D.C. to Illegal Immigrants: Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell – Don’t Worry

The post 9/11 world dictates that there are very few public places in Washington, D.C. where lawfully abiding residents and commuters are not discretely monitored, politely questioned, or upon entering buildings, physically searched. But while we accept scrutiny in order to enhance public safety, illegal aliens -- those who have broken U.S. laws and whose unknown motives may deserve the most scrutiny -- enjoy the least, thanks to a longstanding sanctuary policy reinforced this week.

Letting the powerful illegal alien lobbies know that he’s looking out for their best interests, Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has signed an executive order formalizing the existing “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy which prohibits police from inquiring about the immigration status of people they arrest or reporting that status to federal authorities.

The mayor claims that D.C. police are not in the business of enforcing federal immigration laws. Does that mean his officers won’t pursue bank robbers or kidnappers if they come in contact with perpetrators of crimes typically handled by federal agencies?

If any city in America has a history of working closely with their federal partners, it’s Washington, D.C. The sanctuary policy is not about jurisdiction, it’s about defying immigration enforcement with great fanfare to whip up political support with a growing Hispanic community.

Police are authorized and have a responsibility to enforce all laws, unless of course they’re specifically told by their local jurisdiction not to. Asking about immigration status after lawful conduct and reasonable suspicion doesn’t transform any police officer into an ICE agent, it simply allows that officer to conduct a basic precept of law enforcement -- don’t catch and release lawbreakers and jeopardize public safety.

Tonight, somewhere in Washington, D.C., an officer will probably encounter a speeding vehicle and begin a lawful traffic stop asking for license, registration and proof of insurance -- a universal verification process that is the same for everyone. And that vehicle might be loaded with 9 people who speak no English, have no driver’s licenses, no vehicle registration, no auto insurance, no social security numbers and maybe only Mexican consular cards or Gold’s Gym Cards. At that point common sense might suggest that asking about immigration status is warranted. But Mayor Gray thinks that D.C. residents will be better off if the officer ignores the obvious and just says “have a nice day” or preferably, ’que tenga un buen días.”

And the residents of Washington, D.C. -- sharing their space already with 35,000 illegal aliens – won’t be having a nice day.

Sanctuary city policies not only let the existing illegal aliens know they have no worries, but are also welcome mats to thousands more. Mayor Gray’s job is to allocate limited community resources to legal residents, not advertise his city as a safe haven and encourage thousands of additional illegal aliens to come in and drain finite services.

Washington, D.C. needs true sanctuary for law-abiding citizens protecting them from the lawbreakers and from the politicians who promote those policies.

While the rest of the country appears to be moving from a sanctuary mentality to a fix-it mentality, the nation’s capital remains dug in, a pocket of resistance and Mayor Gray seems oblivious to the cost and impact his actions have on health care, safety, lowered education, incarceration and quality of life. Sanctuary cities are dangerous, costly, and counter-productive to reducing illegal immigration.

President Andrew Johnson may have had it right when he described Washington, D.C. as, “12 square miles bordered by reality."

Bob Dane is the communications director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.