Thursday, April 14, 2005

Surrender in Virginia

The fact that America's illegal immigration crisis persists, and worsens, almost entirely because of the total inaction of US federal authorities is amply demonstrated by the recent release of eleven illegal immigrants capture in Virginia.
Federal authorities released 11 illegal aliens who were detained during a traffic stop in Annandale (Virginia) because immigration officials said they did not pose a threat to the public.

'The 11 passengers were processed and released,' said Ernestine Fobbs, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. 'There were children involved, so it was better that we released them.'

Authorities ordered the 11 Mexican nationals, three of whom are children, to return to immigration offices tomorrow for further processing. Ms. Fobbs said officials do not know where the illegals are in the meantime.

'It's up to them whether they come back,' she said. 'If they do not, they will be considered fugitives, and once we do encounter them again, they'll be removed from the United States. They stand to lose a lot if they do not appear.'
Re-read those paragraphs again. The message they contain is both blunt and shocking. The US government has no intention of enforcing US immigration law. In this case, federal authorities had detained eleven foreign nationals who violated US law by entering the country illegally and clearly had every intention of continuing to violate US law. The response of the US government? It lets them go. Ms. Fobbs might as well have shrugged when she explained that "it's up to them whether they come back" since it's damn near certain that the eleven released illegals will never show up in court. Her suggestion that they would then be deported if US authorities "do encounter them again" is also laughable. According to a recent Pew study, there are as many as eleven million illegal immigrants residing in the US. If the government continues this level of enforcement that number will only rise - dramatically. Finding these eleven illegals again would be like locating a penny in a land fill.

The incident in Annandale exposes the inadequacy of federal and state law in dealing with the illegal immigration problem.
'It highlights the problem that immigration violation is a federal offense and a state or county officer does not have the authority to detain them for a federal offense,' [Delegate David B. Albo, Fairfax County Republican] said. 'You get your hands on them, and you have no authority to do anything.'

A Virginia law enacted last year allows local law-enforcement officials to detain illegal aliens who are suspected of a crime, have been previously convicted of a felony or have been previously deported or left the U.S. after a conviction and illegally returned. Police also can detain illegals for up to 72 hours without bail until they are taken into federal custody.

Under the state law, there is no authority for a local law-enforcement officer to arrest a person solely for being an illegal alien.
Despite strong public sentiment against illegal immigration, Congress refuses to act comprehensively to deal with the problem. This is the same Congress, incidentally, which found the time to hold rushed public hearings to deal with the "extremely critical" problem of steriod use among a small number of over-paid baseball players and rushed back into session to draft emergency legislation in the Terri Schiavo case. The collapse of the US southern border apparently merits no concern in Washington, save among heroic standalones like Representative Tom Tancredo.

As Americans file their income taxes this week, they may want to reflect on how the government to which they are compelled to hand over so much of their income has abandoned protecting them and now works directly against their interests.


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