Is Law Enforcement Cooperation Really 'Federalization'?

By Dan Cadman on May 7, 2019

Here are the first three paragraphs of an article in The Hill, titled "Seattle mayor: Federalizing local law enforcement in sanctuary cities isn't making America safer":

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said in an interview that aired Wednesday on "Rising" that federalizing local law enforcement efforts in "sanctuary cities" is not making the U.S. any safer.

"It's wrong to try to federalize local law enforcement," Durkan told Hill.TV on Tuesday. "That's not our job, and particularly when the focus of their enforcement efforts are not making America safer or Seattle safer."

"We know that people coming from other countries with their children out of desperate circumstances applying for asylum deserve the protections that the Constitution and the law give them," she continued.

"Federalizing"? I have no idea what she's talking about. This is such a deliberately distorted depiction of the facts that I hardly know where to begin.

To be specific, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents identify aliens illegally in the United States in the custody of state or local police, all they are asking for is cooperation in permitting them — once the aliens are ready for release from the state criminal justice proceedings — to take custody of those aliens so that they may be put into the congressionally mandated due process proceedings they should face in front of an immigration judge. They prefer to do this in the safe confines of a jail or booking station, for understandable reasons having to do with public and officer safety, and so that the alien cannot flee. Those don't sound like unreasonable demands. They comport, in fact, with what any other law enforcement organization would ask. Which brings me to the next point.

I'm willing to bet that the Seattle police department routinely interacts with the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI, and DEA at a minimum; probably also sometimes the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and various military police organizations. Certainly some significant portion of these interactions have to do with those agencies taking custody of someone they wish to charge. Is that "federalizing" the Seattle police? If not, what's the difference? Or do these agencies get stiffed with highfalutin talk of "federalization", too? Almost certainly they don't.

How about law enforcement agencies from other states? When, for instance, the Portland, Ore., police want to take custody of an individual being released by the Seattle authorities, are they turned away because that would be "interstate-izing" and a distraction from the Seattle PD's strangely myopic focus?

And does the Seattle PD, uber-sensitive to this notion of not stepping on one another's toes, have a policy of never seeking the cooperation of other federal, state, or local police organizations for fear of asking them to take time away from their missions? It sounds silly when put like this, doesn't it?

Inter-agency cooperation at every level is a fundamental trait of good law enforcement; without it, law enforcement and public safety everywhere are diminished.

Then, of course, there's the distraction of the mayor's talk about "asylum". First, aliens who commit serious offenses aren't, as a matter of law, entitled to asylum, and when we discuss alien criminals in the custody of the Seattle police whom ICE agents wish to arrest, as often as not that is what we are discussing ... unless Seattle officers spend all of their time meandering around arresting only misdemeanants, which would be curious indeed.

Second, it is, of course, an egregious overstatement and deliberate conflation when the mayor chooses to intermingle the terms "illegal alien" with "asylum seeker", and that with "asylum recipient". Many illegal aliens don't seek asylum — especially those engaged in criminal misconduct; why draw attention to yourself to achieve the likely unattainable? And many aliens who seek asylum are found — after the due process hearings before an immigration judge that the good mayor seeks to thwart — not to be legally entitled to asylum under the law. It is only that final, residual pool who are approved who can legally be called asylees, and I assure Mayor Durkan that ICE agents have many more things to fill their productive hours with than they have time to accomplish. Chasing asylum recipients isn't one of them.

So please, let's stop with the inflated rhetoric to justify the unjustifiable. What Seattle is doing is putting deportable alien criminals back on the streets, most often back into the immigrant communities that they preyed upon in the first place.

Does Mayor Durkan really think that she is doing those communities a favor, or that they see it that way? Or is she simply expressing a modern progressive version of noblesse oblige because she doesn't actually know much of anything about daily life in Seattle's immigrant communities?