Putting Illegal Criminals Before Cops

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on December 7, 2009

Washington, D.C.'s Maryland suburbs are the home the latest jurisdiction to let political correctness put Americans at risk from criminal aliens. The indefensible policy of Montgomery County bars county police officers from communicating with federal immigration authorities, unless the suspect has first committed a terrible crime. Even then, officers must get permission to call ICE.

This kind of “blame the good guys” policy disrupts the healthy information-sharing that is necessary for effective law enforcement. It puts police officers at risk from foreign-born criminals and gangsters, unduly creating life-threatening situations and a disadvantage for local badge carriers. And it subjects native-born Americans and law-abiding immigrants alike to greater risk of ending up as crime victims, and lower quality of life in their communities.

The Fraternal Order of Police recognizes the danger of this policy and has taken on the county. Montgomery County officials assert that the gag order helps assure illegal alien victims of crime that they can trust police. But in our recent Backgrounder, "The 287(g) Program: Protecting Home Towns and Homeland," Jessica Vaughan and I found no evidence that state and local immigration enforcement, such as a locality’s participation in the 287(g) program, causes crimes to go unreported, even by victims who may not be lawfully present.

It’s most unfortunate that some people in official positions hold a twisted view of who it is they are supposed to look out for. In the real world, people tend to understand that finding, locking up, and holding accountable foreign lawbreakers sooner rather than later translates into fewer crimes, fewer victims, and safer streets. I’d bet that even most Montgomery County residents would prefer their county police officers have the option of freely contacting immigration officials about criminal alien suspects when the officers think it appropriate.