Patterico's Pontifications

3/11/2007

Jails Still Checking Only a Fraction of Inmates for Immigration Status

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General,Immigration — Patterico @ 12:03 am



Last year Michael Hiltzik and I had a little debate about the City of Costa Mesa’s plan to check the immigration status of arrestees in Costa Mesa jails. Hiltzik said it wouldn’t do anything; inmates in jail already have their immigration status checked. I said he was wrong, and argued that only a small percentage of arrestees are checked.

Who was right? Well, why do you think I’m bringing it up?

The L.A. Times reported yesterday:

A spot check by federal agents has identified 59 street gang members in Southern California jails who are illegal immigrants subject to deportation, sparking a debate about the role of border enforcement in the region’s battle against violent gangs.

And guess what? We’re still checking only a fraction of the arrestees in L.A. County — just as I said last year. The article states:

The Times reported last month that an increase in screeners allowed authorities to question nearly 10,000 of the 170,000 inmates who went through county jails last year about their immigration status.

10,000 of 170,000. That about 6%, if you’re keeping score. If we checked all of them, we’d get about 17 times as many.

The number red-flagged — those who face possible deportation once they serve their sentences — went from 3,050 in 2005 to 5,829 last year.

If checking 10,000 resulted in 5829 deportable immigrants, then if the numbers remained constant, checking them all would result in about 99,000 illegal criminals that we could deport.

But why would we want to do that? Let’s let them walk our streets instead. That’s a much better solution!

They’re really cracking down in Costa Mesa, the city whose policies sparked last year’s debate between me and Hiltzik. And is the crackdown working? Why, yes. Yes, it is:

In his first month on the job, the federal agent stationed in the Costa Mesa jail recommended that 46 foreign-born inmates be deported, triggering praise from anti-illegal-immigration activists and concern from local Latinos.

Officials found the number surprising:

ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said the number of those arrested who were sent to a federal judge for deportation proceedings was “higher than we anticipated. But the volume will probably fluctuate significantly” month to month.

And there are some serious criminals among those nabbed:

Of the 46 suspected illegal immigrants arrested in Costa Mesa last month, 23 are accused of felonies and 23 of misdemeanors, according to city statistics.

One man had an arrest record in five states and had been deported three previous times, Kice said.

Another had drug convictions and been deported five times before, she added.

Naturally, The Times has chosen instead to focus on those they consider less dangerous, such as this sob story about a hardworking guy arrested for driving his bicycle on the wrong side of the road. Note that, further down in the story, there is a passing mention that he is not necessarily representative of the bulk of criminals to be deported:

Although Tzir’s crime was minor, many of those swept up in Costa Mesa in December were arrested on serious charges. Of 20 arrest records the city was able to provide, most involved men in their mid-20s charged with crimes such as selling drugs and burglary. One involved a 19-year-old accused of having sex with a minor.

Why weren’t any of these folks the subject of a lengthy L.A. Times profile?

I think you know the answer to that.

The bottom line is this: as I have argued before, our top priority in fighting illegal immigration should be ridding the country of the criminals — especially the gang members and other violent criminals who prey on our citizenry.

Yesterday’s story reports that Special Order 40, which prohibits police from inquiring into suspects’ immigration status,

has been loosened slightly, allowing gang officers to ask about the immigration status of suspects only when they recognize them as having been previously deported.

That’s not good enough. Gang officers should be able to check the immigration status of any violent gang member. And we need to be checking every single person in our jails — not just 6% of them.

This isn’t hard, folks. Why aren’t we doing it??

UPDATE: My statistics above depend upon the numbers staying constant, as I say in the post. Commenter David Markland notes that the numbers might not remain constant because the population selected might not be random. It’s a good point, and I don’t know the answer.

34 Responses to “Jails Still Checking Only a Fraction of Inmates for Immigration Status”

  1. I’m all for deporting illegals who are caught breaking even more serious crimes, but I think your guesstimation of the numbers may be high based on some flawed logic.

    You mention that only 10,000 of the 170,000 inmates are checked for immigration status, but are assuming that all of the 10,000 that are screened are picked at random and not screened based on other mitigating circumstances.

