Virginia's AG Hammers a Nail into the Coffin of Immigration Detainers at the Expense of Public Safety

By Dan Cadman on January 12, 2015

Mark Herring, the attorney general for the Commonwealth of Virginia has issued an opinion that immigration detainers issued by Department of Homeland Security agents are not mandatory, but rather along the lines of "requests".

The opinion breaks no new ground, and in many ways simply continues the kind of circular reasoning that has surrounded detainers for quite some time now: DHS leaders assert publicly, without benefit of legal analysis, that the detainers are voluntary. And when a detainer is inappropriately filed, they leave sheriff's offices and jails on the hook for mistakes made by federal agents. So naturally jails and law enforcement agencies are wary of these "voluntary" detainers because they bring the danger of lawsuits that threaten always-limited fiscal resources.

And then, finally, folks like Mr. Herring ride the draft, issuing superficial opinions that go in the direction they want anyway: breaking a major component of the enforcement system designed by Congress to limit illegal immigration and make communities safer by identifying, assuming custody of, and deporting alien criminals at large on the streets of America — which makes for a curious and troubling stance for the chief law enforcement and prosecutorial officer of a state to take.

How will Herring justify himself to the future victims of aliens who were released from police custody rather than turned over to federal immigration agents? Make no doubt, it will happen. A Congressional Research Service study commissioned by the House Judiciary Committee found that 26,412 aliens out of 159,286 released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a 2.5-year time period went on to commit 57,763 new crimes. These crimes included 8,500 DUIs; 6,000 drug offenses; and more than 4,000 major criminal offenses such as murder, assault, rape, and kidnapping.

Herring's stance is just as troubling as that taken by DHS secretary Jeh Johnson who, as part of the "executive actions" ordered by the president — ostensibly to "focus" on important priorities such as criminal aliens — is so substantially curbing use of detainers that, operationally speaking, they will cease to exist as an effective and resource-saving way for federal agents to locate and remove criminal aliens.

As I said, it's all circular. Think of a sideshow ring in a circus; one designed to distract us from the fact that part of the "progressive" agenda these days is to dismantle immigration law enforcement. Never mind that it puts innocents at risk in cities and towns, both large and small, throughout this land.