What Obama`s Secure Communities Stall Shows: He Simply Doesn`t Want To Enforce Immigration Law

Today (June 8) the
New York Times
carries an editorial,

Resistance Grows
praising Massachusetts Governor


for joining New York State, Illinois and other
jurisdictions like the City of San Francisco for
refusing to participate in the

Secure Communities Program

which partners federal, state, and local agencies for
the purpose of immigration enforcement. California may
very likely be next. Stopping SComm is very high on the
liberal—for blatant



The Obama
administration has repeatedly gone back and forth as to
whether or not it will allow states to opt out of SComm.
In May,

Janet Napolitano


"Where immigration is concerned,
the federal government fundamentally sets the policy.
And just as states can`t, on their own, have a

this is kind of the flip side of that, nor can they
exclude themselves from an enforcement tool that we are

[Can San Francisco be forced to participate in Secure Communities,
By Rina Palta, San Francisco Chronicle, May 9, 2011. Link added.]

But the most that
ICE would say after San Francisco opted out was to

the decision

Barack Obama
sued Arizona

over its SB 1070 on the

alleged grounds

that we cannot have different states and localities
having different immigration enforcement policies. The
obvious next question: whether or not he would apply
this standard to
“Sanctuary Cities”—cities which explicitly refuse to enforce the law
against illegals.

It would seem to
be a no brainer. After all, Arizona was merely trying to
enforce federal law; Sanctuary Cities are actually
defying it.

However, this
would be to assume that the Obama administration`s

was based on the rule of law and some level of internal

A spokesman for
attorney general


rationalized inaction this way:

 "There is a big difference between a state or locality saying they are
not going to use their resources to enforce a federal
law, as so-called sanctuary cities have done, and a
state passing its own immigration policy that actively
interferes with federal law."

[Justice: Sanctuary cities safe from law,
By Stephen Dinan,
Washington Times, July 14, 2010]

The absurdity of
this statement is amazing even by Obama/Holder


explicitly mirrors federal law. And US Code 1644

"a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not
prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity
or official from sending to, or receiving from, the
Immigration and Naturalization Service information
regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful
or unlawful, of any individual"

Because of this
pesky fact, the Obama Justice Department came up with a
novel interpretation of immigration law. It argued that
the issue is not interfering with the letter of the law,
but that Congress gave the president power to exercise
to decide what illegal aliens to enforce
the law against.

According to the
Justice Department`s lawsuit against Arizona:

"federal government prioritizes
for arrest, detention, prosecution, and removal those
aliens who pose a danger to national security or a risk
to public safety…principally targets aliens engaged in
or suspected of terrorism or espionage; aliens convicted
of crimes, with a particular emphasis on violent
criminals, felons, and repeat offenders; certain gang
members; aliens subject to outstanding criminal
warrants; and fugitive aliens, especially those with
criminal records…"

In other words,
according to the Justice Department, if Arizona
contacted ICE about illegal aliens who are not also

, gang
members, or

this would interfere with the Feds` ability to go after
these “target
. [
United States of America v. The State of Arizona

In issuing and
then upholding the injunction against SB 1070
respectively, both District Judge


and Appeals Judge

Richard Paez

accepted this argument. In Paez`s words, SB 1070
"interferes with
the federal government`s prerogative to make
removability determinations and set priorities with
regard to the enforcement of civil immigration laws."

vs. State of Arizona
, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, April 11, 2011 (PDF)]

But how exactly
does the Obama administration plan to enforce laws
according to these priorities? In a brief supporting the
Justice Department`s lawsuit,

Daniel Ragsdale
Obama`s Executive Associate Director for Management and
Administration at U.S. Immigration and Customs


"Consistent with its policy of
focusing enforcement efforts on criminal aliens, ICE
created the Secure Communities program [SComm] to
improve, modernize, and prioritize ICE` s efforts to
identify and remove criminal aliens from the United

Thus the Obama
administration has actually hailed the SComm as a reason
why laws such as SB 1070, and to a lesser extent the
287(g) program, are not necessary.

SComm was
established in the

year of the Bush administration.

It has increased the deportation of criminal aliens, which the Obama
Administration has been claiming credit for, while

overall deportations have fallen

law enforcement agencies

run the fingerprints of those arrested through ICE
databases to see if the match criminal aliens. Based on
the severity of the crimes, ICE decides how to
prioritize them on three levels.

"Level 1–Aliens convicted of
`aggravated felonies`…[or] two or more…`felonies`.
Examples include major drug offenses, national security
crimes, and violent crimes such as murder,

, robbery and kidnapping.

