News on Sanctuaries and Remittances

By Dan Cadman, April 7, 2017

A few recent immigration items caught my attention:

Fairfax County, Va.: Sanctuary or No? The Washington Post ran a brief article about Virginia's Fairfax County, one of those that constitute part of the greater metro area around our nation's capital, titled "Fairfax County stops short of sanctuary policy in new immigration guidelines". The county supervisors allegedly opted out and instead voted for a wishy-washy, neither fish-nor-fowl policy. As the Post put it, "Virginia's largest jurisdiction on Tuesday declared itself a welcoming and accepting place for immigrants but steered clear of the word 'sanctuary,' a term that could spark a backlash from the Trump administration."

I say allegedly opted out because later in the article, the Post says "County police are prohibited from arresting anyone solely based on immigration status, but they cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in cases involving serious crimes." Who cares if they arrest individuals based on immigration status — no one asks them to. But as to this issue of serious crimes, who decides that? Why Fairfax County Police do, not the federal agents who are actually charged with enforcing immigration laws. Consider, for example the crime of domestic violence, which is often treated as a misdemeanor, even though it often escalates over time into deadly incidents, either for one party or the other or even the police. Is that serious enough? U.S. immigration law is clear. Even misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence are a standalone basis for removal. This is because Congress — not Fairfax County or any other state or local government — gets the last word. In sum, if Fairfax officials think it's okay to be picky-choosy over when to honor immigration detainers or notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), then, like it or not, they already fall into the definition of "sanctuary".

FLEOA Speaks Out Against Sanctuaries. The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) has spoken out against state and local government sanctuary policies. FLEOA is a large association that speaks for officers and agents (more than 25,000 of them) across a very broad spectrum of over 65 different federal enforcement organizations. FLEOA Vice President Donald Mihalek has penned an excellent opinion piece, "Splitting the Thin Blue Line", for the Daily Caller. Among other things, Mihalek says,

When the EO was signed, the reaction from state and local officials was immediate and predictable. They cited the impact on their law enforcement agencies and how beneficial it was to keep communication lines open with potential illegal aliens that were victims or witnesses of a crime.

In reality most of that is a red herring, no one is enforcing laws against victims or witnesses and the federal government actually has visa programs for individuals that fit those categories. The blame really lies with these officials who insist on allowing illegal criminals to exist in their midst and forcing their law enforcement agencies to break a federal law. Constituents and law enforcement agencies in these areas should be incensed.

He goes on to tell of a Washington State trooper who risked being punished because he arrived on an accident scene and discovered that one of the parties was a convicted drug trafficker and four-time deported illegal alien wanted by ICE. He did the right thing and notified the agency, and now faces disciplinary action for doing so. What's wrong with this picture? Everything. I encourage you to read Mihalek's article.

Remittances and Building the Wall. Who could have imagined that building a fortification to restrict the deluge of humanity illegally entering the United States could become so controversial? It has long been authorized by congressional action, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, and was once a mainstream notion. Of course, it became more controversial yet when candidate Trump promised that he would make Mexico pay for the wall. Mexican leaders reacted with scorn, and American politicians and pundits wondered how that would happen.

With the president's executive order (EO) directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary to initiate planning, and ordering the executive branch to determine funding sources, some members of Congress began making clear they would object to funding the project through the appropriations process.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) has stepped into the middle to propose a solution that is sensible and workable, and that comes close to helping the president keep his word. He has introduced a bill that would impose a 2 percent tax on remittances (money sent home, often by illegal aliens paid under the table or outside of the U.S. tax structure) sent to countries south of our border. As Rogers indicates, "In 2014, Mexico alone received over $24 billion in remittances sent from the United States, while other South and Central American countries received over 15 percent of their GDPs in the form of remittances."

My colleague David North has promoted this concept for quite some time in his various writings.

I would only note, though, that the problem of remittances is a large one — billions of dollars yearly leave our economy never to be seen again, and not just to Central and South American countries. It's worth remembering that nearly half of the aliens illegally in the United States entered legally via visas (or the visa waiver program) and then simply chose to stay and melt into communities all across the nation. They, too, send part of their unlawfully earned salaries home as remittances.

If I were King of the Forest and could alter this valuable bill, it would be to tax all remittances. The resulting monies could be put into a special immigration enforcement fund, and apportioned out in three pieces according to some kind of formula — a portion for the border barrier, a portion to help pay the salaries of the 5,000 new Border Patrol agents the president has demanded, and the third portion to help pay the salaries of the 10,000 new interior ICE agents. There is a certain symmetric justice, I think, in using the proceeds from illegal aliens' remittances to help fund the agents whose job is to ferret them out.