Lesson from Garland: Leverage Local Police for Homeland Security

By Dan Cadman on May 7, 2015

Once again, we have proof in the most tangible and important possible way of the indispensable role that local police, as first responders, play in the safety and well-being of our communities.

When two would-be jihadists, one a native-born convert and the other an immigrant from Pakistan, attacked a group of cartoonists, a la Charlie Hebdo, meeting in the Dallas suburb of Garland — reportedly with assault rifles and wearing body armor — it was a school security officer they first confronted and slightly wounded, and then an outgunned police patrol officer, who nonetheless shot and killed both while they poured weapons fire in his direction.

The fact that circumstances took place the way that they did is even more remarkable given that the native-born suspect, Elton Simpson, was well known to federal authorities and had previously been charged with terrorism. But those charges were dismissed by the most liberal federal appeals court in the country, the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco. The judge who wrote the decision is sister to the head of the National Council of La Raza, who is the former boss of the Obama administration's domestic policy adviser (and chief immigration strategist), Cecilia Munoz.

Once again we have proof that it is often the local police — not necessarily and always the organs of federal government — who are likely to save our bacon when the chips are down (a mixed metaphor, I know, but go with it).

So it should be a no-brainer to invest those cops with the greatest feasible federal statutory protections in all areas possible by giving them both unambiguous authority and clearly defined immunity when acting within the scope of the law, right? Because you never know exactly what kind of situation they will find themselves in that requires immediate response.

I'm not talking just about terrorism here (although obviously that looms large), but also specifically about immigration offenses. Many substantive offenses come to mind. Alien smuggling, which often goes hand-in-hand with violence, extortion, hostage-taking, and drug- or weapons-smuggling. Not to mention aliens who reenter the United States after having been deported, many of whom were removed in the first place for crimes involving violence, extortion, drug- or weapons-smuggling, participation in notorious street gangs, and domestic violence and sexual assaults.

There is a bill that does exactly that: the Michael Davis, Jr. Act. The bill has already been approved by the House Judiciary Committee and moved to the full House, but no vote has yet been scheduled.

The House of Representatives has a chance with the Michael Davis bill to help protect the nation by leveraging the savvy and first-on-scene presence of local police in helping to police our borders (in the broadest possible sense) and further the goal of homeland security, while at the same time affording them the needed authorities and qualified immunities. Let's hope they have the perspicacity to do the right thing.