Selective Law Enforcement in the Face of Illegal Immigration Woes?

By Stephen Owsinski

Every law enforcement officer has heard and lived the term “officer’s discretion.” Indeed, it is within every cop’s purview to let someone go with a warning, usually after reasoning a very minor infraction. But letting someone off easy is quite different than not enforcing laws due to purported resource allocations (or lack thereof). Who wields the measuring stick while citizens call for help?

Our ongoing illegal immigration crisis is a perfect example drawing the ire of proponents of immigration enforcement whose local police department or sheriff’s office seem to not want to play nice with federal ICE agents. Well, at least one writer will have you buy into the notion.

I came across an article written by an unidentified author whose message seemed to imply that non-federal law enforcement agencies’ lack of resources disables them from aiding ICE agents in their respective jurisdictions, equating to a hands-off approach. Frankly, that will infinitely be a poor excuse to let brother/sister LEOs go it alone. So where is the truth?

The article I read conveyed some pretty (petty) antithetical thinking; its entire scope disturbed me. While taken aback, the premise of bow-out policing flooded my mind, compelling me to reminisce the myriad ways my categorically small police department would go above and beyond to ensure any other law enforcement entity got what it requested. And if we didn’t possess a certain technology, mode, method, tool, or specialty, we automatically assumed the get-it-done task of researching an agency that could satisfy the request. No cop should ever receive crickets in response.

Officer safety was/is always paramount over expenses, so command staff endorsed overtime pay so that more officers could be added to the mix of sound policing.

As a police dispatcher and thereafter as a sworn law enforcement officer, the police force with which I served was all too happy to come to any other government agency’s aid when called upon, just like a cousin would do for another cousin.

What you just read is an endemic trait among cop shops, no matter the size. And it is nothing new, either. Thus, I am vexed when I read that some law enforcement entities may be sidestepping federal immigration agents (ICE in particular), preserving their resources for their own objectives. Since when is there an order slip upon which we pick and choose what law to enforce…or what resources we are willing to expend at any given moment? Can you imagine? How does any law enforcement agency tell another one that we are not coming to serve justice/help you stay alive? Has that Thin Blue Line dissolved, taking on an entire new Us v. Them meaning?

Although I do not consider myself a naïve sort, I do know political propagandizing can get in the way of otherwise righteous, noble, courageous cops.

Let’s analyze a few excerpts from the knotted yarn spun in the article to which I referred, so you can at least glean the gist of my contention and decide for yourself.

The anonymous author projected: “While some jurisdictions have offered their support in enforcing ICE initiatives, the cost often comes in the form of lost resources and personnel who have been pulled away to work on ICE projects.” Breaking down that doozy: “ICE initiatives” is nothing more than enforcing the U.S. Constitution, with ICE being merely one department with responsibility to enforce immigration laws. Although it may not be the everyday fulfillment of non-federal cop shops, all law enforcers swore the same oath to uphold the Constitution (both U.S. and respective states’).

Similarly, it is not “ICE projects” but more like empirical problems in which all law enforcers are co-opted to combat thousands of illegal immigrants as a collective effort to maintain the integrity of our nation comprising all its states in which cops work for the common good of citizens: Oath 101. A cop is a cop is a cop…all doing the nation’s bidding.

There’s more fodder to scrutinize: “When a local jurisdiction is enlisted to assist ICE with enforcing immigration law, several facets of everyday operations are taken up. Law enforcement officers may be pulled away to assist with enforcement of warrants and detainment of illegal immigrants. Holding facilities and jails may have space taken up for ICE agents to detain those who are found to be in the country illegally until further action can be taken.” Again, the seemingly casual separation alluded to boggles my mind. Indeed, local cops get pulled away for any number of things on the daily. And it is not like cops/jailers across America are doing favors by detaining illegal immigrants for ICE; they are honoring their oaths by remanding folks trespassing upon American soil, an empirical probable cause principle.

