Monday, January 08, 2007

Catch and Release

As I've noted here before, it is not unusual for an undocumented immigrant to apprehended several times in the course of their northward journey. New Justice Department data indicate that some undocumented have been arrested up to six times, and often their offences are much more serious that crossing the border. The charges, which ranged from traffic violations to weapons and drug charges, suggests that although law enforcement is effectively apprehending immigrants who have violated the law, the seriously dysfunctional immigration system has no consistent way of managing them. The article explains that lack of jail space is part of the problem:
For years, the government was forced to release thousands of illegal immigrants who were caught in the United States because of not enough jail space and other resources. But last fall, with immigration as a key election-year priority, Homeland Security declared it would detain 99 percent of non-Mexican illegal immigrants until they could be returned to their home nations. The policy generally does not apply to Mexicans, who are almost immediately returned to Mexico after being stopped by Border Patrol agents.
Interestingly, the Justice Department audit only examined data on immigrants who were arrested and released by local and state authorities before they could be turned over to Homeland Security to be detained or deported.

This leaves me wondering what benefit will come of local jurisdictions who are currently receiving federal training so they can attempt to apprehend undocumented residents in their communities? What benefit can it possibly serve to have local police arresting people who will most likely be released in any event?

For details on the ICE program to train local law enforcement, see this post from a few months ago.

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