Friday, April 21, 2006

Is Operation Linebacker making El Paso County less safe?

If border sheriffs misuse money from Governor Perry's "Operation Linebacker" to become immigration enforcers, they'll make their jurisdictions less safe no matter how much they spend. Raids by local law enforcement aimed at deporting immigrants harm public safety. The strategy risks having immigrants refuse to cooperate with law enforcement to report or solve more serious crime. In someplace like El Paso with a big undocumented population, police could soon find themselves unable to solve many major crimes because immigrants fear to cooperate.

After the El Paso County Sheriff conducted its sixth recent raid recently capturing more than 200 total alleged illegal immigrants, the
Mexican consulate protested to ask the Sheriff to cease its dabbling in immigration enforcement. (The chief of the El Paso PD, by contrast, has said he opposes local officers enforcing civil immigration statutes.) The whole process sounds a little loosey-goosey. Sheriff's deputies explained to a local TV station the sophisticated process by which they decide who to detain when no crime has been committed:
“We padded them down for immediate weapons, turns out they didn't have any weapons on them, so we called border patrol. You can tell they were undocumented immigrants." (Interpretation: Brown skin, check, speaks spanish, check, load 'em in the truck, then.)
As I've argued many times, the strategy of using local police to enforce immigration laws invites greater lawlessness, prioritizing fear and xenophobia over public safety. Reported the El Paso Times ("
Mexican Consulate criticizes sheriff's role in arrests," April 20):
Critics said that blurring the line between criminal and immigration investigations risks scaring some crime victims away from calling the police for help.

"If they (sheriff's officials) want to do joint operations with the Border Patrol, that's fine," [Consulate spokeswoman Socorro] Cordova said. "But in most of these cases, they arrive before the Border Patrol."

Sheriff's officials said the raid was well under their "Operation Linebacker" mandate. The operation put more officers on patrol on the border, thanks to a state grant that pays for overtime. The operation gives the officers no new arrest powers and officers cannot arrest people for immigration violations. But officials said they can turn over the suspected undocumented immigrants they encounter during normal patrol to the Border Patrol.
That just seems wrong - they have no authority to conduct immigration raids and no probable cause to detain many of these folks beyond suspicions about immigration status. And BTW, since when did Operation Linebacker become a "mandate" for these kind of shennanigans? I hope that's not what the Governor's people told the sheriffs they were supposed to be doing. Those block grants were portrayed to the public as supplementing patrols, not some new "mandate" for local police to start enforcing immigration laws.

Bender's Immigration Bulletin


bunker_man said...

who to detain when no crime has been committed:

“We padded them down for immediate weapons, turns out they didn't have any weapons on them, so we called border patrol. You can tell they were undocumented immigrants." (Interpretation: Brown skin, check, speaks spanish, check, load 'em in the truck, then.)

No crime? Just wandering around the desert within a hundred miles of the border without a birth certificate or naturalization papers is the crime of "agravated stupidity".

Gritsforbreakfast said...

They weren't in the desert, they were busted in motels, for the most part, said the article.

retire05 said...

I should have know that you were just another bleating heart Austin (San Francisco of the Southwest)liberal when you seem so concerned about having a bunch of illegals shipped back to where they came from.
And local law enforcement don't have the right to enforce the law just because it happens to be a federal law? Where did you go to school? UT?
Maybe you in Austin don't mind getting your socks taxed off so you can pay for services to people who don't even have a right to be here, but out there in the unimportant small Texas town, we do. $4.7 Billion to Texans last year along and that was just for education, medical treatment and incarceration.
Why don't you go tell the residents of Weimer how you feel about our law enforcement officers enforcing the law. And then let them tell you about the guest their town had; Angel Resendez.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@retire05, you wrote: "And local law enforcement don't have the right to enforce the law just because it happens to be a federal law? Where did you go to school? UT?"

For the record, I didn't go to law school at all, but the fact remains that local law enforcement may only enforce immigration law under two circumstances: 1) if they've received certain federal training and accreditation that NO TEXAS AGENCY including the El Paso Sheriff has undergone, or 2) if the US Attorney General makes an emergency declaration, which hasn't happened.

For more details see the report from the TX House Research Organization on the role of states in immigration law.

Finally, you make my point for me - with legalized immigration, it'd be easier to screen out the crooks and killers. They couldn't hide amongst the masses who just want a job. By criminalizing labor markets (that like all markets do NOT, obviously, respect borders), you disperse law enforcement resources from focusing on public safety.

That's why the Sheriff in Hidalgo County wanted to use his Linebacker money to create a special unit for apprehending "criminal aliens," or illegal immigrants who actually broke the law. Hidalgo is an urban county with urban crime problems. But Linebacker isn't about reducing crime. The other Sheriffs voted and decided he'd get $0.00 unless he shifted to patrolling the river. So he did. But I don't think we're safer for it.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that many of our own people (Mexican or Mexican Descent) have learned nothing of the past 500 plus years.

It hasn't been 60 years since Hitler started the same behaviour with the Jewish community.

This candy coated version of racist discrimination is one of the biggest Human rights violations since the invasion of these lands by the European community.

Anonymous said...

FYI, the Federal Ninth circuit court of Appeals has already heard this issue regarding law enforcement's detainment of illegal aliens and found it to be constitutional. The El Paso Sheriff's Office is not staffed with a bunch of podunks malingering around looking to get sued. Screaming and crying by elected officials is baseless and geared towards political gains. The EP Sheriff's Office is one of the largest, sophisticated, and highest accredited agenices in the State of Texas, with degreed managers, supported by a staff of attorneys. Don't assume all is what is said by the political rambling. Crime in the Sheriff's patrol areas dropped by 48% a few months after they started referring illegal aliens to border patrol. By the way, law enforcement throughout the U.S. have been detaining and referring illegals to the feds since the beginning of time, why are people upset about it now? Where were these people last year and before? This is my point.

Anonymous said...

I strongly support the Sheriff and my only wish is that there were more like him. My daughter was recently denied access to school because hers was full. We had to apply for a transfer to another school that is further away and has bad ratings. When I asked if there were illegal immigrants attending her school I was told all they require is a address to attend school. So, essentially, my family pays the taxes - the illegals get the education.

Anonymous said...

"my family pays the taxes - the illegals get the education."

Actually, "illegals" pay the same taxes you do - but except for education and emergency room services they don't get nearly the same level of public benefits. Truth is, your daughter's school is being subsidized by immigrants' taxes - that's even more true for higher ed.

Anonymous said...

that's a load of crap. I have been denied financial aid to UT el paso because we have an "agreement" with mexico and all the kids from mexico get full financial aid. I WORK FOR OPERATION LINEBACKER HERE IN EL PASO and know the procedures and policies that we use. unless you have experience dealing with the crimes committed by illegal immigrants (who get away with it because there is NO PROOF they are here) than you have no business saying anything about them! and if they didn't have documentation on them and couldn't prove they were citizens, then send them back!!! keep me and my family safe.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ the last anonymous: You are a bitter and angry man who probably shouldn't be in the law enforcement profession.

Since all statistical evidence contradicts your touted experience about immigrants and crime, I can only tell you I'm sorry, I didn't get a scholarship to college either. Boo Hoo. Let's have a pity party, shall we?