President Obama’s program to check the legal status of inmates in non-federal prisons will facilitate the deportation of some 100,000 illegal immigrant offenders per year. Heather Mac Donald thinks that this will irritate the “illegal-immigrant lobby,” but I (a charter member) say “good riddance and bon voyage!”
Obama’s approach will remove killers, rapists, muggers, and thieves. Any incidental injustice — and you have to be a fool to believe there won’t be some — I would chalk off to collateral damage in a serious war against crime.
It is true that this program works only “after the fact” — i.e., it does not remove non-citizen criminals before they commit serious crimes. To do that, you must implement work-place verification and 287(g) authority — the former to subject aliens working here to a criminal background check; the latter, to integrate the investigative knowledge of local and federal law enforcers on the activities of those illegally present.
But we are not going to advance either of these goals as long as conservatives insist on deporting maids, short-order cooks, and grape pickers under the same programs that target serial killers and terrorists. Less that 1% of the 17,000 local law enforcement bodies in this country have applied for 287(g). Less than 3% of employers participate in E-Verify, and the voluntary rate of enrollment is even lower.
The simple fact is that Obama’s program does something Americans want (safety from bad actors) without doing what they don’t want (massive intrusions into families and workplaces).
Today, it is conservatives who are the main roadblock to both workplace background checks and the integration of federal and local policing of alien presence — the programs that could improve public safety. But at least we have “principle” on our side — i.e., alienating Latinos en masse, bumming out business groups, and losing Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, California, New Mexico, and Florida in perpetuity.