Some illegal immigration background

Posted by jonjayray on Wednesday, 19 April 2006 22:20.

An Oregon reader responds to my recent mention of an NYT article about illegal immigrants being pulled up by local rather than Federal police and then being handed over to immigration authorities

“Back in the seventies and eighties I would get calls, usually in the middle of the night, to help local police book non-English speaking arrestees. Most but not all were Mexicans, and usually they had been picked up for trivial offenses. But the police needed all the pertinent information, such as their street address in Mexico…. Anyway, in those days if someone was illegal they were always handed over to the federal immigration authorities to be deported, but then the practice was abandoned, probably because too many people felt sorry for the poor Mexicans. After all, all they want to do is make a living, right? Wrong. Some certainly do, but in the local crime reports the majority of offenders goes by Manuel or Jesus or Jose. Not long ago a huge methamphetamine-importing gang was busted here - all Mexican, mostly illegal, with a few white trash hangers-on.

What did surprise me was the provenance of the news article, because the New York Times is a leftist rag, and Westchester and Putnam counties, just to the north of the City, are very wealthy liberal enclaves. They were even when I lived there, now 35 years ago. So it says something for the country’s mood that the police in such areas are now getting federal immigration into the loop. What most foreigners don’t understand about America is that there is no chain of command in law enforcement: local police do not have to cooperate with federal authorities unless they choose to, so when they do there is usually some incentive involved: perhaps a federal grant, or other favors in return. If nothing else, this increase in cooperation could do wonders for local crime rates, too; this may be part of the Putnam county authorities’ reasoning”.

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