Sanctuary policies enacted by leftists have hampered law enforcement efforts for years, making it difficult for illegal aliens to be deported after they commit crimes.
But a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement program could serve as a path around the obstacle, and allow police to work more closely with ICE.
In many liberal areas of the country, local policies have been enacted that limit the actions police can take when they encounter an illegal immigrant. Those rules are meant to make it difficult for officers to cooperate with ICE, creating “sanctuaries” for lawbreakers staying in America illegally.
That’s where the Warrant Service Officer program comes in. The new federal system basically signs up police officers to serve warrants as deputies of ICE, and to be seen as federal officers for this limited role.
“ICE will conduct a background investigation on all nominated candidates, who will receive federal credentials that reflect their authority once training is completed. The WSO process will be supervised and directed by ICE,” an ICE news release announcing the program explained.
“Once a WSO officer serves an administrative warrant and executes an arrest on behalf of ICE, the agency has 48 hours to conduct a transfer of custody unless an Intergovernmental Service Agreement exists,” the agency continued.
Because participants in the WSO program are acting as deputies of ICE using their federal-level credentials during the process, many local policies that prevent cops from detaining illegal aliens can be avoided. The new structure seems purposely designed to counteract “sanctuary” rules.
As the news release put it:
“The new procedure was prompted by requests from the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Major County Sheriffs of America, which asked for a program limited in scope that would allow jurisdictions prohibited from honoring immigration detainers to cooperate with ICE.”
In the release, ICE acting Director Matthew Albence explained why the program is necessary.
“Policies that limit cooperation with ICE undermine public safety, prevent the agency from executing its federally mandated mission and increase the risks for officers forced to make at-large arrests in unsecure locations,” he said.
“The [Warrant Service Officer] program will protect communities from criminal aliens who threaten vulnerable populations with violence, drugs and gang activity by allowing partner jurisdictions the flexibility to make immigration arrests in their jail or correctional facility,” Albence added.
But as might be expected, not everyone is thrilled with the plan. The blurring of lines between federal and local law enforcement — and the states’ rights questions that come with it — is sure to ruffle libertarian feathers.
And according to The Hill, the ACLU has already spoken out against it.
“The agency explicitly aims to subvert the will of local communities that have passed ordinances to prevent exactly this kind of cooperation between police and ICE,” Lorella Praeli of the ACLU stated, The Hill reported.
But at this point, it appears that some local communities have embraced the program. An inaugural WSO ceremony in Pinellas County, Florida, was attended by Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida, and Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez.
“This has nothing to do with any law enforcement officer going out in the street and asking someone for their immigration status or conducting an immigration investigation,” Gualtieri told WFTS-TV in Tampa.
“The majority of the people we are going to be dealing with in this program come [to the U.S] to commit crime,” Judd said.
Of course, the sanctuary city fight is far from over. There could still be legal challenges to this new program, and far-left localities could also try to order officers not to participate as WSOs.
For now, however, it looks like the Trump administration has pulled off a smart win against those who want to shrug off the illegal immigration problem — and that sure looks like a win for American citizens as well.