(The second in an on-going series of articles from a police officer actively serving in a sanctuary county outside Washington, D.C.)
The greatest challenge law enforcement faces when dealing with illegal immigrants, especially in a sanctuary jurisdiction, is not one of resources. The D.C. metropolitan area is the seat of our government, and as a result, our cups runneth over with resources. The problem is one of public perception fueled by misinformation and a healthy dose of ad misericordiam, “fake news”. In other words, the desire to stop illegal immigration is inherently inhumane and racist, therefore those in favor of it, or worse, in charge of enforcing it, are labeled jackbooted storm troopers.
I’ve been called a “Nazi” by an illegal immigrant, more than once which is an odd accusation to level at someone whose grandfather’s last name appears in concentration camp prisoner ledgers. However, we do find ourselves continuously under attack, baselessly accused of bigotry and xenophobia.
A bit about the author, then. I was not born in the United States, nor was I born an American citizen. I grew up in a multilingual and multicultural household and went to international schools. I speak several languages, and to several family members, that is not English. My friends came from everywhere in the world, and nobody cared where anyone was from. My parents would not have tolerated anything else, and the idea that a person should be judged on their merits alone is one I subscribe to, to this day. Not to veer too far off topic, but if you are truly a racist police officer and you bring that stuff to work, you are going to have a very painful (and probably short) career with very little backup.
With all that in mind, I absolutely empathize with the desire to leave the Third World and go somewhere better. Clearly, they would not endure what they endure otherwise. Let me give you an idea of the average living conditions of an illegal immigrant, as I’ve encountered them. If it’s a one- or two-bedroom apartment, eight people seems to be the magic number. In a house, most of which are small Cape Cod style homes, (generally vermin-infested) I’ve encountered up to twenty.
Generally, every morning these men drive (usually without licenses) to a local 7-11 or Home Depot and wait for work. The work is typically hard labor, the pay isn’t in line with what is legally required, and obviously the benefits are non-existent. They send whatever money they don’t need to survive back home to their families. On top of this, they’re victimized by Central American gangs, who in spite of what local politicians like to claim, have established a very strong foothold in the U.S. – and are also regularly part of catch-and-release.
Taking into account all the variables above, one can draw a very clear comparison to immigration from a certain boot-shaped European country, both pre- and post-World War II, and the organized crime it was unfairly famous for. It’s been so romanticized by Hollywood that it’s easy to forget there is a very real price paid when organized crime groups are allowed to operate with impunity. Picture being a member of MS-13 in a sanctuary jurisdiction. I don’t imagine it is much different than being a “made man” in 1970s Brooklyn, minus the Brioni suit.
Worst case scenario, you’re arrested for something and inconvenienced for a few hours. You certainly won’t be reported to ICE even if you are a known gang member. In fact, you’re going to be released with a court date issued to a person who doesn’t exist (i.e. whichever ID you provided) at an address you may or may not have ever lived at. If there’s an active ICE detainer request, we won’t hold you for it, don’t worry. When your court date arrives and you fail to appear, a bench warrant for a person who doesn’t exist will be issued – and so spins the endless wheel of nonsense.
If you think I’m kidding, let me briefly take you back to a night when I stopped a car for DUI. All five occupants had no physical identification, and all five identified themselves to me as “Jose Rivas” born on 01-01-1971. I don’t know where any of them are now, but I do know the Jose Rivas I arrested and charged with DUI still has a 17-year-old bench warrant.
I suppose we could find him if we were permitted to fingerprint arrestees for incarcerable traffic offenses. That is, if the powers-that-be wanted us to find him.