Why ICE must not be abol­ished

Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment shields the na­tion from harm

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - By Mar­sha Black­burn

Kate Steinle was shot and killed on a San Fran­cisco pier three years ago this month. Her death came at the hands of an il­le­gal alien who had been pre­vi­ously de­ported five times and was a con­victed felon. It also ig­nited a na­tional dis­cus­sion about sanc­tu­ary city poli­cies that is still go­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, Democrats’ new pro­posal to abol­ish the depart­ment of Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment (ICE) is mov­ing the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate in an un­healthy di­rec­tion.

Sanc­tu­ary cities threaten pub­lic safety, cost tax­pay­ers money and en­cour­age more il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. How­ever, the con­ver­sa­tion has moved be­yond cities, as states are now declar­ing them­selves sanc­tu­ar­ies that will not com­ply with fed­eral law. I was pleased that the Ten­nessee state leg­is­la­ture re­cently passed a bill that be­came law to ban sanc­tu­ary poli­cies.

En­cour­ag­ing le­gal im­mi­gra­tion is fairer to those mi­grants who do fol­low our laws and it de­ters il­le­gal en­try if there is no false hope of amnesty. There was an av­er­age of over 490,000 ap­pre­hen­sions along our south­west bor­der per year be­tween FY2013 and FY2017 ac­cord­ing to Cus­toms and Bor­der Pa­trol. We need more in­te­rior en­force­ment, not less.

Democrats’ re­cent pro­posal to abol­ish ICE is not a ra­tio­nal po­si­tion by any ob­jec­tive stan­dard. ICE’s mis­sion “fo­cuses on smart im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment, pre­vent­ing ter­ror­ism and com­bat­ting the il­le­gal move­ment of peo­ple and trade.” They form part of the “Thin Blue Line” that made over 4,800 gang re­lated ar­rests in FY2017 while

pro­tect­ing Ten­nesseans from groups such as MS-13. ICE is also “one of the pri­mary agen­cies re­spon­si­ble for com­bat­ting hu­man traf­fick­ing,” which in­volves the ex­ploita­tion of chil­dren un­der the age of 18.

In FY2016, ICE made 1,952 hu­man traf­fick­ing ar­rests and as­sisted over 400 vic­tims. Pres­i­dent Trump re­cently signed leg­is­la­tion I helped lead, which would al­low states and vic­tims to go af­ter on­line sex traf­fick­ing sites such as Back­page. In Novem­ber, the Ten­nessee Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion broke up a sex traf­fick­ing ring in Brent­wood that re­sulted in 22 per­sons be­ing in­dicted. Abol­ish­ing ICE would only place more Ten­nessee chil­dren in harm’s way.

ICE agents should be com­mended for their hard work at a time when the il­le­gal alien pop­u­la­tion in the U.S. is es­ti­mated to be ap­prox­i­mately 12 mil­lion per­sons. In­stead, they have been the sub­ject of in­tense “Oc­cupy ICE” protests and even had an of­fice van­dal­ized in Al­bany, New York. On Wed­nes­day, 100 “rowdy” ICE pro­tes­tors sur­rounded ICE of­fi­cials in­side a small room at the City County Build­ing in Knoxville. ICE was meet­ing with the Knox County Sher­iff’s Of­fice to chart re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for the Sher­iff’s of­fice un­der the 287(g) pro­gram

— which al­lows state and lo­cal law en­force­ment of­fi­cers to help en­force fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion laws.

This pro­gram is vi­tal to suc­cess­ful in­te­rior en­force­ment. How­ever, an ICE spokesman was rou­tinely in­ter­rupted dur­ing the meet­ing by shouts from pro­tes­tors who were car­ry­ing signs which said “shame,” “re­sist” and “End287(g).” It was re­ported that the meet­ing quickly ended with only sev­eral ques­tions be­ing an­swered.

The ac­tions of these pro­tes­tors are en­tirely out of line and in­ap­pro­pri­ate. First, the lack of ci­vil­ity shocks the con­science. Their ac­tions did noth­ing to ad­vance a mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion and are be­neath the ap­pro­pri­ate level of tact one would ex­pect at such a meet­ing. More­over, as the van­dal­ism in Al­bany re­veals, there is a dis­turb­ing un­der­cur­rent of rage to the ICE protests. Pro­tes­tors are walk­ing a slip­pery slope be­tween le­git­i­mate de­bate and in­ex­cus­able vi­o­lence. Their ac­tions ap­pear aimed at hav­ing a chill­ing ef­fect on speech and sti­fling dis­sent. Our law en­force­ment of­fi­cers are the last peo­ple de­serv­ing of such treat­ment as it makes their job even more dan­ger­ous.

Sec­ond, this is part of a dis­turb­ing trend in the Demo­cratic party to ad­vo­cate for po­si­tions or take ac­tion that ef­fec­tively nul­li­fies our na­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion laws. Pres­i­dent Obama’s ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion, through DACA and DAPA, cir­cum­vented Congress by shield­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants from pros­e­cu­tion and also pro­vided them work per­mits. Mr. Obama did this de­spite say­ing on more than 20 oc­ca­sions that he didn’t have the author­ity uni­lat­er­ally change our im­mi­gra­tion laws. Such tac­tics beg the ques­tion, if you can ig­nore one law, can you ig­nore oth­ers?

The false hope of amnesty only serves as a mag­net to en­cour­age more peo­ple to il­le­gally cross our south­ern bor­der. This makes Amer­ica less safe and it is a dan­ger­ous jour­ney for many of the chil­dren who are vic­tim­ized by traf­fick­ers along the way. There­fore, I would re­spect­fully sub­mit to my Demo­cratic col­leagues that amnesty is not a com­pas­sion­ate so­lu­tion. In fact, it’s just the op­po­site.

Amer­ica has al­ways been a na­tion of laws. Our sys­tem of govern­ment has thrived be­cause sep­a­rate but equal branches are re­spon­si­ble for writ­ing, en­forc­ing and in­ter­pret­ing our laws. When one branch fails to up­hold its re­spon­si­bil­ity, it cracks the foun­da­tion of our democ­racy. Abol­ish­ing ICE would greatly weaken the ex­ec­u­tive branch’s abil­ity to carry out in­te­rior en­force­ment and jeop­ar­dize the safety of Amer­i­cans ev­ery­where.

ILLUSTRATION BY GREG GROESCH

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