Saturday, September 26, 2009

Local Cops Enforce Immigration Laws

A controversial illegal immigration program has been expanded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The program, referred to as Section 287(g) allows local law enforcement officers to be trained by and work with federal immigration nforecement agencies. The aim is to enable local agencies to assist with the capture and removal of criminal illegal aliens.

Critics of 287(g), which has been in existence since 1996, hoped the Obama administration would end the program. Pro-immigrant and civil rights organizations have been outraged at the support for 287(g). However, DHS and the administration should be commended for supporting a program that helps maintain the rule of law and removes illegal criminals from America’s towns.

The critics’ main argument, as reported by The Economist, is that 287(g) weakens already strained relationships between immigrant communities and law enforcement. The Economist states, “Crime victims and witnesses are likely to be reluctant to come forward if they fear that they may be deported for their pains.” This relatively weak argument can be extended to claim that enforcement of any law can lead to weakened communication between criminals and law enforcement. While it is sometimes advisable for police officers to give petty criminals, such as minor drug dealers, a break in order to obtain information about more heinous crimes, no one supports blanket disregard for law enforcement to facilitate open communication channels. At their extreme conclusion, such arguments utterly prevent any form of law enforcement.

Policies, such as 287(g), may push illegal aliens further “underground”; however, this will only help to create disincentives for future immigrants to choose to migrate illegally. Likewise, it will make legal methods of immigration more appealing. Both of these effects are end-goals that America’s immigration policy should strive to achieve. After all, there is no reason to support policies that make illegal immigrants comfortable living unlawfully in America.

Ultimately, Section 287(g) helps stop illegal activity. As a report by the Heritage Foundation points out, 287(g) fulfills one aspect of a triumvirate of immigration policy goals: “internal enforcement of immigration laws, international cooperation, and border security.” By reducing the burden on federal agents, it creates efficiencies that limit tax dollar waste and facilitates the maintenance of law and order. While the original intent of the program may have been to enforce actions against major criminals, it is acceptable that the program has also been used to nab petty illegal immigrants. Residing in this country illegally is, despite pro-immigrant group’s claims, illegal.

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