The Obama administration’s announcement that it would unilaterally terminate the Section 287(g) program at the end of this year has plenty of people wondering what impacts this may have, and what can be done to buttress the rule of law that this administration seems so fundamentally disinterested in supporting. The press has done little more than drive-by reporting on what the impacts of this decision would likely be, not has it even mentioned how the upcoming elections could have a dramatic impact on whether this utterly irresponsible decision could be reversed.
So let’s tackle a few questions the press has so far ignored.
What’s the difference between 287(g) and “Secure Communities”?
As part of the process of “booking” a suspect at the intake unit of a local jail, fingerprints are furnished to the FBI to see if there are any outstanding federal warrants on the suspect. The entirety of the”Secure Communities” program is to see if those fingerprints “hit” on the database of persons with records at Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If there’s a “hit,” ICE may decide to place an “immigration detainer” on the individual which would potentially put them in removal proceedings. The ICE database only contains records of persons with whom they’ve previously had contact in an enforcement situation, most of which comes from arrests at the border, previousl deportations, or previous identification through the Section 287(g) program. It’s possible that the database also contains records of persons who have overstayed visas, but since that category doesn’t fit into ICE’s immigration enforcement “priorities” it’s highly unlikely that a “hit” on that bases would result in a detainer being issued.
So in order for someone to fall into the net of “Secure Communities” an illegal alien must have previously been identified as an illegal alien.
The Section 287(g) Program in Prince William County is vastly more diligent. Selected officers are trained and certified by ICE to act as ICE agents under the supervison of federal agents, and in Prince William County’s case that supervision happens right in the Adult Detention Center. ICE-trained officers work with the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force, the PWCPD Criminal Alien Unit, and in the jails. All individuals detained by the police - not just the ones “booked” into jail, are screened for their immigration status in a much more thorough process that not only helps ferret out lying and identity fraud, but against ICE databases where a “no hit” (meaning that a foreign national without any record of being in the country legally) is flagged as an illegal alien. Not only is everyone checked (whereas in “Secure Communities” those released by a magistrate instead of going to jail are not) but the screening process is going to correctly identify many more illegal aliens and actually add records to the “Secure Communities” database. Those identified as illegal aliens will, if their criminal activity rises above a certain threshold, be processed for deportation by local authorities and handed over to ICE for removal proceedings after they have completed their incarceration.
So in order to fall into the net of 287(g) an illegal alien must be arrested by local authorities for a state or local crime regardless of who knew or did not know about them beforehand.
What will happen differently after December 31st?
If this decision is allowed to stand, the number of people even screened for immigration status will drop by about a third, if not more as all those who are released by a magistrate on bond or personal recognizance will not be subjected to a screening. Although Virginia law does not generally permit illegal aliens to be released on bond, that decision will happen before any screening takes place, so unless police discover an outstanding deportation order on an individual or otherwise become aware of an unlawful status, this law will be subverted.
Of those being booked into jail, only those who were previously identified as illegal aliens in ICE databases will risk being placed under an immigration detainer by “Secure Communities.” Any illegal alien who had previously escaped the attention of ICE will not be identified by that program. As such, a significant number of illegal aliens will never be held to account for their unlawful behavior, and some will be emboldened by this perceived weakness to commit even greater crimes in the future. The future victims of these criminal illegal aliens will represent the cost of this bad decision in unbearable human terms.
Who does this affect?
This program termination affects all localities with a 287(g) agreement expiring this year, including the City of Manassas. Six other localities in Virginia that are enrolled in the program may not be on the same timetable, but it is clear that Obama will not renew any of these agreements when they expire.
Why is Obama doing this?
The justification given by the administration is that this would save $17 million in fiscal 2013 and is a cost saving measure. This is despite the administration spending about $1.5 billion handing out free cell phones, another billion or so handing out EITC tax credits to illegal aliens, and even spent $325,000 building a robotic squirrel. This cut isn’t in any congressionally-approved budget as there hasn’t been one passed in three years. Obama’s FY 2013 budget request included this cut, but the administration failed to even garner a single vote in favor of the proposal from his Democrat allies.
What can be done?
Clearly, defeating Obama on November 6th is important to reversing this irresponsible decision.
Perhaps even more important is to wrest control of the US Senate from Harry Reid so that a federal budget could be passed that would restore this cut to the 287(g) Program. As long as Harry Reid and his allies remain in power in the US Senate and sustain the continuing congressional gridlock on the budget, a president can get away with making whatever decisions they want without constitutionally-mandated spending oversight. Defeating Tim Kaine and his Democrat allies is the surest path towards restoring the Section 287(g) Program as it is clear that when this program comes up for votes, it retains broad bipartisan support. Harry Reid’s strategy so far has been to prevent any such votes from happening in order to sustain his and Obama’s extreme open-borders agenda.
Tim Kaine, during his time as Governor vetoed a bill passed by the General Assembly that would have enrolled the Virginia State Police and the Department of Corrections in the Section 287(g) Program. His record on this issue is clear, and if elected would not do anything to restore it. George Allen is on record supporting the Section 287(g) Program and would certainly vote to restore it.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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