Sheriffs choose DIY immigration enforcement after ICE says no to SC

( – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

Last week Sheriffs McDonald (Plymouth), Hodgson (Bristol) and Evangelidis (Worcester) traveled to Washington to try to persuade ICE to activate the Secure Communities program here, as they keep promising to do.  ICE again refused (why is anybody’s guess), but offered the sheriffs an even better alternative:  287(g).  

Secure Communities is based on automated electronic fingerprint sharing of all those arrested by local officers.  Despite what Gov. Patrick says, it is not now occurring anywhere in the state other than Boston.  SC does a very good job at flagging criminal aliens so ICE can take action, if it chooses.  It has resulted in the deportation of hundreds of criminal aliens and serial immigration violators from the streets of Boston in the last several years.

But 287(g) works even better.  This is the program that Mitt Romney joined for MCI and the state troopers.  Under this partnership, ICE provides designated local officers with advanced training in immigration law and enforcement practices and gives them direct access to ICE databases so that they can perform the functions of federal immigration agents according to priorities set by the locals.

Deval Patrick cancelled the agreement for the troopers as one of his first acts in office, and has let the MCI agreement lapse (even though now he makes it sound as if he’s been enthusiastically doing this all along).

If there is any ICE program the open borders groups hate more than Secure Communities, it’s 287(g).  How ironic, then, that the result of their hysterical campaign to derail Secure Communities in Massachusetts is the announcement that our sheriffs can implement 287(g) — instead of an immigration law enforcement Chevy, these counties are getting a Cadillac.  

287(g) is less of a catch and release program than Secure Communities.  Internal ICE statistics show that 86 percent of aliens encountered by 287(g) officers in 2010 were actually charged with immigration violations.  In 2010, only 37 percent of aliens flagged by Secure Communities were charged with immigration violations.  

The two programs are complimentary, but far fewer illegal alien criminals slip between the cracks with 287(g).  This is because 287(g) jail officers are trained to interview the foreign born inmates and go beyond the automated biometric check; they also can bust those who have no previous encounters with DHS.  A while back, I compared the results of SC and 287(g) in Harris County, Texas (where Houston is located), one of the nation’s largest counties.  I found that SC identified fewer than half of the number of criminal aliens arrested than were identified by 287(g).  And, it took longer to receive results, because queries are routed to ICE’s Law Enforcement Support Center, along with those from all over the country, and then to the local ICE office, which may or may not take action.  Under 287(g), the local officers decide whether to pursue immigration charges on an arrested alien, under the supervision of local ICE agents.  

The downside is that since ICE doesn’t think it needs to connect with police and sheriffs state-wide, this more robust immigration law enforcement targeted at criminals will happen only in those counties, cities and towns that step up to apply for 287(g).  Not all will do that.  

The only way to avoid the development of a patchwork quilt of enforcement in the Commonwealth, and to protect all our communities, is to adopt measures such as those proposed in Sen. Dick Moore’s new bill, which would set a state-wide standard for law enforcement agencies to ascertain the immigration status of non-citizens who are arrested.  Moore’s bill is a good start, requiring all violent felons and drunk drivers to be screened.  It would be stronger if it also mandated screening for lesser felons and serious or multiple misdemeanants, as well as any non-citizen associated with a street gang or in possession of a dangerous weapon, or who cannot provide credible identification.  Of course the least discriminatory policy is to screen everyone arrested, as Secure Communities does.  In addition, any legislation should clarify that all our local law enforcement officers have the authority to check the status of anyone they reasonably suspect to be in the country unlawfully, even if they are not always required to do so.  

Mr. Moore’s bill, which has a strong bipartisan list of co-sponsors, includes several other excellent proposals, including measures to prevent illegal employment and prevent illegal aliens from receiving certain social welfare benefits.  These are just as important, as they will help make Massachusetts less attractive as a destination for illegal settlers and reduce the burden on taxpayers.  Let’s hope the Beacon Hill leadership has the courage to let it come up for a vote.  

About Jessica Vaughan