    Maybe this is random screening – and if it is, your numbers are probably right. But its more likely if they’re picking people for immigration screening they’re going to focus first on inmates who have failed to provide valid i.d.s, those who have poor English or strong accents, or possibly those that even concede their home is out of the country.

    My guess is that a lot of white and black inmates won’t be pulled aside and checked specifically for residency status.

    David Markland (78d1d4)

  2. Our esteemed host asked:

    This isn’t hard, folks. Why aren’t we doing it?

    Because a lot of people don’t want us to, that’s why.

    As the Hispanic immigrant population grows, they become intertwined with the personal lives of Americans; there are a lot of Hispanic immigrants who are here legally, and they are friends and families with many of the people who would be charged with the duties of investigating legal status of obvious immigrants. Such people have, at best, mixed emotions about checking immigration status of every brown skinned person who comes in contact with the criminal justice system.

    And, of course, it is the whole “brown skinned” part that has a lot of our liberal friends up in arms: to check the most probable suspects for illegal immigration would require that we use *gasp!* racial profiling. To get around that problem, we’d have to have some sort of Positive Identification Card for everybody, so that everybody who came into contact with the criminal justice system would simply be entered into a national data base, and their citizenship status would come up automatically. Do I need to tell you how much resistance there is to a National ID Card among conservatives?

    Ve need to see your papers!

    There were bills before Congress last session to make being in the country illegally a felony; such would enable us to keep the gang members who were illegal immigrants in prison much longer, something that ought to be the case with every violent offense anyway. From where did the majority of the resistance to that come?

    As long as the only penalty to being in the country illegally is to be shipped back, so that such people simply have to try to cross the border again, then there is no penalty; it’s simply an inconvenience.

    Dana (556f76)

  3. “The bottom line is this: as I have argued before, our top priority in fighting illegal immigration should be ridding the country of the criminals…”

    Last time I checked, they are all criminals.

    petit bourgeois (375601)

  4. I don’t get the part about the poor guy on the bicycle being deported being a problem. Aren’t all illegals subject to deportation?

    TCO (a45405)

  5. Go after the employers of illegals. Hit the first few really hard, then watch the dominoes fall.

    Old Coot (581b7e)

  6. Define hard.

    TCO (a45405)

  7. Let me present my recent encounter with this problem…

    Up at the Marine Corps Base in 29 Palms, the military housing has been turned over to a private management group (Lincoln Military Housing). In January a “worker” was brought into the base hospital after falling off the roof of a house. The staff evaluated the individual, but since he is not a military member, family member of a serviceman or a retiree, all they did was an evaluation and told him to go to a local hospital for further care. During his evaluation the “worker” admitted to a Nurse that spoke Spanish that he was an illegal. The Base Police were called at that time, but they refused to do anything (either pick him up or to call ICE and have him and his foreman arrested). After a phone call to the Judge Advocate’s office, the Base Police came and picked up the worker. The only action they took was revoke the Base pass that the foreman had – no other action. One other thing to point out – there are still “workers” coming into the base hospital, either doing work or injured on the base and looking for medical care.

    This has been an ongoing problem at other bases across the country – there was a sting at a couple of bases in the South that netted about 50 -75 illegals working on base, some with access to sensitive areas (even as janitorial staff).

    My opinion – this is a mindset that needs to change. We’re providing an excuse for these people to come across the border/ocean and do the jobs that some individuals think there are too good to do. Why don’t we see it for what it really is – modern-day servitude, and make a stand for the right reasons. I’m afraid that one day one of these “workers” will be the cause of a national security issue that will bite us in the butt for a long time.

    fmfnavydoc (9bff5d)

  8. I have no problem with mass migrations to the U.S. Then again, I am an advocate of capitalism.

    fmfna v ydoc,

    Markets work the same way in employment markets as it does anywhere else. There is a need for employment and job seekers fill those needs.

    Rostrum (39fc86)

  9. I have no problem with murder for hire. Then again, I am an advocate of capitalism.

    I have no problem with pimps and prostitution. The again, I am an advocate of capitalism.

    I have no problem with the mob. Then again, I am an advocate of capitalism.

