Nearly four years after Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. government still lacks the commitment and the political will to enforce its immigration laws on a day-to-day basis, immigration specialists and politicians said Friday.
While there are only about 2,000 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to handle interior immigration law enforcement, there are about 700,000 state and local police officers that can help them do that job, said Kris Kobach, a professor at the University of Missouri -- Kansas City School of Law.
Local police officers should be made aware of their inherent legal authority to make immigration arrests if they have probable cause that an individual standing in front of them is present in the country illegally, he said.
Second, local law enforcement agencies should take advantage of a 1996 provision of the law to negotiate agreements with federal officials to be trained to receive the enforcement powers that federal officials have.
Kobach said he was recently dismayed to learn that ICE was intending to scale back the authority so local governments could only apply these enforcement powers in jails.
Third, it would implement departure controls to track who was overstaying their visas and list violators in a national criminal database that any law enforcement officer could access.
"There are many good policy ideas sitting in in-boxes all over the Department of Homeland Security today, but what is missing in many cases, is political will," he said.
But Keynote Speaker Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who has flirted with the idea of running for president, said he believes that the nation is winning the war on illegal immigration.
"We have to be aware that this war on the border was started inside this country by the same radicals who are sabotaging the war in Iraq," he said. "They are communists. They are Anti-American."
Next, Tom Tancredo will be singing, "Better dead then red?"
Give me a break!
It seems that much of the problem is that our leaders are living in a fantasy world. We're not winning the war on illegal immigration; in fact, we have not even begun to acknowledge the problem.