CNN recently posted an article to its website lauding so-called “immigrant rights advocate” Bryan MacCormack for interfering with an attempt by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to arrest two illegal aliens.
In early March, MacCormack, who is the executive director of the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement, was driving two illegal aliens home from a state court appearance in Hudson, New York. He was pulled over by ICE Deportation Officers who were attempting to execute an arrest warrant for his passengers.
Rather than complying with the Deportation Officers’ lawful requests, MacCormack insisted that he was not obligated to surrender his passengers because the officers were not in possession of a judicial arrest warrant, issued by a court. He also asserted that, because he is a U.S. citizen, ICE has no authority to stop him. Eventually ICE officers backed off, in order to ensure the safety of all involved.
According to CNN, “immigration advocates” claim that “ICE warrants aren’t the same as warrants other law enforcement agencies get judges to approve in court,” and “they don’t give agents authority to conduct searches inside homes or vehicles without consent.” The CNN piece falsely implies that MacCormack is a civil rights crusader who sent a powerful message to a government agency trying to overreach its legitimate authority.
But there’s a major problem with CNN’s piece: It’s chock-full of wild attempts to mislead readers.
First off, ICE doesn’t need a judicial warrant to arrest an illegal alien. In, Fong Yue Ting v. United States, the Supreme Court held that deportation is not a punishment, it’s a form of civil restitution that returns an alien to the country where he/she does have authorization to reside. Therefore, an immigration violator does not face deprivation of life, liberty or property during immigration proceedings.
For that reason, as the Court held in Wing Wong v. United States, “the provisions of the Constitution securing the right of trial by jury and prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures and cruel and unusual punishments have no application” to civil immigration enforcement.
CNN is correct that ICE civil arrest warrants are different from other warrants. ICE officers arrest illegal aliens and other immigration violators pursuant to statutory authority set forth in 8 U.S. Code § 1357. That provision sets forth an administrative warrant framework, which readily meets the relatively low due process requirements applicable to foreign nationals wanted for civil violations of our immigration laws. When effectuating criminal arrests, ICE uses the exact same judicial warrant process employed by every other federal agency.
CNN is also correct that ICE arrest warrants don’t actually give agents the authority to conduct searches inside homes or vehicles without consent. But neither do the arrest warrants used by other agencies. There’s a big difference between an arrest warrant and a search warrant, although CNN never bothers to point this out.
ICE does, in fact, have jurisdiction over U.S. citizens breaking the federal laws it is charged with enforcing. That includes citizens who knowingly transport illegal aliens and interfere with federal officers in the performance of official duties.
So, it turns out that CNN’s folk hero is actually just a guy violating federal law. Rather than a win for justice, Mr. MacCormack’s efforts simply undermine the rule of law and public safety. It’s a crying shame that the mainstream media continues to give MacCormack, and others like him who are woefully ignorant of the law, a platform to mislead the public with their nonsense.