    I have no problem with Ken Lay and the Enron fiasco. Then again, I am an advocate of capitalism.

    I have no problem with drug dealers hanging around elementary schools. Then again, I am an advocate of capitalism.

    /sarc off

    MartyH (52fae7)

  10. Marty H,

    I don’t have any problems with prostitution either.

    Anyway, there is clearly a difference between liberty and license. Comparing people freely trying to engage in gainful employment with murder ought to demonstrate some of those differences.

    Rostrum (39fc86)

  11. Marty H,

    I’d also like to point out that a lot of the dangers and problems associated with prostitution proceed directly from its prohibited status.

    Rostrum (39fc86)

  12. As to mobs, well, it depends on what the mob does, why it is constituted, etc. Given that mobs were integral to the creation of the U.S. and that they have traditionally have been seen as an appropriate response to tyranny I have no problem with them in certain circumstances.

    Rostrum (39fc86)

  13. Rostrum-

    Murder for hire is a purely capitalist act. There is no anger or animosity toward the victim. My point is that the immorality of it trumps the virtue of capitalism.

    The examples I cited are current day illegal activities that can be viewed as capitalistic. I can do the whole schtick again with:

    -Food safety
    -Child labor laws
    -OSHA and safety laws
    -Environmental regulation
    -Overtime laws
    -Automobile safety requirements
    -Minimum wage laws
    -etc. etc. etc.

    The point is, our soicety has decided through our representative government that unbridbled capitalism is not the greatest good, and so saying that you are in favor of capitalism is not a sufficient argument for an open borders policy.

    MartyH (52fae7)

  14. Patterico-

    Sorry for contributing to the threadjack…

    I agree that the entire jail and prison population should be screened for illegal immigrants, and not just for statistical purposes.

    It costs $40K/year or so to house a prisoner in California. Instead, these prisoners should serve the full term that they were sentenced for in a prison in their home country. The US would pay the home country a negotiated rate for each prisoner that they house (certainly less than the cost of housing them in the States).

    This gets the prisoner out of the US, locks them up for longer than they would serve here, and saves the prison system money.

    The only drawback is that we are paying foreign governments for their bad citizens. I do not know if that process would create a bad feedback loop.

    MartyH (52fae7)

  15. “Murder for hire is a purely capitalist act.”

    It also an example of license.

    “The examples I cited are current day illegal activities that can be viewed as capitalistic.”

    And of course some of them are examplese of license.

    I can continue to point out the difference between liberty and license all day.

    Rostrum (39fc86)

  16. “The point is, our soicety [sic] has decided through our representative government that unbridbled capitalism is not the greatest good, and so saying that you are in favor of capitalism is not a sufficient argument for an open borders policy.”

    This argument of yours makes very little sense actually. If I had to justify every argument by appealing to what the law says then neither I nor anyone else would ever be able to change the law, would we? Illegality of an issue says little – on its face – about the merits of said illegality.

    Rostrum (39fc86)

  17. What difference can deportation possibly make when our borders are still open? It’s like complaining about burglary in an open field. What makes it worse is that in THIS unprotected field of Los Angeles, politicians have invited the burglars.

    As preposterous as mining our borders might sound, the immediate effect would save hundreds of lives from deterrence of those who would not cross our borders illegally. Illegals would think twice about committing deportable crimes. For illegals already here, the stakes for their assimilation and productivity would become more important.

    Democrats want votes and Republicans want cheap labor. Until we close our borders and streamline our crossings, deportation arguments are meaningless.

    Clark Baker (337440)

  18. Clark Baker,

    I’d argue that you can’t close the borders. Not without throwing up some wall like that which divided Berlin during the Cold War.

    Rostrum (39fc86)

  19. Marty H,

    BTW, I wrote nothing like the phrase “purely capitalist act.”

    Rostrum (39fc86)

  20. Clark-

    I tried to address Patterico’s point directly after starting off topic. Patterico restricted his comments to the prison population, and I agreed that we should not just survey the prison population, but actively do something with that information.

