Inside Opinion

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Tag: ICE


State laxity on immigration invites voter backlash

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

A sobering number from the Pew Research Center: Over the last three years, the number of illegal immigrants in Washington has jumped by 35 percent.

During the same period, the number of illegal immigrants was falling in the rest of the United States, as many of them lost jobs and headed home.

The Pew numbers – based on analysis of U.S. Census data – corroborate an abundance of evidence that Washington has become an oasis of sorts for people without legal residency.

No real surprise there. The state government is unusually hospitable to illegal immigrants – sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for no reason beyond politics.

A good reason: The simple decency of providing health insurance and adequate nutrition to undocumented children – who had no say in a parent’s decision to sneak into the country.

Not so good: The state’s apparently politically driven reluctance to cooperate with a federal push to intercept illegal-immigrant criminal suspects at the point of arrest.

Backed by Congress, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is asking states for fingerprint metrics of arrestees so it can identify those who overstayed visas or otherwise ran afoul of federal immigration law.

State officials could pass on the metrics with no effort or expense. They won’t.
Also not so good is the state’s insistence on issuing standard driver’s licenses to applicants regardless of legal status.

Forty-seven states do not license illegal immigrants, period. One – Utah – issues licenses that are not valid for identification. Only Washington and New Mexico refuse to make any distinction whatsoever between legal and illegal.
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Secure Communities: Great idea, if done humanely

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Secure Communities is based on a good idea: systematically intercepting illegal aliens who run afoul of the law. Like a lot of good ideas hatched in Washington, D.C., the devil lies in the execution.

Secure Communities is a partnership – not a happy one, in some cases – of federal, state and local law enforcement. When suspects are booked into jail and their fingerprints are passed on to the FBI, the fingerprint metrics also go to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, allowing for cross-checking between criminal and immigration databases.

An illegal alien who lands in jail can thus be immediately flagged for possible deportation by ICE.
Done right, this catches criminals who aren’t in the country legally – precisely the class of illegal aliens nearly everyone agrees ought to be sent home if not jailed in the United States.

As a way of prioritizing immigration enforcement, this beats random hunts for people who jumped borders or overstayed visas yet are otherwise law-abiding.

Aggressively implemented by the Obama administration, Secure Communities is now operating in roughly 800 jurisdictions in 34 states. Washington is not among them.

The Washington State Patrol could provide the metrics to ICE with a few strokes on a keyboard. But the governor and state patrol say it’s up to the individual counties to request that the WSP forward the fingerprints to ICE. They report that none of the county sheriffs have so requested.

One gets the impression that no one wants to touch this tar baby until 2013, when the federal government will force the issue by funneling all FBI fingerprint data into ICE.

Opponents of Secure Communities appear to break down into two camps. One essentially doesn’t believe in borders and fights any serious attempt at immigration enforcement.
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