Strikingly Different Mindsets on Handling Illegal Immigration

Recently, a couple articles on illegal immigration really caught my eye and offered a stark contrast between how different parts of the country view the issue. Some people won’t do the work required to uphold the law and believe it’s someone else’s job. Others are willing to enforce the law and have the guts to stand up for the U.S. when its resources and rights are being violated.

The first story comes from the Washington Times. In an article titled “Arlington to Ignore Law Aimed at Illegals,” we read that a new Virginia law designed to be a weapon to help combat gangs and terrorism is set to take place this summer. The new law “permits local police to arrest any illegal immigrant who previously had been convicted of a felony and departed.” (Currently, police investigating a crime are prohibited from forcibly holding an illegal immigrant while awaiting the arrival of an agent from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).)

How are the police of Arlington County — which is located in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area — going to use this new tool to fight crime and terrorism? They’re not. Instead, they are going to stick with their old way of dealing with illegal immigrants, which is even more lax than the current Virginia policy. According to the Times, the current Arlington County policy “also discourages officers from checking a suspect’s immigration status, despite evidence that illegal aliens are involved in the region’s crime gangs and terrorist cells.” (The Times also notes that Arlington is the only Northern Virginia jurisdiction that “does not check the immigration status of residents receiving tax-funded county rent subsidies — a breach that an ICE official said opens the door to terrorists.”)

Why won’t Arlington handle the important issue of illegal immigration? Well, Arlington County Board Chairman Barbara Favola said, “It isn’t my job.” And the police department’s policy states:

    “The enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws is a primary responsibility of the federal government. Accordingly, the Arlington County Police Department shall not undertake immigration-related investigations and shall not routinely inquire into the immigration status of persons encountered during police operations.

    “This prohibition does not preclude the department from cooperating with federal immigration officials when requested, or from notifying those officials in serious situations where a potential threat to the public is perceived.”

Contrast this let-somebody-else-do-it-and-look-the-other-way policy with how an Idaho county commissioner has decided to handle the illegal immigration situation in his community.

According to the Associated Press, Canyon Country Commissioner Robert Vasquez sent a bill to the Mexican government for more than $2 million for “services provided to illegal immigrants.”

Mr. Vasquez believes that because Idaho — Canyon County in particular — has been enforcing the law has they should be, their budget should not be negatively impacted. So, Mexico is being billed more than $1.4 million for the costs of jailing illegal immigrants over the last two years and $575,000 for medical care during that same time. Commissioner Vasquez says he’s not just concerned about his county’s budget. “He believes illegal immigrants increase disease and crime rates in Idaho.”

The AP quotes Vasquez saying, “By federal law, we’re required to provide them services. So I thought . . . then perhaps we ought to bill the nation of origin.”