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Political (In)Correctness vs. Immigration Law By: Bill West
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, May 09, 2005


On February 24, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a press announcement that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD). The memorandum would allow for a select number of correctional deputies to be trained by DHS as Immigration Officers. Following their training, they could, under the supervision of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel, exercise limited immigration law enforcement authority within the Los Angeles County jail system.

The purpose of this six month pilot project was to allow these LASD deputies to identify criminal alien suspects who were making their way through the county criminal justice system. The idea was to better “flag” those criminal aliens for further removal (deportation) processing once they completed their criminal cases. Considering that there are thousands of such criminal aliens within the Los Angeles County system at any given time, many of whom are violent felons, gang members, and who have been previously deported and who could be Federally prosecuted for that offense, the limited pilot project made perfect sense.

 

A similar effort has had demonstrated success in at least two other states. Shortly after the 9-11 attacks, the State of Florida, in conjunction with the Florida District of what was then the INS Investigations Division, established a program called the Domestic Security Task Force. Through the program, 35 State and local law enforcement officers were trained in a six-week course by INS enforcement officials and granted status as Immigration Enforcement Officers. They worked under the direction of INS Supervisory Special Agents assigned throughout the state on domestic security related investigations. Alabama now has a number of State Troopers similarly trained and cross-designated. Contrary to the “doom and gloom” predications of many immigrant advocacy and civil rights groups, these limited programs in Florida and Alabama have been notably successful.

 

And what of the LASD? Last month, an ICE training team from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at Glynco, Georgia was in Los Angeles to provide the training for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department personnel. Unbeknownst to the Feds, Sheriff Lee Baca had apparently invited representatives of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) to sit in on the training, which included sensitive law enforcement and intelligence information related to fraudulent identification and immigration documents.

 

MALDEF is an advocacy organization that favors liberal immigration policies and has historically been critical of strong enforcement of US immigration and nationality laws. Upon learning that such partisan civilians were going to be present during what was supposed to be a closed law enforcement-only training session, the Federal officers closed up shop and went home. It’s not clear, as of this report, how the LASD/DHS pilot project will now progress. One hopes, however, that this is but a temporary setback.

 

The LASD pilot project for their jails was primarily to enhance law enforcement’s ability to identify criminal aliens in the system so more of them could ultimately be deported. Beyond that, the program would have invariably identified potential leads for cases involving alien smuggling organizations, false document vendors and immigration fraud syndicates, making inroads into organized crime groups who prey on the very immigrant communities many advocacy groups such as MALDEF seek to protect. Now, owing to an apparent attempt by LASD management to appease a Latino advocacy group on immigration law enforcement issues, law enforcement that would better protect the larger community has been placed in jeopardy.

 

This is a sad example of how political correctness is sidetracking an otherwise smart move in what is currently an overwhelmed effort in trying to gain control over the nation’s immigration problems, particularly the criminal alien issue. And, it is not a large leap from establishing viable Federal/local operational law enforcement systems in the immigration arena dealing with foreign criminals to expanding those systems to better identify security threats that may involve alien terrorists. The Florida Domestic Security Task Force program proved that. The more the Federal immigration cops work with the local cops on the street, who know their beats and their bad guys, the safer we all will be.

 

Bill West is a retired INS/ICE Supervisory Special Agent who worked organized crime and national security cases for more than 18 years. He is now a counter-terrorism consultant and a freelance writer.     


Bill West is a retired INS/ICE Supervisory Special Agent who ran organized crime and national security investigations. He is now a counter-terrorism consultant and freelance writer.


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