Detaining Illegals: Ashcroft vs. the Chicken Littles

The civil liberties Chicken Littles are after John
Ashcroft again. This week, some of the nation`s top
editorial writers accused the Attorney General of
“overkill” (Washington
“overreaction” (Chicago
), and “throw[ing] away the key (Rocky
Mountain News

So, what`s Ashcroft`s sin this time? He has asserted
the Justice Department`s authority to help stop illegal
aliens from exploiting the federal

immigration system`s

“catch and release”

This is the system under which countless illegal
aliens are

by lax immigration court judges on

low bonds
—or no bond, as in the case of

illegal alien
sniper suspect

Lee Malvo
—and then are never to be seen again.

"The authority to expel aliens," Ashcroft
notes, "is meaningless without the authority to
detain those who pose a danger or a flight risk."
Illegal Immigrants Can Be Held
| Ashcroft`s Ruling
Cites National Security Issues”
By George Lardner
Jr. Washington Post  April 25, 2003]

(He might have added that illegal


, ship-jumpers,


, and other immigration violators such as
the Haitian boat people who evaded U.S. law enforcement
are, by definition, flight risks.)

Ashcroft`s observation came in a ruling issued two
weeks ago, which denied bond to 18-year-old David
Joseph, a Haitian illegal alien who was one of more than
200 passengers on a rickety boat that landed at

Key Biscayne, Fla.
, last October.

You remember, don`t you? TV footage of the

—with hapless

Coast Guard
officials giving chase and hordes of
illegal aliens swarming the highway leading into
Miami—was beamed around the world. Coming just a month
after the

September 11 anniversary
, the easy penetration of
our borders by these Haitian refugees on an old wooden
freighter was a

national security

Allowing the illegal alien passengers to be freed on
bond pending

deportation hearings
would have added to the
outrage—and it would have sent a message abroad that
more mass incursions by sea would not only be

by America, but

as well.

Alas, the Chicken Littles refuse to see the obvious
national security implications of our continued
tolerance for massive immigration law-breaking.

In response to Ashcroft`s reference to a State
Department report that "third country nations
(Pakistanis, Palestinians)
[were] using Haiti as
a staging point"
for entering the United States, the
Washington Post breezily argues that “the
difference between a Haitian and a Pakistani entering
from Haiti could surely be discovered in a perfunctory
border check.”

Hello? Illegal aliens aren`t checking in at the
border or any other ports of entry for any kind of
checks on their national origin, criminal records or
medical histories, “perfunctory” or otherwise.

“Locking up the innocent to deter the guilty is
not a policy that is necessary to national security or
good for American values,”
the Chicago Tribune

“Innocent?” There is no dispute that the Haitian
illegal aliens are guilty of subverting our immigration
laws. Ashcroft is simply insisting that the federal
government detain asylum seekers such as David Joseph in
order to validate their identities and verify their
claims of persecution.

As the Justice Department`s

Office of the Inspector General
has noted
repeatedly, the catch-and-release policy for illegal
aliens has been a nightmare for immigration enforcement.


Inspector General
reported in February 2003 that for
aliens ordered deported by the immigration court system,
97 percent of all asylum-seekers who were released from
immigration custody disappeared and were never deported;
94 percent of aliens from terror-supporting countries
who were released from immigration detention walked out
of custody and out of sight, never to be deported; and
87 percent of all aliens released from immigration
custody were never caught again, and were never

The Ashcroft-bashing Chicken Littles raise some valid
concerns about striking the proper balance between
liberty and security. But the truth is that they have

every sensible and effective immigration
enforcement measure since September 11—from cooperative
immigration enforcement efforts between

local cops
and the feds, to

Operation Tarmac
, which has nabbed nearly 1,000
illegal aliens working in airports, to the

National Security Entry Exit Registration System
which has stopped 330 known foreign criminals and nearly
a dozen known terrorists from entering the country.

The sky hasn`t fallen since

September 11, 2001.

Thank Ashcroft, not the alarmists, for that.

Michelle Malkin [email
her] is author of

Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists,
Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores

for Peter Brimelow`s review. Click

for Michelle Malkin`s website.