Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced last month that the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) was partially reversing a policy instituted following a Board of County Supervisors meeting last May, when the long-established practice of cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify and detain alien criminals lin the county jail was ended.
The partial reversal appears to have followed a period of soul-searching after the murder of Kate Steinle at the hands of an illegal alien in San Francisco. The sheriff there is unrepentant about the repeated victimization of the area's citizenry at the hands of alien recidivists released to the streets because of absurd and nearly surreal sanctuary policies that fly in the face of any conceivable notion of public safety.
The L.A. announcement was met with the usual whining from members of advocacy groups who talk about "racial profiling", as if the ICE agents were deciding who Los Angeles law enforcement agencies should arrest.
Let's be brutally honest: The various cities composing Los Angeles County are rife with crime and gangs. The Los Angeles Police Department has identified over 450 active gangs and says that "During the last three years, there were over 16,398 verified violent gang crimes in the City of Los Angeles. These include 491 homicides, nearly 7,047 felony assaults, approximately 5,518 robberies, and just under 98 rapes."
Many of the gangs are ethnically or nationality oriented, luring alien youths into membership and a life of crime. Even the most superficial review of gang names shows how heavily these gangs are influenced by ties of birth or ethnicity. It would be odd if this were not the case, given that they usually arise in the neighborhoods of their origin, which are often segregated, not to say ghettoized, along such lines. Perhaps that, too, is somehow ICE's fault?
But back to the sheriff's announcement. It may be a step back toward a sane policy that protects the public, but it's no panacea. Above all, it's the carefully crafted political compromise of an official navigating his way through dangerous waters. There still appear to be unacceptable limits on the individuals ICE agents will be given access to and the LASD will still honor few, if any, detainers, although it will provide advance notice to ICE of the release dates of aliens convicted of "serious or violent" crimes — as defined by the Sheriff and a California state law (the TRUST Act) that appears to unconstitutionally infringe on federal immigration prerogatives and endanger the public.
Of course, the Obama administration shares much culpability for the present state of affairs. It has turned a blind eye toward runaway state and local governments enacting irresponsible sanctuary legislation while at the same time shoving down the throats of immigration agents an equally irresponsible regimen of constraining "enforcement" priorities under the vapid name "PEP" (Priority Enforcement Program). It inhibits agents from even filing detainers in many instances, obliging them to walk away from alien offenders. Instead, it has required each ICE field office to "adapt" chameleon-like to whatever charade the local jurisdictions foist on them. This is a curious stance for a White House that pulled out all the stops in suing Arizona to prevent it from doing something to aid enforcement, arguing that immigration is such a wholly federal prerogative, that state and local governments have no business trying to intrude on this sanctified area.
The result has been a marked drop in the number of detainers filed, with a concomitant drop in the number of arrests and deportations by ICE: 24 percent in each category for federal fiscal year 2014, compared with 2013 figures (which, in turn, were also lower than the year before, due to the accretion of this "perfect storm" of imperfect and foolish thinking about what constitutes appropriate immigration enforcement, at all levels of government).
All in all, the sheriff's decision is a small but welcome change, and yet the outlook for a significant enhancement to security and safety — in this case, for Los Angeles County residents — is not good. Continuing limitations not only inhibit identification and apprehension of many alien criminals and gang members, but also force ICE to conduct much of its business in a labor-intensive manner despite the existence of 21st century technology that would obviate that need.
Prognosis: more victims.