Arrest, Yes – But Don't Forget The EOIR

It would be great if every police officer, sheriff and state trooper in America went out and arrested an illegal alien or criminal alien resident today. But it wouldn't be the end of the illegal alien story - it would just be the beginning.

The recent VDARE.com article by James R. Edwards Jr. made clear that using state and local law enforcement to assist the Department of Homeland Security is not only perfectly legal, but it's the right thing to do.

I concur.  And so do Sam Francis and Michelle Malkin

James Edwards certainly knows his way around immigration law.  Co-author of the extremely comprehensive book, The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform, Edwards is one of those rare writers who can make interesting reading out of Section 287(g) of the Immigration Act.

And that's a good thing.  Because this little-known section of law delegating immigration authority to local law enforcement is vital to any future round-up of immigration fugitives. 

Affectionately known as "Section 133 authority," these provisions came into existence as Section 133 of the 1996 Immigration Act – the 104th Congress' wonderful enforcement package, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA).

But unfortunately there's more to immigration law enforcement than just arresting illegal aliens. 

The problem: what happens next.

So with apologies to Paul Harvey, now it's time for the rest of the story.

Even if Section 133 immigration authority were expanded to police departments nationwide -- and thousands of illegal aliens were arrested every day – any hope of an illegal alien-free country would hit the brick wall of current catch and release policies in the Department of Homeland Security, and the "deportation abyss" of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) inside the Department of Justice.

Though largely unknown, the stumbling block called the EOIR Immigration Court system is both a revolving door of detention and release and also a permanent amnesty program.  EOIR is the unspoken four-letter word of the immigration issue. 

As I wrote in March, 2002 --

"If all of the illegal aliens and deportable resident alien criminals were rounded up tomorrow, the system would not be capable of handling them…The aliens would all be released back out on the street on immigration bonds and go back right where they were as if nothing happened, while their cases would grind on through the system of Immigration Court hearings and endless appeals."

Columnist Michelle Malkin also realizes the EOIR dimension of the illegal immigration problem.  In fact, she quoted this exact paragraph in Chapter 10 of her book Invasion (page 215-16, fn. 41).

She also holds the distinction of being the first syndicated columnist and author to adopt the central thesis of my web site, and call for the federal immigration bureaucracy of the EOIR and its appellate body, the Board of Immigration Appeals, to be abolished.

Arresting and detaining illegal aliens and criminal alien residents is long overdue.  But as long as the EOIR and the same former INS policies are still around, the illegal immigration problem won't disappear whether Border Patrolmen or police officers put the handcuffs on someone.

There's a long road ahead for real immigration reform.  And all roads lead to the EOIR.

Juan Mann [send him email] is a lawyer and the proprietor of DeportAliens.com.