Friday, May 22, 2009
Change We Can Believe In? Enforcement Now, Enforcement Forever: Immigrants, Be Careful When You Go to Immigration Court!
I guess that, given the emphasis on enforcement now, enforcement forever of new Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, it should not be surprising that Immigration & Customs Enforcement apparently is ramping up enforcement in new and novel ways. According to a story by Anna Gorman of the LA Times, immigration officers have arrested a number of immigrants at the downtown Los Angeles immigration court as they were on their way to hearings. "All of the people arrested there had been previously deported and all had criminal records, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice. Immigration agents are reinstating previous orders of deportation, Kice said, which `enables the nation's immigration judges to focus on the cases of those aliens who have not had their day in court.'"
Is this the right way to reduce the workload of the immigration judges? Is that what ICE is really worried about here? Once noncitizens (convicted or not) in the greater Los Angeles community get wind of the risks of arrest by simply appearing at immigration court, aren't they more likely to be too frightened to appear? What came of the notion that we needed to encourage immigrants to trust the immigration authorities to treat them fairly so long as they followed the rules?
One of the lessons from the new LA enforcement ploy is that, when the head of the agency preaches non-stop the virtues of enforcement, enforcement, enforcement without proper recognition of the need for balance and respect for basic rights and the humanity of the people affected, we see actions like the new one in Los Angeles. Expect more of these kinds of "enforcement gone wild" incidents so long as Secretary Napolitano continues to sing the praises of enforcement now, enforcement forever.