolutely critical that immigration law enforcement be a consistent component of crime fighting where aliens are involved. When a police officer encounters any individual during the course of his official duties, one of the very first tasks he faces is to properly identify the person he has encountered. Clearly the issue of identity is a critical issue.
I have also made the point that when an alien runs our nation’s borders and succeeds in heading for the interior of the United States, he does not magically acquire lawful status by making his way past the border. A burglar who breaks into your house is no less illegally present in your house if he is found in your upstairs bedroom or attic than he would be if you encountered him in the hallway just inside your front door.
The politicians of Arizona who voted for this law and other such laws in the past year are reacting to the void created by the abject lack of leadership in Washington. I am certain that they are angered by the fact that a city in their state, Phoenix, is now has the unwelcome title of “The Kidnap and Home Invasion Capitol of the Western Hemisphere.”
However, if the “usual suspects” get their way and enact a sweeping amnesty law under the aegis of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” then the entire well-intentioned efforts of the leaders of Arizona will be for naught. Every illegal alien will have lawful status.
Clearly the representatives of Arizona, as well as the state’s governor, heard the voices of their constituents. The real problem is that the “leaders” in Washington are apparently deaf.
We need to think about the old cell phone commercial where an employee of a cell phone company wanders around the countryside attempting to make phone calls on his cell phone and asks, as he travels around the country, “Can you hear me now?”
Today the question is, “Can the United States Congress hear us now?”