We are inspiring a nation. That’s a key take-away from a recent Cal Thomas op-ed that appeared in today’s Orlando Sentinel, which praises Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell for his actions to identify and deport over 170 criminal alien sex offenders that either had been released from prison and placed on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry, or under current state policy scheduled to do so. Thomas references two jurisdictions which helped get the ball rolling on crackdowns against criminal alien offenders, and they are Manassas, and Prince William County.
Cal Thomas isn’t a local guy, so he’s picking all this up from what has been reported in the newspapers so he’s missing a few elements in his timeline here. He missed, for example, that the Prince William County Adult Detention Center actually started implementing the Section 287(g) Program last summer, and has already identified and processed for deportation hundreds of criminal alien offenders. That’s OK. But he’s right in suggesting that what happened in Prince William County and Manassas has helped raise the profile of this issue, get it to the attention of Bob McDonnell, and his action to address this is now going to inspire discussions across the nation about the wisdom of releasing convicted sex offenders back into our communities that have no legal right to reside in the United States. Just as localities across the nation started discussing what they could do to combat the effects of the unlawful presence of illegal aliens after this summer’s adoption by Prince William County of the Rule of Law Resolution, now states and localities are talking about criminal alien sex offenders and the Section 287(g) Program.
So who raised this issue about criminal alien sex offenders in the first place? Help Save Manassas. Legislative Director Maureen Wood noticed a potentially troubling pattern in the Virginia Sex Offender Registry, and Help Save Manassas started making inquiries about what was being done to ensure that these convicted criminals were being screened. The answer came back that there was no systematic screening process for these criminals, and nothing was in place to identify illegal aliens among this population of convicted criminals. Help Save Manassas started raising this issue before elected bodies last summer, and I’ve been talking about it on this website for some time now. It’s quite possible that the Attorney General independently figured out there was a problem here and didn’t pick the idea up from Help Save Manassas, but if he did get a hint from elsewhere about this disturbing problem, the only people raising this issue before McDonnell’s announcement last week was Help Save Manassas, and more recently the umbrella organization it is a member of, Save The Old Dominion.
That’s the intent of this “bottom-up” activist model. Build success at the local level, and raise issues that will get traction at the state and federal levels. Inspire other localities to replicate your success, and build coalitions of local organizations that can effect policy reforms at the state level. It seems to be working.
There is no right to come to America, but there is an obligation to obey the same laws everyone else has to obey or suffer the consequences. Virginia and at least two of its jurisdictions are onto something. Other states and localities might wish to consider a similar approach.
The federal government seems to be getting the message. Perhaps shamed by Virginia, immigration officials, according to the Washington Post, are now actively “scouring jails and courts nationwide” to identify immigrants who qualify for deportation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reports that in a 12-month period ending last Sept. 30, “it placed 164,000 criminals in deportation proceedings,” an increase from the 64,000 the agency identified and placed in deportation proceedings the previous year. ICE “estimates the number will rise to 200,000 this year.”
All it seems to take to get things moving are some solid policy arguments, and people who are willing to help promote them. With some more policy warriors out there, we might even be able to get this moving a bit faster, since turning this ship around seems to require an extraordinary effort and time we really don’t have to spare. We really should have had this problem resolved ten years ago, and we really don’t have ten more years to fix this.
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