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Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Law

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Thin Black Line, Aug 28, 2006.

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  1. Thin Black Line

    Thin Black Line Well-Known Member

    Is it true that local LEOs can not arrest illegal aliens just for being in the
    country illegally, ie, their status alone?
  2. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    Good question. I've seen that opinion uttered, but usually by somebody who goes to neck-hugging on illegals.

    Generally, local police don't INVESTIGATE stuff that's a federal matter, but I don't see how an arrest of any crook is out of local authority. Dangfino.

  3. Father Knows Best

    Father Knows Best Well-Known Member

    Regardless of whether non-federal LEO's are legally entitled to arrest illegal aliens, they generally won't for very practical reasons. First, unless the person has violated a law that the agency can charge them for, they are going to have to release them or promptly transfer them to an agency with jurisdiction. Since INS is underfunded and understaffed and has a huge backlog, already, it doesn't want local LEO's out there arresting undocumented individuals, and typically will not accept transfers. There are plenty of reports of local LEO's arresting suspected illegals, calling INS, and having INS tell the local LEO to let them go if they can't be charged with violating some other law.

    Since that's what is going to happen, why waste your local LEO resources and jail space arresting them in the first place? There are far better things the LEO's can typically be doing with their time.
  4. SigLaw

    SigLaw Well-Known Member

    It is up to the local jurisdiction as to whether they want their LEO to arrest for immigration violations. There was a recent (not sure when) act or bill that permitted such enforcement.
  5. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus

    Immigration is a federal offense. State and local police have no arrest powers in reference to it. This is the same thing that prevents FBI agents from sitting on the local freeways and writing speeding tickets (that and, I imagine, a profound lack of interest).

    Now, what the police can and should do is arrest individuals based upon crimes that they commit (disorderly conduct, driving without a license, DUI, public intox, theft, rape, murder, drug dealing, etc) and, if they suspect someone of being an illegal immigrant, advise the Fed.gov guys that there is a potential illegal alien being detained at XYZ county jail. The Fed.gov guys can come out and pick him up, and send him back home when he gets released.

    They adamantly refuse to do that.

    Read that last sentence again.

    For the past several years I have been hauling people off to jail, and whenever I get one that I suspect strongly is an illegal, I make sure I alert the INS (now ICE and/or homeland security). The staff at the jail should be doing the same (if they're not, they should be required to do so). All the feds would have to do is pull up in a bus and they could deport dozens, every day, from our one county alone. This is the fallacy of the "we don't have the resources to round them up" crowd...they're already being rounded up, every day. And released. And rounded up again.

    The feds, thus far, have not been doing anything about the illegals we hand to them on a silver platter, pre-caught, pre-cooked, pre-cleaned.

  6. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus

    Cite? First I've heard of it (doesn't make it not-so, of course...).

  7. longeyes

    longeyes member

    Thanks for corroborating what some of us already suspected: that the fish rots from the head. The people who run America have no intention of doing anything about illegal immigration that we the people don't compel them to do. They are quite fine with being lawless themselves while preaching obedience to "the law." I guess they are content to have cynical citizens; I wonder how content they will be in a few years.
  8. beerslurpy

    beerslurpy member

    Florida LE apparently cant arrest based on federal immigration, but they can arrest for state level violations like not having a driver's license, committing a crime against someone, driving drunk, etc.
  9. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus

    In defense of the Feds, it does cost money to round up the prisoners, go through the necessary hearings, and ship them back. Right now I imagine that the money needed to do that is not being allocated. That is the fault of the higher-ups in the agencies in question, and the politicians.

    But, there are pre-caught illegals waiting in county jails from sea to shining sea, just waiting for the government to develop the will to pick them up and send them home. The next time some idjit gets on the tube and blathers that rounding them up is an insurmountable problem, feel free to remind them of this fact.

    The best part is that simply shipping back the caught ones has the effect of helping to filter out the criminals, as opposed to the ones who just came here to escape grinding poverty and want to work for a living.

  10. Frog48

    Frog48 Well-Known Member

    You're confusing arrest power with prosecutorial power.

    State and local can make arrests for violations of federal law (ancillary to an investigation pertaining to state law, typically), and then pass the suspect to the feds for prosecution. However, the reverse is not true. The feds generally cannot arrest for state law and local ordinance violations.
  11. El Tejon

    El Tejon Well-Known Member

    Coronach's experience matches my own, pre-9/11 law enforcement service.

