Sanctuary States Defy Federal Immigration Laws

Friday, 20 May 2011 10:02 AM

By James Walsh

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Immigrant advocates and some Democratic officeholders are worsening the nation’s current immigration chaos by pitting the unconstitutional sanctuary movement against federal immigration laws and a federal initiative known as the Secure Communities Program (SCP).

Introduced as a pilot program in March 2008 by the George W. Bush administration, the SCP is administered by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) section of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS worked with the FBI to design the program as a tool to improve public safety by transforming the way that criminal aliens are identified and deported.

SCP requires that, at the time of arrest and booking, all persons are to be fingerprinted and all prints forwarded for comparison against the FBI database, known as the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and the ICE database, IDENT. To date, the program has protected citizens from thousands of criminal aliens.

By October 2010, states and local governments with large Hispanic and/or “blue” (heavily Democrat) populations, such as California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, were attempting to opt out or to permit local communities to do so.

In November 2010, Governor Pat Quinn, D-Ill., sought to make Illinois the first state to suspend the SCP, and now he advocates complete withdrawal. Will Illinois prevail over federal law, especially since DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s declaration that the Secure Communities Program is no longer a pilot initiative but a mandatory one?

Sanctuary states and communities are defying U.S. immigration laws. Immigration is uniquely a federal responsibility. This is the argument being used against state immigration laws, such as those recently passed by Arizona, Utah, and Georgia. Federal immigration laws, however, have long allowed delegation of law enforcement authority to local police.

For example, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA)—the foundation of modern immigration laws—contains section 287g that addresses delegation of authority to state and local law enforcement officers. In addition, the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) contains section 133c that permits the federal government to enter upon agreements with local police delegating immigration enforcement powers.

The 287g programs are under attack by immigrant rights groups, who allege that such programs cause local police to make mistakes and arrest the wrong people, resulting in racial profiling and discrimination. They argue that 287g programs are too costly for local governments because of the required training for law officers and the processing, detaining, and transporting of arrested persons. Lastly, critics claim that 287g programs result in a lack of cooperation between the immigrant community and the police.

These same arguments are being raised by illegal alien advocates against the SCP. By October 2010, the Secure Communities Program was in effect in 686 jurisdictions in 33 states, and 343,829 detainers had been placed on the prison records of criminal aliens to assure federal notification prior to their release.

By March 2011, some 1,200 state, county, and local jails and prisons were taking part. The FBI and DHS are working to have all 50 states participating in SCP by 2013.

A number of Democrat officeholders, immigration activists, especially Hispanics, and radical liberal groups oppose any effort to detain and deport criminal aliens as a violation of a prisoner’s civil rights and Constitutional safeguards. Some say that SCP is “racist” because it discriminates against minorities and targets persons with minor violations for deportation.

Maryland’s Montgomery County, located in the Metro Washington, D.C. area, has attempted an opt-out but recently was blocked by the Obama administration.

Most of Maryland, however, continues to be a sanctuary for illegal aliens and a haven for international drug cartels.

City of San Francisco officials say that by June 1, 2011, a new policy will be in place to ignore the Secure Communities Program and uphold a sanctuary policy that creates a refuge for illegal aliens. The city says its policy trumps federal immigration laws.

Will the Obama administration sue San Francisco, as it did Arizona? Or will Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) persuade the Obama administration not to sue San Francisco, even with the SCP now mandatory nationwide?

Jazmin Segura of the Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network, states that “Secure Communities is a dangerous program that increases collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE. The collaboration, which makes immigrants reluctant to trust local authorities, can critically undermine the health and well-being of all residents.”

On the law enforcement side, the response to the SCP is positive. For instance, Sheriff Stan Barry of Fairfax County, Va., has stated, “The program works very well for us. It allows us to identify illegal aliens in the community who have committed crimes, without spending any Fairfax County taxpayer money.” Sheriff Barry is not alone.
The most vocal critics of the Secure Communities Program are immigration advocates and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

How will President Barack Obama face this immigration insurrection? How far is he willing to go to secure America’s communities?

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