“Level 2–Aliens convicted of any
felony or three or more …`misdemeanors.` Examples
include minor drug and property offenses such as
burglary, larceny, fraud, and money laundering.

“Level 3–Aliens convicted of
crimes punishable by less than one year"

[Department of Homeland Security,
September 29, 2010 (pdf)]

ICE officials then
use discretion on who to deport, focusing primarily on
the Level 1 and 2 offenders.

This is better
than nothing, but it is far from ideal. Most illegal
aliens are literally


so if they
have not previously been arrested or deported, they will
not show up in the databases. In fact, given sanctuary
policies across the country combined with inaction on
the federal level, they could very well have been

arrested several times
and never been reported to ICE—like the

Railroad Killer, Angel Resendiz.

In contrast, the
287(g) program, which Obama has

greatly restricted
closes these loopholes. As the Center for Immigration
Studies` Jessica Vaughn notes,

"The local 287(g) officers can
determine the status of aliens who have not had contact
with immigration agents – mostly recent illegal arrivals
committing their first non-immigration crime, or people
admitted on border crossing cards, who are not
fingerprinted upon entry like visitors from most other

(Vaughn also notes
that "Secure
Communities prioritizes which criminals will be
subjected to immigration law, while the HCSO 287(g)
officers try to process virtually every alien offender
who is removable."
A Tale of Two Programs: Secure Communities vs. 287(g),
March 12, 2010] However, as we are taking Obama`s
emphasis on enforcement
at face value, we will put Vaughn`s final objection on

So states and
cities that opt out of the SComm undercut Obama`s
claimed concept of
to a much greater degree than SB 1070. While the law
empowers local police to request the legal status of
potential illegal aliens, ICE is unfortunately not
required to do anything about it, so it`s no waste of
federal resources for them to receive the requests.

Congressman Lou
Barletta gave an example of this very problem on


his Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act (more on
that in a future column):

"Four weeks ago, just a few miles
from here [
PA], a police
chief stopped an illegal alien who has been in the
country for six years. This man didn`t know his address.
He had an arrest record. He had no job. He had $3,000 in
cash in his pockets. He had two

public benefit access
And the federal government told the police chief to let
this illegal alien go."
[U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta unveils bill cutting federal funds for `sanctuary
May 31, 2011]

criminals are apparently not a
for ICE. But I digress.)

Barletta`s example
shows that ICE could, and probably would, ignore every
single request coming from Arizona. The problem,
according to another ICE bureaucrat David C. Palmatier`s


against SB 1070, is that the law
"will inevitably
result in a significant increase in the number of IAQs
[Immigration Alien Queries]"
, which will reduce
"our ability to
provide timely responses to law enforcement on serious
criminal aliens."

According to
Palmatier`s testimony, ICE processed approximately a
million IAQs in 2009, and, supposedly, Arizona would
make ICE "process
thousands of additional IAQs annually."

But Visa


38 billion
credit and debit card transactions (not dollars,
individual swipes of the card) each year. Somehow I find
it hard to believe that with modern technology it`s that
difficult for ICE`s computers to process these

Again, however,
taking the Obama administration at its word, slowing
down this system seems like a much less of an impediment
to deporting
“target aliens"
than having
entire states
turn them loose.

In fact, ICE
acknowledges as much. ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice
responded to San Francisco`s abdication from the program
by saying "The
identification and removal of many criminal aliens would
not be possible without the cooperation of our state and
local law enforcement partners."
ICE: SF Sheriff`s Decision To Release Some
Undocumented Immigrants "Unfortunate"
by Bay City News, May 6, 2011]

(I should qualify
that opting out of SComm is not an
ipso facto
violation of the aforementioned anti-sanctuary statutes.
They could communicate with federal authorities with
other tools such as 287(g) but San Francisco and other
jurisdictions opting out do not.)

Moreover, SB 1070
is not even remotely in violation of any statute—but
that did not keep Obama from suing Arizona over this
bogus notion of enforcement priorities.

Even by the
Obama`s administration`s twisted logic about
prioritizing the enforcement

against criminal aliens
he should crack down on every

and locality

that opts out of SComm. So the fact that Obama will not
act against New York or San Francisco

clarifies Obama`s motivation for suing Arizona.

It has nothing to
do with federal pre-emption doctrine or

Obama simply does not want to enforce U.S. immigration

But with the recent
Supreme Court decision

validating the

Arizona workplace ID 
, and more states following in Arizona`s lead, illegal aliens will start
moving from Arizona and Georgia to New York and

Even Democratic voters will not stand for the

increased crime and social problems

this will bring. Eventually, it will bring down the

Sanctuary mayors

and governors.

It might just

down Obama.

"Washington Watcher" [email
] is an anonymous source Inside The