    Three other things I’d like to see done short term:
    Build the wall (even if it’s only 700 miles.)
    Impose and enforce a fine of $2000/incident/day for hiring illegal immigrants. That would mean each illegal immigrant hired would carry a potential ~$500K/year cost.
    Enable temporary migration of guest workers.

    Rostrum-

    OK, I will do the schtick again for you.

    I have no problem with ten year old kids working 20 hours shifts for a penny a day (less clothing allowance, food allowance, and oxygen allowance of $10.73/day) in ammunition factories with the doors locked using candles for illumination.

    Then again, I am an advocate of capitalism.

    My point is that capitalism cannot be used as a trump card against illegal acts. And no matter how lightly it is currently enforced, entering this country without the proper documentation is illegal. That may change, of course-again, one of the great strengths of this country is the ability to change our laws as we see fit-but until it does, it’s still illegal.

    MartyH (52fae7)

  21. Regardless of any anomolies in statitical comparisons, extensions, etc., the point is that any type of screening will flag for deportation more people than are currently being deported from the jail population. That is progress.
    And, if it was done across-the-board, we might be surprised at how many Irishmen, Russians, Chinese, Nigerians, etc., end up being deported too.
    If you aren’t here legally, we don’t need you.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  22. DHS – ICE has thrown up all sorts of hoops you have to jump through to have a illegal alien prisoner screened for deporatation. It has become 10 times more difficult to do this in just the last few years. Unless the alleged illegal prisoner is already sentenced or held on a high bail / no bail crime he’ll already be back in the wind before the paperwork even gets to them. Forms have to be filled out, submitted on a regional basis, no more calling the local ICE office and giving them a heads up and getting a little cooperation. Most LEOs and DOs believe all this was done to suppress the number of deporatations ICE actually does once the illegal is past the border.

    Buzzy (7417f4)

  23. I have no idea what county you live in Buzzy, but where I live the BP come through our jail at least three times a week and immigration holds happen overnight – even on 14601s. Weird that there would be less hoops, difficulty and paperwork in the “liberal” region of the SF Bay area.

    Tracy (3d9798)

  24. Did anyone else pick up on the falsehood of the L.A. Times “sob story”? Riding a bicycle on the wrong side of the road is an infraction. Arrests cannot be made for infractions. The La La Times left something out. On purpose?

    DDA Dave (f88d0f)

  25. David Markland #1,

    Your analysis makes sense but I think it has one flaw: My guess is that most law enforcement agencies restrict their immigration checks to violent and/or dangerous offenders, and they don’t bother running checks those arrested for minor and/or non-violent crimes. My experience is that most law enforcement agencies don’t like to tie up their databases checking up on the little fish.

    Thus, it’s possible the number of illegal aliens may be even greater if you were to run a check on everyone in the prison population.

    DRJ (863f9f)

  26. Anyway, we would be far more able to control the number of criminals coming across the border if we simply made access through legal channels far easier than it is today. In that case most people would opt for those legal channels and those that didn’t would contain a far more concentrated portion of the sorts of folks we don’t want entering the U.S.

    Rostrum (39fc86)

  27. Rostrum, regarding your last comment, what evidence is there that increasing levels of legal immigration will help curb illegal immigration? My understanding is that over the past several decades, starting with the 1965 Immigration Act, the level of illegal immigration has risen steadily with that of legal immigration.

    I understand your rationale for believing that, but the data doesn’t seem to provide any backup to it.

    Erlenmeyer (f6ecc4)

  28. My guess is that most law enforcement agencies restrict their immigration checks to violent and/or dangerous offenders, and they don’t bother running checks those arrested for minor and/or non-violent crimes.

    What stops the BP from coming through the jails and running their own checks the way they do in my county?

    Just gonna venture a guess….

    My county does not have serious over-crowding in the jails. In my county BP comes through at least three times a week and checks out the folks in custody. ALSO, my county has a contract with the BP to house these folks until BP decides they want to come pick them up.

    I’d say that in counties that have more overcrowding, those contracts aren’t made, because they can’t be made. You don’t have room for your own inmates, you can’t be responsible to house immigrants for the feds – as a courtesy or for a fee.

