The Arizona Daily Star reports that less than half the people picked up by an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer and suspected to be in the country illegally are taken into custody by federal immigration officials or jailed. Despite the best efforts of state and local law enforcement officials to enforce U.S. immigration laws, the federal government is ultimately in charge, and it has little interest in enforcing the law.
Under President Obama, federal immigration agencies are hamstrung, permitted to enforce only certain laws on certain people in certain conditions. When local police have faithfully performed their duties and identified potentially unlawful immigrants, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are in many cases able to take custody of only the most dangerous criminal aliens.
Even then, individuals “referred from local police are four times as likely as others taken into Border Patrol custody to be released or plead their case before a judge, data from The Center for Investigative Reporting show.” So even when the federal government does pick up potentially unlawful individuals from local officials, it often just lets them go.
Such disinterest in enforcing the law and disregard for the safety of U.S. citizens should be a wake-up call for Congress. Immigration reforms are needed, but the core problem is an executive that refuses to be bound by the law. Lawmakers and the American people want to fix the border and make sure the laws are enforced, but President Obama refuses to work alongside local and state officials who are already hard at work enforcing the laws that he will not.
If President Obama will not enforce existing law, there is no reason to believe he will enforce any new laws. Rather than amnesty-centric immigration reform, which is costly and unfair and will only encourage additional illegal immigration, the U.S. should start with faithfully executing existing law. This will restore integrity to the U.S. immigration system and rebuild trust with the executive branch.
Mr. President, if you want to show you can be trusted, you can start by supporting the good men and women of Arizona’s local and state police forces—they are already enforcing the law.