Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tilting at Federal Windmills with Common Sense

With localities facing an ever-increasing fiscal burden from the mass invasion of illegal immigrants, anger at the federal government’s deliberate abandonment of border and immigration enforcement is growing. The situation hasn’t reach critical mass just yet, but the tension continues to simmer and is provoking local officials to make their displeasure known.

An Ohio sheriff has billed the Department of Homeland Security $125,000 for the cost of jailing illegal aliens arrested on criminal charges in his county, saying he's angry that the federal government has failed in its responsibility to keep them out of the United States.

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones yesterday said that although the government may not be legally obligated to pay the three bills he has sent since November, he intends to send similar ones every month until the federal government gains control of the border.

He said 900 foreign-born inmates have been booked into the crowded Butler County jail in the past year.

"Why should Butler County taxpayers have to pay for jail costs associated with people we don't believe should ever have been in this country, let alone this state or county, to begin with?" Sheriff Jones said. "They are in my jail because they have committed crimes here.

"It's time the federal government should at least pay for the criminals they let stay here," he said. "If they don't want to pay for them, then they can deport them."

Representatives of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), claim that they’ve tried to assist Butler County, but given how well they’ve done at the border (1.5 million illegal crossings a year), they have exactly no credibility.

Sheriff Butler’s attempt to charge the federal government for its malfeasance will go nowhere. The feds can safely ignore one such protest. Or a dozen. But if large numbers of localities were to begin demanding such compensations, and if they began withholding payments to the federal government, Washington might be forced to listen. But don’t hold your breath. Local officials are rarely far-sighted enough to act in such a concerted fashion, and are even more likely to be bullied by pro-immigrant activists than state or federal officials.

Still, Sheriff Jones makes a good deal of sense.

"We're not a border state, we're in the middle of the country, but I can tell you the people here are fed up with this stuff," he said. "As the local sheriff, I keep my ear to the ground, and I hear what the people are saying. I have the bully pulpit and my constituents don't, so I am determined to speak for them.

"This is not rocket science," he said. "I intend to continue to bring this problem to the attention of anyone who will listen. There is little else I can do unless and until the system is changed."

The sheriff noted that recent immigration legislation being considered in Washington made no mention of holding Mexican President Vicente Fox or his country responsible for failing to secure its side of the U.S.-Mexico border. He said Mexico appears to be "doing little or nothing to stop anyone" from illegally crossing into America.

Too bad the current President of the United States doesn’t have as much common sense as this Ohio sheriff. Or the backbone to stand up to an increasingly aggressive Mexico.


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