Tom Homan: Lawmakers want California to ignore immigration laws, as if it were an independent nation
Driven by Trump Derangement Syndrome, the Democratic-controlled far-left California Legislature is determined to stop the Trump administration from enforcing immigration laws enacted by Congress and past presidents. By doing this, the Legislature is effectively making the absurd claim that it has the power to ignore federal law.
The California Legislature’s latest effort would eventually ban the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) from housing illegal immigrants in privately operated prisons in California.
Such a ban is a dangerous and harmful move that wouldn’t succeed in stopping the detention of illegal immigrants. It would simply raise detention costs for U.S. taxpayers and result in illegal immigrants being held under worse conditions. So instead of helping illegal immigrants – as California Democrats claim they want to do – their legislation would actually hurt the migrants.
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The California State Assembly gave legislation imposing the ban on housing illegal immigrants in private prisons final legislative approval last week. It sent the measure to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has voiced support for phasing out the use of private prisons. He has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto the bill.
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The legislation would bar the state from signing or renewing a contract with a private prison starting in 2020. In would also bar the state from housing any prisoner in a private for-profit detention facility starting in 2028.
To show you how blatantly partisan this legislation is, the California Legislature never took action to stop the detention of illegal immigrants in private prisons when Democratic President Barack Obama was in office. Yet under the Obama administration, ICE was detaining illegal immigrants in private prisons in exactly the same manner as is occurring today under the Trump administration.
In fact, in 2012 alone ICE arrested and removed 409,000 illegal immigrants from the U.S. – a record. And the Obama administration approved adding 3,000 family detention beds and the so- called “cages” to hold detainees.
Yet Democrats didn’t try to stop the Obama administration’s enforcement of our immigration laws. That’s because the Democrats aren’t really concerned with protecting illegal immigrants. Their real focus is scoring political points against Trump to prevent his reelection, as the Democratic Party moves ever leftward and embraces the radical concept of open borders that puts our national security at grave risk.
If federal immigration laws become optional, then why not make all federal laws optional? This is a frightening concept that would make all laws meaningless and lead to chaos and anarchy.
If I was still the ICE director and California shut down the detention of illegal immigrants in private prisons I would immediately move all detainees out of the state and detain them elsewhere. Unfortunately, this would move them away from their families and community support. It would also move them away from a very structured immigration advocacy and immigration attorney network.
Under federal law, 72 percent of current ICE detainees are held because Congress mandates it. So if ICE officers simply let them go, the law enforcement officers would become lawbreakers.
The other 28 percent of detains are being held because releasing them would threaten public safety or because they are flight risks.
So if California bars ICE from detaining illegal immigrants there, ICE will have no choice but to detain them in other states.
The illegal immigrants would most likely be housed in county jails in other states that have much lower detention standards than the contracted privately operated ICE detention facilities. This would be necessary because ICE detention centers across the county are near capacity.
And it’s important to note that there are no ICE family detention facilities in California. So no children are being held.
The privately operated ICE detention facilities provide the highest level of safe, secure and humane quality care of any jails and prison in the U.S. – much higher than any local jail or state prison in California.
These ICE detention facilities operate pursuant to and in compliance with strict governmental standards, national accreditation and certification standards, medical accreditation agency standards, and meet the standards of educational agencies as well.
When I was the ICE director, I can tell you that some of our most expensive detained beds were in facilities that ICE owned. Using outside contractors that run detention facilities as their core business function not only saves millions dollars in taxpayer funds – it increases the quality of care that those being detained receive.
There are a number of statistics that prove detainees are much better off in the ICE facilities the California Legislature wants to close. But let’s look at just one statistic, dealing with the number of deaths of people in custody.
All detention facilities want to hold deaths to the lowest possible number, of course. But according to the Justice Department, in state prisons there is an average death rate 256 out of each 100,000 inmates. The death rate in federal prisons is 225 out of 100,000 inmates. But at ICE detention facilities, the death rate is less than three out of each 100,000 inmates – dramatically lower than any other jails and prisons.
So moving illegal immigrants out of ICE facilities to local jails isn’t doing them any favors. It is putting them in worse conditions.
In addition, almost 90 percent of illegal immigrants arrested by ICE in the interior of the U.S. are either convicted criminals or are being held on pending criminal charges the go beyond violating immigration laws.
If you simply look at the current recidivism rates, about half of criminals will re-offend within a year and as many as 75 percent will re-offend within five years.
This means that many of the illegal immigrants in ICE custody are in fact criminals and pose a danger to our communities if released.
As a result, the privately run detention facilities where ICE houses these detainees help to keep our communities safe and literally save lives. The bill passed by the California Legislature also bars the U.S. Marshals Service from detaining prisoners in privately run detention facilities in California. The people arrested by the Marshals Service include some of e worst criminals and public safety threats in the world.
If ICE and the Marshals Service simply violated federal law and released all the people they are holding in California you can be sure that tragedy would follow, as innocent Californians became crime victims.
But despite Democratic attempts to make our immigration laws meaningless, ICE is not going to stop carrying out its congressionally mandated duty to arrest illegal immigrants.
Let me state what we were all taught in elementary school: Congress and the president enact federal laws. Federal agencies, state legislatures and individuals do not. So it’s hypocritical and silly for Democrats to blame ICE for enforcing laws passed by Congress and signed by presidents.
It federal immigration laws become optional, then why not make all federal laws optional? This is a frightening concept that would make all laws meaningless and lead to chaos and anarchy. For this reason, whether you are a Democrat or Republican, whether you are a Trump supporter or opponent, you should oppose the effort by Democrats in California and nationally to turn a blind eye to enforcement of our immigration laws.
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I assure that if Congress and the president enacted new immigration laws, ICE officers would follow those laws. But blaming police officers for giving you a speeding ticket, blaming the Internal Revenue Service for collecting your taxes, or blaming and demonizing ICE officers for enforcing immigration laws makes no sense.
The job of ICE officers is to enforce the law as it exists, not to ignore the law. President Trump has the same job, and supports the dedicated men and women at ICE who are faithfully carrying out their duty to serve the American people.
Instead of attacking ICE and President Trump, the California Legislature and anyone else opposed to current immigration laws should ask Congress to change the laws. Open borders advocates are free to run for the U.S. House and Senate and for president, and work to change the law themselves.
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But until the law changes, federal law enforcement agencies have to enforce the law.
California lawmakers would do well to remember that California is part of the United States. Unless the state secedes and becomes an independent nation, it has to obey the same laws as the rest of our country.
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