    When we prosecuted non-citizens, we would contact (then) INS. We were told that they were not interested. They did show up for a ring of thieves from Czech Republic (joining cleaning services and cleaning out Wal-Mart and offices). I nearly fell over.

    Same thing happened with felons with firearms. I would call the NDI USA and would be told that they decline to prosecute over and over again. Did take one--convicted sex offender (child molest) with pistol (.32 NEF, IRRC) in a bar.

    Just to clarify, many states have specific statutes permitting feds to arrest for violations of state law (usually under specific circumstances--violent misdemeanor or felony in presence). E.g., Indiana's 35-33-1-1(b) allows feds who are full time and can pack to arrest for a felony in the fed's presence.
  12. Father Knows Best

    Father Knows Best Well-Known Member

    Caveat: while I am an attorney, I know next to nothing about immigration law.

    That said(tm), my understanding is that anyone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally is entitled to due process of law prior to deportation. That means that INS has to store them somewhere, and hold a hearing prior to putting them on a bus or plane to wherever INS thinks they ought to be. as you've probably heard, our prisons (both state and federal) are already overflowing with people who have committed crimes of a non-immigration nature, such as crimes of violence, fraud, tax evasion, drug crimes, etc. While INS has some detention facilities, it apparently doesn't have anywhere near enough space to handle all of the suspected illegals who are caught every year, whether by INS, other federal agencies, or state and local law enforcement. Even if it did, there aren't enough attorneys, clerks and hearing officers to process all of the hearings that would be required. Thus, INS generally discourages state and local law enforcement from rounding up or arresting individuals solely on the basis that they are suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

    Wasn't there a riot a few years back at a federal prison caused in part by frustrated illegals who had been held for years without getting a hearing on whether they would be deported?
  13. roo_ster

    roo_ster Well-Known Member

    I bet Sheriff Joe Arpaio (sp?) could figure out a way to store all the illegals on the cheap while the federales figured out what to do with them.
  14. Frog48

    Frog48 Well-Known Member

    Hahahaha, so true.
  15. crazed_ss

    crazed_ss Well-Known Member

    From what Iv'e heard, the cops around here dont want to enforce immigration laws. It's too much of a burden. The SDPD could spend all day going down to home depot and day worker sites picking people up and filling up the jails.. of course this keeps them from stopping other crimes.
  16. Biker

    Biker Well-Known Member

    Of course, many of the "other crimes" are commited by illegals. Why not be proactive?

  17. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

    This is pretty much my understanding of the situation as well (though I am not a lawyer). If USCIS (US Customs and Immigration Service) attempts to detain you then you get a hearing before an Immigration Judge. If that hearing doesn't go your way, you can appeal it to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Once all your administrative appeals have been exhausted you can attempt to bring it up with the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, though your options to get standing before that court are severely limited by Congress. If the alien has no money at all, he'll be gone as soon as he makes it past the BIA stage. If he has enough money to hire a smart immigration lawyer, he will probably be here for years before it all gets sorted out and probably walking free around town as well.

    Post 9/11 our immigration law is pretty well hosed - people with advanced engineering and science degrees who represent the cream of the global crop have a difficult time entering the country legally to work here and make American businesses more profitable and smarter. We could be siphoning off the best minds in the world from our economic competitors. Instead, we basically encourage them to go work for economies like China and India that will be competing with us in the next 20 years.

    At the same time, we don't apply that screening at all to unskilled labor - and the U.S. isn't going to beat China in the global economy with unskilled labor.
  18. Waitone

    Waitone Well-Known Member

    Meanwhile people die and it seems the legal system is tangled up in its underwear.
    Sad but the story is repeated all over the country. We seem to be enamoured with legal process and ignore the result.
  19. Doug.38PR

    Doug.38PR member

    I thought local police were to uphold all laws local, state and federal
  20. Thin Black Line

    Thin Black Line Well-Known Member

    I brought this up because I've heard different local LEO responses to its
    enforcement around the country. Some places will arrest and hold on
    immigration status alone while many others will not. I think the majority
    do not across a few counties that I routinely travel/work in.

    I also put this into the context of a recent article I read that US military
    AWOL/deserters would have a federal arrest warrant issued on the computer
    and then local LEOs would arrest and detain them for that after the person
    had been pulled over for speeding.

    Granted we are talking about X,000 awol as opposed to 1X,000,000 illegals.
    But, it is still interesting about the informal "catch and release" handling of
    the later.
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