April 04, 2009
Two immigration stories

Governor Perry writes a letter to the Department of Homeland Security.

Perry asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano this week to take a series of steps to improve information-sharing between federal, state and local law enforcement. The Homeland Security-related issues "seriously affect public safety in Texas," Perry wrote earlier this week in a letter to Napolitano.

A spokeswoman for Napolitano, Sara Kuban, said Napolitano would respond directly to Perry and declined to comment on the specific issues raised in the letter.

The governor's requests include:

  • Giving all Texas jails access to a database that automatically checks suspects' immigration history. So far, 19 of the 252 jails in the state with electronic fingerprint booking participate in the program, including the Harris County Sheriff's Office and Houston Police Department.

    Those 19 jails have checked 37,000 people through the database since last fall, and have identified 8,844 with fingerprints on file with immigration officials, according to Perry's letter.

    Perry specifically cited the case of Wilfido Alfaro, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador who avoided deportation after multiple arrests in Texas and last month shot and critically wounded a Houston Police officer.

  • Requiring ICE officials to notify the state when they deport a foreign national with a Texas driver's license, which would close a gap that has allowed illegal immigrants to keep valid state identification. For example, according to local investigators, Alfaro had a Texas driver's license, even though an immigration judge ordered him to leave the country in 2001.
  • Keeping illegal immigrants convicted of crimes in federal custody until their deportation. Perry cited a recent case involving two Cubans convicted of robbery in Florida and dropped by immigration officials at a bus stop in Willacy, Texas, after being released from custody.

Based on a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, immigration officials have about six months to deport or release immigrants after their immigration case is decided. To hold someone longer, the federal government must show that a foreign government will issue the detainee travel documents in the "reasonably foreseeable future" or certify that the person meets stringent criteria to be classified as a danger to society or national interest.

In cases involving immigrants from countries like Cuba, which lacks a repatriation treaty with the U.S., the detainees routinely are released from immigration custody within six months because they cannot be deported.

Other than number three, which raises some Constitutional issues and really needs to be resolved by the US growing up and re-engaging with Cuba, these strike me as perfectly reasonable requests. There's a big difference between verifying the immigration status of someone who's already been arrested for something, and verifying the immigration status of someone who's been pulled over or stopped on the street by the cops for whatever arbitrary reason. Maybe there's something here I'm not seeing, but offhand I don't have any objections to the first two items.

The earlier story about DA Pat Lykos' "no plea bargains unless you confess your immigration status to us" proposal is a different kettle of fish. Mark Bennett gets into some of the problems with this idea, which he also sums up in a simple question, but it's John Nova Lomax with a truly impressive deconstruction of the Lykos Plan. I can't really add anything to what he wrote, so go check it out for yourself.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 04, 2009 to National news

Nothing like waiting for an election to be asking for something he should have been asking for 8 years ago.

Posted by: John Cobarruvias on April 4, 2009 3:11 PM

The real problem is the data bases in this country. Whether it's a matter of crime statistics or legal status, the data bases are not reliable. Which is amazing considering the "technological age" in which we live.

If we commit a crime in another country, we go to prison in the other country. And then we are immediately deported. For some reason we don't seem to do too well with the deportation part. Until recently we weren't doing too well with the "go to prison" part either. Our state distrit judges weren't aware that the people they were sentencing to probation were here illegally. Of course state district judges can't order someone deported. Although possibly they should allowed to. We really don't know how many illegal immigrants were given probation although the number of probationers who never checked in with their probation officer probably would be a good place to start looking at numbers. I doubt the Harris County District Attorney's Office would welcome that, however, since they could have and should have at least attempted to verify legal status. And didn't.

The joke when the Houston Chronicle ran a story on it was that they only verified employment. Usually with Bob Perry.

Rick Perry of course is pandering to the "immigration reform" base of his party, all of whom are hypocrites simply because they refuse to accept the reality that their party is the party that chose to ignore immigration law - they wanted "cheap labor" but don't believe the "cheap labor" has any right to housing or education or health care. None of them complained until the bill arrived so to speak.

They want "slave labor" and they want the law changed only because it will protect them from prosecution while allowing them a "slave master's whip" and don't think for one minute that there aren't those who are already threatening to turn in their employees to immigration if they don't "do as they're told."

If there weren't jobs, they wouldn't come here. And the Republican Party, figuratively speaking, became the number one employer of illegal immigrants.

The point is they're here. An estimated 50 million. Maybe the real solution is to make Mexico the 51st state. Right after we ban the Republican Party.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on April 5, 2009 11:48 AM
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