Opinion

Sheriffs opposed to ICE detention put politics ahead of safety

ICE attributes increased arrests to sheriff, other jurisdictions not cooperating

Sean Gallagher, Atlanta Field Office Director for U.S. ICE, talks about the increased arrests his office is making and attributed it to Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden's cancellation of the 287g program at the jai.
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Sean Gallagher, Atlanta Field Office Director for U.S. ICE, talks about the increased arrests his office is making and attributed it to Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden's cancellation of the 287g program at the jai.

Ah, the irony. Even as the left insistently peddles false claims about the president – Russian agent! White supremacist!! Tax cheat!!! – Trump has inspired them to be far more honest about their own beliefs.

Just a few years ago President Obama and other leading Democrats were pretending they opposed same-sex marriage and considered socialism un-American.

Now, l’esprit de la resistance has led many of them to openly endorse far-left proposals, including reparations for slavery, the rapid elimination of fossil fuels, wealth taxes and a woke disdain for capitalism.

There is, however, at least one major area where Democrats refuse to admit their clear preference: immigration. Enabled by their spin doctors in the media, they denounce all who claim they support open borders. But how else should we characterize their opposition to enforce immigration laws?

North Carolina’s Democrats showed their cards earlier this month when they voted in lockstep against a House bill that would require law enforcement officials to honor detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Republican majority pushed the bill onto the Senate where it is expected to pass in a party line vote before Gov. Roy Cooper’s probable veto.

The bill is a response to the public decision by Democratic sheriffs in five counties – Buncombe, Durham, Forsyth, Mecklenburg and Wake – to refuse to hold prisoners for ICE.

That position is mind-boggling. After all, we’re not talking about rounding-up the estimated 350,000 immigrants who are here illegally but individuals whose status has been uncovered after being picked up on other criminal charges.

Most face minor counts. But in Mecklenburg County, for example, ICE officials say at least 19 individuals with serious charges – including statutory rape, drug trafficking and assault – have been released.

Caldwell County Republican Rep. Destin Hall got it right when he said, “These sanctuary sheriffs are simply putting partisan politics ahead of public safety. This bill only applies to illegal immigrants who have been charged with crimes.”

Democrats are technically correct when they note that they are not required by law to hold these scofflaws for ICE.

But that loophole, which the proposed bill would close, should not be a license to ignore the law. Our liberty rests on two complementary ideas: on the freedom of citizens to protest and work to change rules and regulations that they oppose and the expectation that the laws in place will be faithfully executed.

We have immigration laws. Millions of people are violating them. While limited resources might make enforcement of those laws a low priority, we cannot simply dismiss them.

Sheriffs who do that are not exercising discretion; they are undermining the rule of law.

One might expect that Democrats would be especially protective of this, as they insistently claim, without a shred of evidence, that Trump is an authoritarian who threatens this bedrock democratic principle.

But we’re long past that.

I believe we must enforce our laws. I oppose open borders. The words and actions of many leading Democrats – including those who refuse to work with ICE or have turned their communities into sanctuary cities – clearly disagree with those positions.

Problem is, they also see that many rank and file Democrats do not support that extreme view, so their spokespeople and media acolytes deny the obvious.

Let’s have an honest debate.

Contributing columnist J. Peder Zane can be reached at jpederzane@jpederzane.com.

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