Viewpoints

SLO County police say they won’t enforce immigration laws. That’s outrageous.

Ed Bogusch
Ed Bogusch

I read The Tribune article “SLO County law enforcement: ‘Nothing’s changed’ despite Trump’s immigration orders,” and I’m outraged.

The headline says it all. San Luis Obispo County law enforcement officials are, in effect, saying to President Donald Trump and his supporters, “To heck with you!” They are openly saying to all Americans, “We’re not interested” in enforcing immigration laws and “want no part in ramped-up immigration enforcement.”

Sheriff Ian Parkinson, Lt. Ty Lewis and Capt. Jeff Smith, how can you be interested in “protecting residents” and “serving the people in our community” if you refuse to detain criminals who are unlawfully in our country?

Why are you so hellbent on “building trust” with undocumented immigrants but averse to “building trust” with legal residents?

We, the people, are not asking you to “act as immigration officers.” You don’t have to be an immigration officer to uphold the rule of law. We are asking — no, demanding — that you uphold the laws of our country. You don’t get to hide behind a state law that runs contrary to federal laws. I thought Barack Obama’s lawsuit against Arizona established that, even though Arizona simply tried to mirror federal laws in terms of immigration enforcement.

This is another instance where elected and appointed leaders in California are engaging in de facto secession from the United States. If you want to secede, get on with it! But do it with the approval of a majority of the citizens of California.

The last time I checked, we still have a Fourth Amendment to our Constitution that provides Americans the right to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects [which] shall not be violated.” I, for one, do not feel secure when immigrants are allowed to enter our country illegally, commit crimes and are protected from deportation.

We aren’t asking local law enforcement to act as immigration officers. But we do expect them to uphold the rule of law.

Why is it that “officers don’t ask about residents’ citizenship when responding to calls”? If a resident uses a gun to protect himself, are officers not allowed to ask whether he has a legal permit to own that gun? In the course of any investigation of a crime, why is it not allowed to gather all the facts, and then act upon those facts according to existing laws, where the U.S. Constitution is the highest law of the land?

Why is it “illegal for state and local law enforcement to detain anyone solely for immigration purposes,” but not illegal to detain anyone solely for any other federal interest? That smacks as a blatant discriminatory practice. One class of criminals gets special treatment, while the other does not.

Let’s say I were a person on the FBI’s Most Wanted list and I committed a petty crime in San Luis Obispo County. Would you allow me to post, say, a $1,000 bond and then release me back into the community? There are two possible options: (A) You would allow me to go free or (B) You would hold me for the FBI. If you choose option A, you’re an utter fool.

So, in the case of an undocumented immigrant, what’s the difference? I suppose there’s a “paperwork” difference between an ICE detainer request versus an FBI warrant. But the truth is, in both cases, the feds want me. And it’s your duty to make sure they get me.

Or let’s say I’m among a group of 1,000 people in San Luis Obispo County wanted by the feds (for various reasons). Are you going to offer all of us “sanctuary” because if you didn’t, we wouldn’t be willing to report crimes out of “fear” that we would be detained and incarcerated? Of course you won’t.

The case of Francisco Javier Chavez illustrates the lunacy of our local law enforcement officials. He was an undocumented immigrant who assaulted a 2-year-old girl. He was released after posting bail, although ICE had issued a detainer request. Then he fled back to Mexico. No justice has been obtained for that 2-year-old or her parents. What a shame and embarrassment for this county.

The number of undocumented people arrested for violent crimes in San Luis Obispo County is “pretty low,” Parkinson said. So what? By the way, how many have been arrested for nonviolent crimes? Where’s that statistic? And what has happened to these criminals if they aren’t serving jail time? Does anyone think the family of that little girl cares if the number is “pretty low”?

The use of “undocumented immigrants” is a farce. They are indeed documented, whether it be an employment record, a school record, a social security card, a driver’s license, welfare payment, etc. They are not “undocumented” immigrants; they are illegal immigrants. I’m sure most are decent, hardworking folks. Nevertheless, they are here illegally. So step one is to enforce our border and regain our national sovereignty. Once that’s accomplished, we can have a robust debate about whether to enhance our guest worker program to ensure we have enough legal immigrants to fulfill our needs.

We need a border wall for the same reason we install fencing around our property lines and lock our doors and windows. We want to invite people into our country in the same way we invite people into our homes. Otherwise, they are criminals and need to be treated as such, especially if they commit any other crimes.

At least the good news is we now have a president who wants to enforce existing immigration laws and secure our border to protect us from terrorists, drug dealers and others wanting to enter our country illegally. This, despite San Luis Obispo County law enforcement officials who, if they continue on their current course, will have to be replaced. The sooner, the better.

Ed Bogusch is a writer and a retired business analyst and purchasing manager for Lockheed Martin. He lives in Atascadero.

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