Should The Cops Enforce The Law?
The main split in the Bush administration this week
seems not to be the widely publicized one between the
faction around Colin Powell at the State Department and
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon
over whether to
invade Iraq this week or next week, but rather
between the White House and the Justice Department over
a far more mundane question of law enforcement.
Quite simply, Justice thinks local cops should
enforce the law; the White House doesn`t.
Less simply, the split is between Justice Department
officials, apparently including Attorney General John
Ashcroft, who want state and local law enforcement
help out enforcing federal laws against illegal
immigration, mainly for
counter-terrorist reasons, and the Bush White House,
which thinks the locals ought not to be involved in what
is properly a federal law enforcement function. The
Department has drawn up a document
declaring that state and local cops have authority
to track down illegals; the White House is against
acknowledging such authority.
Behind the disagreement is less than meets the eye:
not so much different views of constitutional authority
or anything quite as inflated, but simply issues of
administration and politics. Justice simply doesn`t have
enough people to track down, round up and adequately
millions of illegal aliens in this country who may
or may not be connected to
terrorist activities, so it would like the locals to
help out a bit.
The locals, however, don`t always want to help out.
As the New York Times reports on the split among
the Bushites, "Many police departments have voiced
concern that the new Justice Department proposal would
jeopardize their relations with immigrants, who would be
less willing to report crimes." "This is a democracy,
based on freedom, and people have a right to basic human
dignity," whines John R. Robertson, [email@example.com] chief
of police in
Newark, Calif. "That means they`re not going to be
questioned just because of their appearance."
April 29, 2002
Of course, the cops can question suspected illegals
on any basis they please, but it`s sheer pretense to
claim that illegal aliens from Latin America don`t
usually look like Latin Americans. If this is "racial
profiling," so what? As for jeopardizing relations
with immigrants, how about jeopardizing the security of
the country? That`s what local cops do when they refuse
to enforce federal laws against immigrants who are here
illegally. Police bureaucrats like Chief Robertson might
learn a bit more about "democracy" if the communities
they`re supposed to be protecting booted them out of
The Bush administration, of course, is less concerned
about all the babble about "racial profiling,"
"alienating Mexico" and similar excuses for not
supporting the Justice Department`s policy than it is
with—you could never guess—the
Hispanic vote. As the Times also reports,
"One senior administration official said that unless
modified significantly, the proposal could lead to
racial profiling and lawsuits resulting from police
abuses, strain relations with Latin American nations and
alienate Hispanic voters who Republicans are courting
for the midterm elections in November."
So much for the "war on terrorism."
The administration is entirely willing to blast
Afghan villagers to splinters and threaten war against
whatever imaginary "axis of evil" its speech writers can
concoct, but when it comes to taking elementary measures
inside this country to secure our borders and apprehend
illegal aliens, it
refuses to budge.
Put bluntly, the administration can`t take a pit stop
without first pondering the political implications and
how it might exploit the situation to pander even more.
There is every obvious reason for
local and state police to arrest suspected illegals,
even without the terrorist threat that continues to loom
over the nation`s head. Just because violation of the
immigration laws is a federal offense doesn`t mean
locals can`t arrest people who commit it. Bank robbing
and kidnapping are also federal offenses. Would the Bush
White House seriously claim that local police shouldn`t
stop bank robbers and kidnappers if they have the
"If these people are in violation of the law," Jim
Pasco, executive director of the
Fraternal Order of Police, told the Times,
"then state, local and federal police have an
obligation to move against violators of immigration law."
What the policy conflict inside the bowels of the
Bush government tells us is that there is no "war on
terrorism" at all if such a war threatens to curb the
flow of illegals essential for
cheap labor and cheap votes.
It`s just as well for the security of the country
Osama bin Laden and his brood don`t hail from
Mexico or some other neighboring country that
supplies the labor and the votes the administration and
its cronies crave.
If they did, the White House might be suggesting
plausible reasons why we really didn`t need the
World Trade Center anyway.
May 02, 2002