This is nothing new either, so why underscore something like helping ICE arrest/process illegal aliens as a sort of grandiose thing from which we’ll never survive? The notion of hyperbole based on ostensible political pressures comes to mind. It is also not new that the federal government provides massive amounts of funds to jurisdictions all over the American landscape, further deflating the suggestion that local police agencies are defeated if/when ICE comes knocking (wanting assistance, you know…responsibly fulfilling their oaths).

Regularly, we read about this or that jail facility abjectly refusing ICE detainers, liberating illegal immigrants. We also see a propensity of some police/sheriff’s agencies shunning ICE entirely, treating immigration agents like the plague. ICE now populates its website with a registry of “non-cooperative jurisdictions” which have refused aiding ICE in their duties. Naturally, this massive hiccup implies political strings strangling traditional law enforcement practices. Truly sad state of affairs.

Stemming from so-called “sanctuary” cities, counties and states, some illegal aliens released before ICE agents can plausibly assume custody have enjoyed the inexplicable freedom to rape, pillage, maim and/or kill (some not for the first time). Just read about the Steinle family who lost their daughter to a five-time deportee who, upon release by sanctuary San Francisco authorities, took to the streets where he shot/killed Kate Steinle. Conversely, some illegal immigrants commit heinous acts and are deported, only to return to America and become re-arrested for their latest criminal act(s).

Incidentally, a recent infographic denotes how those respective sanctuary states’ population growths have conversely declined—Illinois is actually in the red, at -0.32 percent. I enjoy Florida and its anti-sanctuary legislation. (I wonder where the anonymous author of the article we are analyzing resides.)

I also wonder the ludicrous nature of his/her following words: “…local citizens of these jurisdictions often find themselves losing trust in local police if they work with ICE, which has a surly reputation for murky boundaries and ever-shifting policies.” That was certainly myopic and boldly biased.

Report after report, the “local citizens” referred to here are not necessarily citizens at all…but more like “undocumented” (illegal) immigrants in hiding who naturally want nothing to do with an arrest followed by a one-way trip back to their native-born origin…compliments of the U.S. government. And I’m really stymied by anyone’s assertion of ICE having a surly reputation—all cops have a surly rep; just ask any criminal. I also find it amusing to read that ICE (or any federal agents) having “murky boundaries.” Federal agents employed by/for the United States are responsible for all United States territory, so why the blurred jurisdictional boundaries reference? And “ever-shifting policies”? Just like private sector organizations, all law enforcement agencies experience policy alterations; it is often a matter of mission objectives and progressiveness. What’s wrong with such a thing? How does that somehow sully a government entity’s presence?

Further: “Some cities, operating under sanctuary city laws, have flat-out refused to help ICE in its efforts, [while] others have only offered up assistance in cases of violent or extreme/dangerous crime.” Shame for picking/choosing when to fulfill their oaths. More realistically, it is more like their elected officials using their power to operate a cops-in-a-box program, selectively unloosing police personnel at the whim of the top-seated politician(s).

The analysis continued: “In contrast, other jurisdictions have dedicated the full services of their staff to assist the efforts of ICE.” Thankfully, the U.S. Constitution is wholly embraced and enforced by the latter group of law enforcement institutions which not only satisfy their oaths but also embody our nation’s constitutional principles while also safeguarding those who have rights to reside within our sovereign existence.

We now arrive at some descriptors regarding “resources” and cop shops allegedly withholding same: “Whether it’s low staffing, large areas of territory to cover, or a frequency of higher profile or more threatening crime, often the use of local resources for ICE purposes does more harm than good when it comes to citizen approval.” As I scrutinize that statement, what glaringly stands out is the reference to “ICE purposes.” ICE agents are one of several safeguards to thwart illegal immigration, a crime against our country and thus its citizens. Again, it is entirely logical to assume bona fide citizens support all law enforcement efforts to squash crime in its tracks, no matter who the perpetrators are. Implicitly, naysayers and oppositionists arguing against immigration enforcement are likely illegals or those harboring fugitives doing so out of emotion-filled reasons, not necessarily mindful of statutes. In effect, it’s a blatant betrayal.

