Activist Judges Stymie Local Immigration Enforcement, Critics Charge

Kevin Mooney | Staff Writer | Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Activist Judges Stymie Local Immigration Enforcement, Critics Charge

( - The so-called "comprehensive approach" to immigration reform that co-joins stepped-up border security with legal and financial benefits for illegal aliens is untenable, some policy analysts suspect, because federal judges are likely to strike down enforcement measures while leaving "amnesty" provisions intact.

With public opinion heavily weighted against the distribution of social services and government benefits to illegal aliens, the proponents of lax immigration policies have made adept use of the judicial branch to advance their agenda, Steve Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), told Cybercast News Service.

The lobbying effort pushing "comprehensive reform" is in many respects a ruse set up to entice law enforcement advocates with reforms that would ultimately be short circuited, he said. This unsettling reality was demonstrated most recently when a work-site enforcement rule fell prey to U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer in California, said Camarota.

A directive from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requiring employers to follow up on Social Security discrepancies was discontinued as a result of the preliminary injunction by the judge. ( )

Camarota views Breyer's ruling as part of a larger judicial juggernaut that has derailed attempts to rein in illegal immigration on the local, state and federal level.

Citizen activists like Marianne Davies of Pennsylvania are equally mindful of the judiciary's apparently permissive posture toward illegal immigration.

Although the public strongly supports local ordinances, such as Hazelton, Pa.'s Illegal Immigration Relief Act, well-financed ethnic lobbying groups and legal defense funds still have a leg up thanks to the courts, said Davies. The law inspired similar moves across the country in places like Riverside, N.J., and Farmers Branch, Texas.

Without exception, the ordinances ran into legal obstruction.

In September, U.S. District Judge James Munley ruled against Hazelton, while township officials in Riverside reluctantly concluded they could no longer absorb the legal costs connected with further defense of their own ordinance. The voter-approved ordinance in Dallas was also voided by a federal judge in May.

In the Hazleton decision, the judge interpreted the U.S. Constitution to include rights for illegal aliens, a position that is consistent with thinking of ethnic lobbying groups and legal defense funds, Davies said.

In anticipation of losing out to public opinion, powerful special interests, such as the National Council on La Raza (NCLR), have successfully interjected themselves into the judicial confirmation process where they lobby for activist judges, she added.

Throughout the 1990s, the NCLR was a persistent advocate of federal judges nominated by President Bill Clinton, congressional records show. Munley, the judge who ruled against Hazelton, was a Clinton appointee, as was Judge Sam Lindsay, who ruled against the Dallas ordinance.

"Their strategy is to get their people into the highest positions as possible," Davies said. "They certainly do this with judges."

Although La Raza bills itself as civil rights group, it was really formed for the purpose of advancing interests that closely correspond with the goals and objectives of the Mexican government, Davies contends.

However, legal immigrants who are opposed to amnesty are becoming better organized and are more aware of public policy that rewards illicit behavior, she continued.

"You Don't Speak for Me" (YDSFM) came together in May 2006 in response to the organized marches and protests illegal aliens held across the country demanding full citizenship," Davies told Cybercast News Service in an interview.

"The new advocacy group places a premium on national sovereignty, opposes amnesty for illegals and favors cultural cohesion in sharp contrast to La Raza," she said.

"We seek to counter a lot of the myths La Raza has been able to put out there in the media because it has such a large war chest of funds," said Davies, who is now spokesperson for YDSFM in Pennsylvania.

"They've very skillfully manipulated the media into believing all Hispanics have this monolithic view on immigration in the U.S., when in reality they do not," she added.

Although the NCLR has successfully coordinated its efforts against local ordinances in close concert with the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund (PRLDF), these groups have begun to overplay their hand, said Davies.

She sees a large and growing appetite for enforcement emerging across party lines and at the grassroots.

Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican Pennsylvania state representative from the 12th district, concurred with that assessment and sees momentum building in favor of crackdowns against criminal aliens that can serve as a platform for genuine, far-reaching immigration reform, the judiciary notwithstanding.

"The grassroots numbers will ultimately give us the power to overcome the judicial activism of the courts," he said.

"When the day ends, the courts will move in our direction because the American people will not allow these decisions to stand. Supermajorities in both parties want this issue of illegal immigration forcefully addressed and resolved," Metcalfe added.

Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell faults the federal government for a lax response to illegal immigration that impacts state and local officials.

For this reason he is ardently supportive of the federal-partnership made possible through the 287(g) program. "Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides the legal authority for state and local enforcement to investigate, detain, and arrest aliens on civil and crimi\-nal grounds," according to the Heritage Foundation.

Until the federal government steps in and provides the Immigration and Customs and Enforcement Agency (ICE) with adequate funding and support, it will be necessary for law enforcement agents operating at the state and local level to assume an active role in helping to enforce the law against illegal aliens, said McDonnell.

The Clear Act (H.R. 3494), recently introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is a huge step in the right direction, McDonnell said. The legislation will provide state agents with greater latitude to take decisive action where criminal aliens are concerned, he said.

Moreover, at a time when illegal immigration is intermixing with organized crime, drug trafficking, and homeland security threats, the Clear Act will put police officers in a stronger position to trigger federal action, he said.

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