Thursday, July 14, 2005

Don't forget jaywalking, too

Is it just me, or is the INS incapable of doing its job? The New York Times reports that a New Hampshire police chief had to resort to a charge of criminal trespass in order to hold an illegal worker overnight. The regional INS office apparently had no resources to ship the gentleman back to Mexico. The crux of the problem of using criminal trespass:
Judge Runyon deferred his decision on whether to dismiss the case until he could hear similar motions in the cases from Hudson. But his questions to both sides underscored the combustible and sensitive nature of immigration enforcement in a post-9/11 world.

On the one hand, he said to defense lawyers, "in this day and age when everyone is so worried about having terrorists in our midst, if a local law enforcement person is dealing with somebody that can't show some basis for their lawfulness of being here," and "they can't get any kind of response that seems to answer their questions from Immigration, are they just hamstrung?"

On the other hand, he told the prosecutor, some immigrants might "have a driver's license from Germany or France but don't have any other papers" with them. "Are you suggesting that those people are going to be charged criminally," he said, "because the police can't figure out that they're supposed to be where they are?"

Noting that if Mr. Ramírez was found guilty, he would be sentenced to nothing more than a $1,000 fine, not jail time, the judge also asked the prosecutor, "How is national security or even local security enhanced by giving someone a citation?"
Back in June, I posted an article about how citations in Harlingen, TX are routinely ignored. I don't see how this would work in New Hampshire, but local law enforcement is clearly annoyed at having to handle a federal matter when they really shouldn't have to. It really begs the question of how Homeland Security resources are allocated - something that still needs to be urgently addressed.


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