January 23, 2007

Illegal Immigrants and the Police

Carroll Andrew Morse

In a Projo letter to the editor published last Saturday, James Rowley commended Rhode Island state trooper Thomas Chabot…

On July 11, 2006, Trooper Thomas Chabot of the Rhode Island State Police, charged with the enforcement of the laws of the state and this country, stopped a van on Route 95 for a motor-vehicle violation and through the questioning of the operator of the van found that 14 illegal Guatemalan immigrants were in the van.

Trooper Chabot took them to the federal immigration authorities in Providence and turned them over.

There is a movement afoot in the US to make actions like those of Trooper Chabot illegal by prohibiting anyone but a Federal agent from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status. Mr. Rowley points out a very obvious flaw in this policy that hasn’t received enough attention, not-entirely rhetorically asking…
Did any of [the illegal immigrants] have criminal records in their own country that might have prevented their legal immigration?
Think about this for a moment. If an American citizen is stopped by police for a traffic violation, determining if that person is wanted for a crime in another state is considered fair game. But if it is a foreign citizen that is stopped, advocates of no-questions-about–immigration-status laws want to deny local authorities the ability to reliably determine if they are dealing with someone who has a criminal record or someone who is a fugitive in their home country.

It is true that it is a very small number of serious criminals that will be encountered in this way, but police are always operating under the assumption that they need to be vigilant against a few violent individuals who have a potential to do great harm to law-abiding citizens through extreme acts. Unfortunately, open-borders ideologues want to make it just a bit easier for that tiny criminal minority to wreak their havoc.

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I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments. I fear that RIers will overlook this legislation and somehow it will sneak into law. I have already emailed my state representative and senator (neither of which have replied) explaining my feelings to them. I urge everyone to do the same so the people under the dome know how we all feel about the issue.

Posted by: Mike at January 23, 2007 3:08 PM

The hypothetical makes no sense. Sure a State Trooper can't look up an alien's criminal record from another country if he can't where the guy is from, but he can't look up MY record from another country either. And the trooper can still look up the interstate record of both a citizen and an alien.

Simply put, finding out someone's nationality does nothing to aid in finding out where they are wanted.

Posted by: otis at January 23, 2007 4:05 PM


If we extend your argument that citizenship in one country doesn’t prove that you haven’t committed a crime somewhere else, then shouldn’t we also dismiss background checks for legal immigrants as a waste of time?

In order to get a tourist visa, a green card, or anything in between, foreign citizens go through some degree of background check. An alien who enters US illegally skips that process. If that alien eventually comes into contact with the authorities, why shouldn’t the background check be applied? And if you don’t have a system in place for doing this, how are you not encouraging the illegal immigration of anyone who can’t meet the legal standards?

I suppose one way around this would be for foreign countries to allow American police departments unfettered access to their records. But I am unaware of any other countries making that offer.

Posted by: Andrew at January 23, 2007 5:45 PM

I've got an idea! If you want a lot more of those immigrants to go through the background checks, how about we make it easier for the less educated to obtain immigration status? How about loosing the elitist "only send us your best and your brightest" qualifications? At one time it was send us your wretched refuse... it's not that way now. For all of everybody's griping and indignation about this issue, enforcement of existing laws doesn't fix a broken system. Fix the system, the laws, the quotas, first for crying out loud!

Posted by: smmtheory at January 23, 2007 8:37 PM

Wait a minute. There is nothing wrong with our laws and our quotas other than that certain politicians, in order to pander, are refusing to enforce them. This began in the late 1990's under Clinton and continued under Bush.

So what would be the point of modifying our laws and quotas? Moving the goalposts is pointless if the team is refusing to even start down the field.

Posted by: SusanD at January 24, 2007 7:19 AM

... to respond to the original post, yes, this is yet another way that certain elected officials are attempting to block the enforcement of our immigration laws (which include ample quotas). Again, that they do so is contradictory to the best interest of our sovereignty, our integrity as a nation, our economic health and the oath those officials took to uphold the Constitution.

I fail to understand why every other country on the planet is allowed to have and maintain borders except the United States.

Posted by: SusanD at January 24, 2007 7:32 AM

Maybe those borders would be easier to maintain if the immigration application process were more fair SusanD. How long has it been since your ancestors arrived here? If it has been more than 50 years, they didn't get told they had to have a college education before coming in. They wouldn't have been told "hold up there, there has already been enough of your kind come through, you have to go back." They wouldn't have been told "you've got to have a citizen vouch for you that you'll make enough money to be middle class." And now you want to deny that same opportunity to some people who may be very much like your ancestors were back then? No wonder they come here illegally...

Posted by: smmtheory at January 25, 2007 12:38 AM

Jeepers, there's no end to that logic. "Why don't banks hand out money? No wonder people commit hold-ups."

1.) We have no obligation to erase our border, regardless of what our policy was in the past. And our refusal to do so does not convey any right or moral authority for people to come here illegally.

2.) Thank you for bringing up my great grandparents. They were not greeted with social programs and gov't-sponsored translators when they arrived. They came here, worked their butts off in a factory, and learned English, while preserving their language and culture. We continue to welcome all legal immigrants who conduct themselves thusly.

3.) Nice try with the "not our kind". Firstly, regret to inform you that people who support legal immigration are not racist. Newsflash. WE'RE ALL DESCENDED FROM IMMIGRANTS.

Secondly, your statements about our requirements of legal immigrants is simply not borne out by the facts. Our immigration quotas preclude no race nor are all legal immigrants required to have college degrees.

Let me ask you something, smmtheory. Why are you opposed to people coming to this country legally, following our procedures?

Posted by: SusanD at January 25, 2007 9:00 PM

Let me ask you something, why do you assume that I am opposed to people following the legal channels to enter this country? Why do you assume that I am opposed to having legal channels to enter this country? Why do you assume that I think you are racist? I want to make it easier for them to gain the legal status before they come here. I want the system fixed so that everybody has an EQUAL opportunity to gain legal status. What the hell is wrong with that?

My statements about how difficult it is to qualify for immigration to this country not borne out by the facts? Have you fully read the requirements? I have. They are oppressive and distinctly unfair. Don't try telling me that there are no quotas, no limits on how many people can get permission to enter this country. Not only are college educated people given preference, the quotas are higher for the countries that have better educated people. There weren't quotas when your great grandparents came here. And yet you see no problem with that?

Posted by: smmtheory at January 26, 2007 1:04 AM
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