Looking at this article/issue critically, let’s wrap up by scoping the following statement made by our unidentified writer: “Particularly in areas where crime is prevalent, focusing on keeping a community safe and crime free should be the utmost priority for law enforcement.” How is that not a contradiction?

Further, “Spreading resources, many of which are already limited, can be damaging for a community and the effects can reach far into the future.” I submit: not trying to combat crime —any crime, to include illegal immigration which also engenders volatile, murderous monsters going by the moniker of MS-13— is exponentially “damaging for a community” and also impacts communities with guaranteed atrocities and tragedies “far into the future” if unabated.

I cannot conceive the Thin Blue Line as nothing more than roughly 18,000 factions disassociated from immigration enforcement agents because of misguided feelings about immigrants and/or some profound frugality among police executives. More likely, it is the non-cooperative nature spearheaded by local politicians concentrated on harboring fugitives from justice? If so, isn’t that bastardizing justice in the name of justice? This type of detrimental elected official must be dethroned.

Is the article we dissected herein nothing more than a veiled allegiance to sanctuary laws in some jurisdictions across the country, using lack of police resources as an excuse? A cop-out, of sorts? Incidentally, if it is accurate that this or that law enforcement agency lacks resources, what does that say about the elected ones presiding over such jurisdictions? Misappropriations? Dereliction? Self-serving?

Let everyone put their money where their mouth is. If the majority anywhere voted for a presidential platform with road-hot traction over an immigration enforcement thrust, it’s fairly logical to expect those constituents will stand tall for their cops enforcing immigration laws in their respective tract of America. Therefore, it is also likely that those voters support local government initiatives to fund public safety well enough to ensure mission objectives never morph into mission impossible. People, good people, tend to get maimed or murdered from the latter. Nothing new there.

Essentially, any costs to any law enforcement agency fulfilling its mission to maintain law and order and suppress crime pays for itself; anyone undertaking illegal conduct is fair game for all jurisdictions, federal, state, county, and municipality.

As resource specialists, all cops took an oath. Fulfill it the best you can with whatever resources are available while adapting accordingly, not losing sight of the goal posts. And don’t stop there: reconsider resources so that any operations, whether partnering with ICE or the neighboring police department, are met with what is necessary to get the job done. On to the next call.

Scapegoating is not the answer. We can not blame tight budgets or low staffing or other shortages on immigration enforcement necessitated by our country’s laws (Supremacy Clause). Any agency’s shortfalls beckon virtues of responsibility and accountability (primarily to the public). Police executives must render stronger arguments for criminal justice funding, and back all requests with fact-based needs supported by data and statistics to circumvent tight-pocketed city or county elected officials.

Let’s sprinkle a little salt on what’s at stake. Florida Department of Corrections (DoC) is gearing to have some of its state corrections officers train at federal law enforcement facilities in order to be officially deputized as ICE agents. The purpose is to ferret out illegal aliens so that detainers/deportations and the like can be carried out. A sanctuary-less state, Florida has joined Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts in efforts to aid ICE agents in the mission to identify, process, and deport those who are here without legal status.

Under the Department of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program, local law enforcement agencies can sign on to have their personnel assist federal immigration officers. Sad that it is not automatic.

As ICE Director Matt Albence said, “The only way a person is subject to an ICE detainer…is if they are handcuffed and arrested for a crime committed in the local community.” So, all cops are valued resources with regards to a nationwide dilemma plaguing our states and victimizing our citizens. We are all in this together!

Heck, we even have citizens (good folks with Second Amendment rights) aiding society by thwarting violent monsters roaming our streets—yes, defending against and killing criminals. Imagine that! The law enforcement institution has been the gatekeeper for quite a while, and that should not necessarily wane because of resource usage or political ideologies harbored by any police executives and/or the politicians who employ them. Objective and impartial, right? Uphold the Constitution, correct?

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