September 11, 2020
By Dale L. Wilcox
In case you haven’t heard, there is a concerted effort in this country today to discredit, defund and de-humanize members of law enforcement. While local police have been the primary target as of late, the effort extends even more forcefully against federal immigration officers. This does more than just endanger community safety; it is an existential threat to our Constitution and is setting the stage for potential armed conflict between different branches of law enforcement.
Central to the war against immigration law enforcement has been the effort to portray them as the bad guys. In the last several years, rhetoric from the radical left has depicted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents as the worst kind of Nazis, who cruelly target illegal aliens because of their skin color and lock them up in cages for amusement.
When your enemy is painted as the modern-day Gestapo, they are pure evil and therefore any tactics to stop them are justified. The foot-soldiers on the street have received the message. In addition to protesting and blocking entrances to ICE facilities, the left-wing rage mob has harassed food truck operators for setting up shop outside ICE buildings. Mayors in deep blue cities have tipped off illegal aliens to help them escape ICE raids and deportation.
As they say in infomercials, “But wait, there’s more!” Sanctuary laws prevent ICE agents from taking custody of criminal aliens in the security of a jail facility, forcing them to take the far more dangerous route of going into homes and workplaces. It had been a long-standing protocol that ICE could pick up aliens when they appear in a courthouse on criminal charges. The anti-borders left has now seized upon this practice for its next line of attack.
Prosecutors in two of the largest counties in Massachusetts have sued ICE to outlaw the practice of courthouse arrests. Last week the First Circuit Court of Appeals vacated an injunction that a Massachusetts federal district judge had issued against arrests of aliens by ICE officers in courthouses in the Bay State. While the case for courthouse arrests is rock-solid, the appellate court sent the case back down to the district court to consider an additional argument, and the fight will go on.
The plaintiffs relied on a supposed Massachusetts common law privilege against arrests at courthouses, an argument equivalent to a house built on sand. As the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) wrote in its friend-of-the-court brief in the case, federal law is supreme over state law, not the other way around. Applying a state common law privilege to block ICE arrests at courthouses—a course that might lead to armed confrontation between state and federal officers—would be repugnant to the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.
What would happen if state court officers tried to enforce that supposed privilegeby forcibly preventing ICE officers from entering Massachusetts courthouses, orforcibly preventing ICE officers from taking custody of aliens once inside? Armedconfrontations between state and federal officers, or attempts by each to place theother under arrest, would be the inevitable result.
Against the current backdrop of the rampant lawlessness in our streets, the last thing our nation needs is different branches of law enforcement in armed conflict with each other.
There must be something in the water in Massachusetts, because even those sworn to uphold our nation’s laws at the highest levels are falling short. Newton District Court Judge Shelly Joseph recently lost her bid to dismiss obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges against her. Joseph allegedly helped a twice-deported illegal alien escape her courtroom through a rear door and evade ICE agents who were told to wait in the lobby to take custody.
This is the foundational logic that the left’s view of immigration misses: If a nation has no borders, it is not a nation. If certain laws are not to be enforced, then no laws have legitimacy. As American citizens, we have every right to petition our government to have laws changed. We do not have the right to an a la carte approach to our society, where we obey the laws we like and disregard those we do not.
If you do not like the current immigration laws, contact your representatives who wrote the laws and seek change. Demonizing and obstructing those charged with enforcing the laws is a lazy, unconstitutional path that leads to the kind of chaos that this country can no longer afford.
Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.
Also published at: Dale L. Wilcox, The Left’s War Against ICE is Deeply Wounding Our Nation, American Thinker, September 11, 2020.
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