    Another thing…. We can have local law enforcement inquire about immigration status until they’re blue in the face. But having done that, unless someone from the BP shows up to place an INS hold on the people, what’s the use? Local LE don’t have that kind of federal authority.

    The fingers are being pointed in the wrong direction. You want immigration enforcement? The hold the folks responsible who 1.) have authority to file the holds; and, 2.) can house the detainees.

    If you want to be outraged – be outraged at the feds. Local LE has neither the authority nor the resources the shoulder the burden or the blame.

    Tracy (3d9798)

  29. ANY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER THAT DOES NOT REPORT SUSPECTED ILLEGALS IS BREAKING THE LAW

    CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE

    SECTION 834b

    834b. (a) Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.

    (b) With respect to any such person who is arrested, and suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws, every law enforcement agency shall do the following:

    (1) Attempt to verify the legal status of such person as a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted as a permanent resident, an alien lawfully admitted for a temporary period of time or as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of immigration laws. The verification process may include, but shall not be limited to, questioning the person regarding his or her date and place of birth, and entry into the United States, and demanding documentation to indicate his or her legal status.

    (2) Notify the person of his or her apparent status as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws and inform him or her that, apart from any criminal justice proceedings, he or she must either obtain legal status or leave the United States.

    (3) Notify the Attorney General of California and the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service of the apparent illegal status and provide any additional information that may be requested by any other public entity.

    (c) Any legislative, administrative, or other action by a city, county, or other legally authorized local governmental entity with jurisdictional boundaries, or by a law enforcement agency, to prevent or limit the cooperation required by subdivision (a) is expressly prohibited.

    David (d01f76)

  30. The trial has begun on Hazleton, Pennsylvania’s attempt to curb illegal immigration, by local ordinances.

    The central question in the case is whether municipal lawmakers can regulate immigration, or whether immigration policy is the exclusive province of the U.S. government.

    “I realize we’re not fighting for Hazleton anymore. We’re fighting for the whole country,” said Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, who introduced the Illegal Immigration Relief Act in the city council after a local man was shot in the forehead by two illegal immigrants from the Dominican Republic last May.

    “I’m trying to protect the people of my community,” Barletta said before the trial began. “We can’t rely on the federal government anymore. We’ve got to stand up for ourselves.”

    The Hazleton ordinances, yet to be enacted (enforced, actually — DRP) pending the outcome of the trial, would fine landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and withhold permits from companies that hire them. It also mandates English as the official language of this former anthracite-mining town, where the population swelled 30 percent, to 32,000, in five years due to an influx of Latinos from New York and New Jersey looking for a peaceful community, jobs and affordable housing.

    Dana (3e4784)

  31. David – Maybe you don’t remember, but major parts of PC sec. 834b were determined to be unenforcable. See AG Op. 01-213, citing mainly LULAC v. Wilson (1995) 908 F. Supp. 755, 771, 776.

    The system in my county, which I spoke of above, is, however, in accord with and authorized by 8 U.S.C. 1226(d).

    Tracy (3d9798)

  32. Erlenmeyer,

    Rostrum, regarding your last comment, what evidence is there that increasing levels of legal immigration will help curb illegal immigration?

    Self evidentally, when people can move to the U.S. for jobs they are less likely to use illegal channels. They only go through the hassel of it now because the protectionist immigration laws we now have on the books.

    My understanding is that over the past several decades, starting with the 1965 Immigration Act, the level of illegal immigration has risen steadily with that of legal immigration.

    That’s largely because our immigration laws discriminate against the particular classes of individuals who are most likely to immigrate illegaly – those who will likely be manual laborers and the like.

    Rostrum (39fc86)

  33. “Maybe you don’t remember, but major parts of PC sec. 834b were determined to be unenforcable…”

    Tyranny from the bench in siding with radical mexican irredentists. That’s not right.

    petit bourgeois (375601)

  34. Stop the bleeding at our southern border…

    I’m fed up with our Government’s steadfast refusal to address the illegal immigration problem in this country. In Los Angeles today, hundreds of ‘supporters’ gathered at the Los Angeles Sports Arena to demand an end to immigration raids by the…

    Cop The Truth (72c8fd)


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