July 01, 2006
How to pander and meddle all at once

You have to hand it to John Culberson. The man knows how to pander.

Local officials continued to debate police policy toward illegal immigrants Thursday after the U.S. House passed a Houston lawmaker's measure that would cut off federal crime-fighting money to cities with sanctuary policies.

The House overwhelmingly approved a spending bill containing an amendment by U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, intended to force state and local authorities to get more involved with immigration enforcement - or risk losing millions in federal grants.

In a news release on his amendment, Culberson listed Houston among cities that "have adopted sanctuary policies which prevent law enforcement officers from inquiring about immigration status."

Mayor Bill White, Police Chief Harold Hurtt and the top federal official charged with local immigration enforcement maintain the city doesn't have a sanctuary policy.

Responding to that assertion Thursday, Culberson said, "If they are in compliance with the law, and they can prove it to the Justice Department, then they don't have anything to worry about."

Since Culberson is so clearly interested in running the city of Houston, I look forward to the declaration of his Mayoral campaign in 2007. I'm told that the Republican Party once valued the concept of keeping the federal government from meddling in local and state affairs. You sure couldn't tell that by the current crowd in Congress. And needless to say, there's no funding being proposed to cover the extra manpower and training costs for this mandate. All sadly typical of the man.

Perhaps Culberson should ask Immigration and Customs Enforcement what they think before he took action against the city he allegedly represents.

Hurtt repeatedly has denied the city has a sanctuary policy.

Bob Rutt, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Houston, referred questions about the new legislation to ICE headquarters in Washington - where an answering system doesn't accept messages.

Last week, however, Rutt reinforced Hurtt's view, saying Houston police notify ICE when officers arrest people wanted by ICE. He said officers also call his agency when they suspect violent criminals might be in the country illegally, and they help out on some criminal operations.

The department also flags criminal cases involving illegal immigrants when they are sent to the Harris County District Attorney's Office, so ICE agents can determine whether arrestees are in the country legally.

"Houston is not a sanctuary city, by the definition," Rutt told the Houston Chronicle on Saturday. "They do cooperate with us."

But that doesn't make headlines, and it doesn't fire up the base, so it's not relevant.

Stace thinks we should tell him to stick it. I'd prefer that this die in the Senate rather than have it come down to that. Here's hoping.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 01, 2006 to National news | TrackBack

He knows that even if it passes, it will never be enforced. Along with the rest of our immigration laws. It's too easy to not enforce it and let state and local governments deal with it.

As for sanctuary, are we supposed to turn our backs on millions of people who have been lured here with the promise of becoming "guest workers" by Culberson's own party?

I suppose we could just let them fend for themselves. After all, that is what the rest of us have had to do as a result of Republican leadership in this this country.

Some of us remember what this country is all about. The Republicans obviously don't.

If Culberson is so adamant about doing something about illegal immigration, why not enforce existing law and go after some of the major employers of illegal immigrants?

Might be because most of the major employers of illegal immigrants are also major contributors to the Reapublican Party.

Which propably explains why all of a sudden the Republican Party started referring to illegal immigrants as "guest workers."

Posted by: Baby Snooks on July 1, 2006 11:17 AM
"Federal funding is essential for Houston's efforts to fight crimes, especially the war against drugs," the mayor said in a written statement.

So, if Culberson's bad policy gets ignored, other bad policy will be underfunded? I don't see a downside...

Posted by: Michael Croft on July 1, 2006 11:44 AM

Culberson often speaks with the self-righteousness of a man who believes he represents the majority viewpoint, even when he rarely does. I heard him describing this bill on KTRH the other day and I could have sworn he was frothing at the mouth. The Republicans are going to ride this pony for all it is worth. Gay marriage or flag-burning don't quite seem to be stirring the masses the way they used to, apparently.

Posted by: Dennis on July 1, 2006 12:09 PM

But that doesn't make headlines, and it doesn't fire up the base, so it's not relevant.

The Congressional Research Service refers to Houston as a sanctuary city, so maybe that's relevant.

If the sanctuary policy is such a great idea, then the city's elected officials should stop hiding behind the directive issued in 1992 by the police chief, have a full debate of the issue, and endorse the policy, rescind the policy, or reformulate the policy.

This conservative is for informed debate on the issue by the people we elected to craft policy for the city. Bring in the public, bring in the experts, talk it over, and decide what the policy should be. But let's not play word games and deny that the directive in 1992 established a sanctuary policy. And let's not act as if our local officials ARE showing leadership on this issue by hiding behind that directive. They aren't. If it takes a public initiative or threats from Rep. Culberson to get them to take their jobs as elected officials seriously, good!

Posted by: kevin whited on July 1, 2006 2:05 PM