But We Like Our Criminals! Or, It Depends What the Meaning of 'Patchwork' Is

By Jessica M. Vaughan on October 6, 2010

The most accurate indication of how well an immigration law enforcement program works is not ICE statistics, nor management school-inspired metrics, but the volume and tone of the ethnic and civil liberties advocacy groups' opposition to the program.

Former ICE Official Dan Cadman Explains
the Secure Communities Program:
View the Full Interview

Exhibit One: Secure Communities. This sensible program links DOJ and DHS databases to allow for an automated immigration-history check to be run at the same time as the routine criminal-history check done on every person booked into a local jail. It flags criminals who are foreign nationals and sends a notification to ICE, which can choose to remove the offender at the appropriate time. ICE has been able to take action on about 100,000 criminals as a result, including more than 24,000 very serious offenders.

But open borders groups like the ACLU can't support even this most basic form of immigration law enforcement and, teaming up with local immigrant grievance groups, have launched a national campaign to block the implementation of Secure Communities wherever possible.

Incredibly, lawmakers in some places – including San Francisco; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Arlington, Va.; Boulder, Colo.; Santa Clara County, Calif.; and the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Minnesota – actually seem to want to keep their non-citizen criminals.

In Massachusetts, embattled Gov. Deval Patrick's administration has refused to sign an agreement with ICE to allow local law enforcement agencies to participate, even though the state's most prominent law enforcement officer, Boston Police Chief Ed Davis, strongly supports the program.

Boulder, Colo., councilman Macon Cowles frets that the program, though completely free for local agencies, could impose "a tremendous cost to local communities – disrupted families, workers who are no longer employed, but instead are in detention."

The Santa Clara county jail supervisor, Don Gage, grumbles that he might have to wait up to 48 hours for ICE to take custody of the criminal aliens, and that his jail will not be reimbursed for that. Never mind that removing these criminals will save him thousands of dollars in future incarceration costs for these non-citizens – most of whom re-offend, like American criminals – and will spare future victims from having to endure their crimes.

Santa Clara's congressional representative Zoe Lofgren, a former immigration lawyer who for now chairs the House immigration sub-committee, has pressured DHS to allow her county and others to opt out of the program. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has complied (see her letter here, although she needn't have (see my earlier blog).

As a result, DHS is now officially endorsing the creation of exactly the kind of "patchwork" of inconsistent immigration law enforcement across the country that it claims it sued Arizona to prevent. Instead, DHS should ask DOJ to bar these sanctuary jurisdictions from receiving any share of the federal grant money it now doles out to counties and states that have illegal aliens in their jails, as has been repeatedly proposed, most recently by Sen. Orrin Hatch.