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Mon, Sept. 23

Talk of the Town

This past fall, three issues on the ballot related to illegal aliens and one to making English our official language.

In Yavapai County, each garnered from 53,000 to 59,000 voters or from 75 percent to 83 percent giving their approval. Is that a message?

For too long state and local police have believed that anything to do with "illegal" immigration matters was exclusively federal. In 1996, Congress and subsequent court rulings removed that doubt saying state and local law enforcement have the inherent power to enforce immigration laws and provided an avenue for local authorities to follow commonly referred to as section 287(g) training. They have added that with or without the training, full enforcement powers exist (Section 287(g)(10).

What to do? First and foremost we need political will. Given the citizens' statement above, it should be easy. Next, small steps. The Prescott City Council listened and issued a resolution. But this effort, I believe, must include Yavapai County and its other municipalities. To implement the plan I outline below, a meeting with ICE, mayors, council members, supervisors, legislators, congressional representatives, and of course, police and the sheriff is imperative. ICE must step up.

This plan does not imply roundups or sweeps. It goes beyond the "mere" fact of an illegal entry across our porous borders as the only law broken. Literally hundreds of thousands of illegals have serious criminal records. For example, from September 2004 to June 2005, after the Border Patrol's new fingerprint policy went into effect, it identified 102,000 illegals with major criminal records at entry. Thousands more are fugitives. Those who are seeking employment no doubt have obtained false ID and have lied in filling out the I-9 Form. False ID in this population is rampant. The U.S. previously deported many of them, and just their presence where they stand is a felony.

One available tool for law enforcement when ID is in question is portable, wireless digital fingerprinting (Live Scan). It yields results in minutes; a huge asset when dealing with DUI's, unlicensed drivers or those with questionable ID.

Officers can determine illegal immigration status and a criminal record quickly. If detention is appropriate, the suspect goes before a camera for video teleconferencing with an ICE officer who does the actual processing (paper work); then orders a contract prisoner transportation service for pickup. This, of course, requires cooperation from ICE.

This doable procedure, will save valuable officer time, and detention expense.

Law Enforcement Support Center

"BICE makes its investigative expertise more widely available by providing support to state and local law enforcement through the LESC located in Burlington, Vt. The center's primary mission is to help local law enforcement agencies determine if a person they have contact with, or have in custody, is in fact an illegal, criminal, or fugitive alien. The LESC provides an around-the-clock link between federal, state, and local officers and the immigration databases maintained now by BICE.

"When a law enforcement officer encounters an alien, LESC personnel are able to provide that officer with vital information and guidance, and if necessary, place the officer in contact with a BICE immigration officer in the field."

All well and good, but by adding video teleconferencing and a few more staff for processing, rural communities all across the nation could benefit. This is after all, the Twenty-First Century.

The tri-cities and Yavapai County could bring about what Congress expected to occur in 1996, full participation. Waiting for the commission of crime, however, is not acceptable. Jesus Peralta proved that waiting could be fatal.

(Bob Park is founder of Veterans for Secure Borders.)

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