Monday, July 12, 2010
Illegal Immigration is a Confusing Position for Police
By Jerry Brewer
As the U.S. federal government
aggressively wrestles with Governor Jan Brewer’s decision to implement Arizona’s new immigration law, there are
many state and local law enforcement officials who are misguided by much of the political posturing and flexing.
Vagueness and vacillation
by some on this controversial but critical issue is not a panacea for perverting form over substance. The Justice Department on behalf of the policies of President Barack Obama states that this law “illegally
intrudes on federal prerogatives,” and further states that federal law “trumps state statutes.”
On the frontlines of non-federal
law enforcement, officers mandated by state and local government law and policies to go beyond the generic duties of protecting
and serving is a more complex and arduous mission. That mission includes the
safeguarding of human life and property, as well as investigating violations of law and other criminal acts.
The proverbial line in the sand
on this political issue is nothing more than an international border. That border
is a 2,000 mile legal but porous avenue of human movement.
The border has been traditionally
the primary enforcement domain of federal law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Border Patrol and ICE. They are also responsible for every other U.S. point of entry including the U.S. coastline and a Canadian
border over 5,000 miles wide. You would be hard pressed to hear from many federal
agents that they can perform that immense task without local law enforcement’s help and support. That mutual assistance is a critical and inherent structure of a democratic and proactive enforcement model
of effective policing. It is simply a team effort.
Canada wrestled with many problems
similar to the U.S. regarding immigration, jobs, and terrorism concerns. Of the
nearly 17 million immigrants who poured into Canada between 1970 and 1993, only 17 percent were classified as coming from
majority-white countries. Among the latter were nonwhite second-time immigrants.
Proactive law enforcement leaders
and administrators throughout the nation clearly know now that they have many obligations far beyond the scope that they may
have imagined or perceived only a decade ago. Adequately understanding the metamorphosis
of traditional policing to a model of anti-terrorism policing initiatives, and the true sophistication of this new transnational
threat is not easy. The reality is they are tasked today with a more global approach
to crime and interdiction that uniquely challenges skills, resources and personnel.
More so on the southern borders
at this time is the illegal immigration threat that also manifests itself with the terrorism threat. Not being soothsayers police must be able to determine immigration status of suspected human traffickers,
narcotraffickers, assassins/enforcers, weapons smugglers, and transnational criminal recidivists that routinely return sometimes
just days after being returned to their country. Police would of course need
“reasonable suspicion.” The majority of these criminals will not
necessarily be “obvious” in their modus operandi.
The recruiting, transportation,
and eventual harboring of “trafficked” persons by force, as well as for prostitution and forced labor and servitude,
must be confronted on the frontlines. This form of interdiction is almost impossible
without proper documentation and the determination of the country of origin.
Human trafficking is the fastest
growing criminal industry in the world, tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest, after the drug-trade. There are an "estimated 600,000 to 820,000 men, women, and children trafficked across
international borders each year.” Local police must not bury their heads
in the sand on these real issues, nor expect an abundance of federal agents to come running.
The claims that the Arizona law
would result in police harassment, the detention of foreign visitors and legal immigrants, and other perceived acts of abuses
of power are not rational arguments unless the ethics, trust, or criminal nature of police is indeed suspect. In that case, as in any other U.S. police interdiction, the act(s) should be reported and documented, as
well as properly investigated.
Too, the claim by some
that this form of interdiction would result in poor community relations, scare victims from reporting crimes, as well as racial
profiling, fall flat. For these issues have been troubling police administrations
nationwide for decades, especially for those of us that have been police administrators in high-violent-crime corridors and
predominately minority-based jurisdictions.
This transition would require
training and associated professional development in immigration enforcement and/or detainment.
A necessity that is no different to all law enforcement personnel that must upgrade skills due to situations that become
Traditional policing in this
nation is over, and all crimes and hazards must be confronted. As well, the federal
government will not want to go this awesome endeavor alone.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global risk mitigation firm headquartered
in Miami, Florida. His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.