While sharking a parking spot this morning, I caught KQED's California Report. This morning, the report focused on new efforts in Orange County to employ local police in immigration enforcement.
Some are understandably concerned about this. Check the link above later to see if the show is available online (it wasn't yet as of this posting)[Update: here it is].
Foreseeably, MAPA, MALDEF, and others argue that such a broadening of enforcement would have a detrimental impact on the value of community policing and would lead to racial-profiling. On the other side of the debate, those fine patriots who've taken border patrol into their own hands, the Minutemen, and the Orange County sheriff. The sheriff says the program - which would, if I am remembering the story correctly (please listen to it and fact check me when it's up), is available to local jurisdictions under existing ICE law/regulation, would mean OC law enforcement would merely focus on getting repeat offenders out of the country - those who come here, do bad things, and keep coming back for more.
So, what do you do when you pull someone over, they aren't a repeat offender, they have no criminal record, but they're here illegally? Let them go until they do commit a crime? Put them on a watch list. Stick them on a cattle car and drop them off on the other side of the border, just like in the good old days?
And to avoid charges of profiling, wouldn't the city attorney or county counsel in any jurisdiction demand the citizenship checks be conducted ministerially, with no measure of discretion, on every suspect/everyone in the jurisdiction?
How could you not?
As it turns out, for at least part of the time he was here, my boyfriend should not have been - unbeknownst to both of us. Had he been pulled over, what then? Of course, he has no criminal record, but how could you write an enforcement policy that tells local cops to let go people who shouldn't be here? That would make those Minutemen pretty upset wouldn't it? Might seem a bit hypocritical, no?
I've only just obtained a passport. I don't carry it with me on a daily basis. What happens to me? Lucky for me, my ethnicity shows up in print and not so much on my pale skin, but what if I were browner? Oh wait, there's no profiling, so I guess, well, yikes, who knows.
Does anyone think this is, perhaps, a bad idea? A really, really bad idea? An unconscionably bad, unamerican, that-sound-you-hear-is-the-Founding-Fathers-spinning-in-their-graves bad?
I hate slippery-slope alarmism, but that cuts both ways here, doesn't it? Costa Mesa has won the dubious distinction of becoming the first place to employ local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws. You can tailor a carefully worded policy. You can direct the ICE-cops to look only at the worst offenders. But eventually, you're going to face the easily foreseeable issues at the bottom of the slippery slope.
One opponent to the plan said that programs such as this have been attempted before, but without "the Twin Towers as their big fig leaf." How sadly true is that statement . . . .
I'm going to read up on the issue more - but I encourage you to check the California Report site and listen for yourself - and keep listening this week (check local affiliate for times) as the series continues [correction: I believe the series continues weekly, so check next Monday].
I think it may be time to refocus on immigration law. I didn't think an area of law would become more personal to me than election law, but that seems like a hobby now. Immigration law - that's lives.