Friday, May 21, 2010

Is ICE Putting Freeze on Arizona Immigration Law?

John Morton, Assistant Secretary of State for Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has made it known that ICE might not enforce Arizona's recently passed immigration law.

Earlier this week, Morton told The Chicago Tribune, "I don't think the Arizona law, or laws like it, are the solution." Morton added that he wasn't of the opinion that the Arizona law represented "good government."

For all the hoopla that has surrounded Arizona's Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act the provision concerning the enforcement of immigration law can be summarized in three steps.

Step One - A law enforcement official has made a lawful stop, detention or arrest of an individual.

Step Two - A law enforcement official has developed a reasonable suspicion the individual is not in this country legally (i.e. failure to produce identification).

Step Three - On the basis of this reasonable suspicion, a law enforcement official contacts ICE to verify the individual's immigration status.

If Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano had bothered to read the statute they would have read the part which states:

The person's immigration status shall be verified with the federal government pursuant to 8 United States Code Section 1373(c).

And what exactly does 8 U.S. Code Section 1373(c) read? Well, read it. Don't just glance:

(c) Obligation to respond to inquiries

The Immigration and Naturalization Service shall respond to an inquiry by a Federal, State, or local government agency, seeking to verify or ascertain the citizenship or immigration status of any individual within the jurisdiction of the agency for any purpose authorized by law, by providing the requested verification or status information.

Simply put if an individual is deported as a result of this law it is a decision that would ultimately be rendered by ICE in accordance with federal law not by a law enforcement official in Arizona. And the federal government knows it all too well.

For years Arizona has been at the mercy of the federal government for its largely indifferent efforts to secure the Mexican border. Even with the passage of this law, Arizona is still at the mercy of the federal government. If ICE (with the support of the Obama Administration) makes a concerted effort to either ignore requests from Arizona law enforcement officials to determine an individual's immigration status they will have effectively neutralized their efforts to enforce immigration law and we'll be right back to where we are now. By which all appearances is exactly what the Obama Administration wants.

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