Immigration is perhaps one of the most contentious issues in the United States today. The focus of the great debate is usually on the southern border-states, and more specifically, around the Houston area.
The question in and around Houston is just how far are police officers supposed to go to help with immigration control? While this issue might not seem to be that important, it takes on critical importance when you consider that Houston cops also need to police the city. So, the question is then one of compromising their existing jobs and the citizenry of Houston to assist with immigration control.
Certainly this is a political issue first and foremost, but it also has the earmark of a manpower and budget issue – both areas that are difficult, if not impossible, to resolve and have everyone happy with the outcome. From the point of view of the Department of Homeland Security, their Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department exists to perform immigration duties. Part of their raison d’être also happens to be the training of local authorities on what they are to do when dealing with immigration issues.
The training would also include access to their extensive database of ICE fingerprints. The method to their madness implies that by giving access to this vast database, local police would have a leg-up in discovering and deporting people who have entered the country illegally. This is all well and good in theory, but it may not live to see the light of day, as there are no local police forces enrolled in the ICE immigration-training program. The main reason is, any trainees would need to be away from their regular police jobs for up to five weeks.
The time away is a problem manpower wise, but the most pressing issue is the fact that while the police trainees are away from their regular jobs to get ICE trained, they are still being paid by the local police jurisdiction. There are six counties surrounding Houston and not one of them has a police member enrolled to take the training courses.
What is happening here is a very gradual, and not necessarily good, blurring of the lines between federal and local responsibilities for immigration. Who is to be responsible for what? Where are the lines? What happens if they are crossed? How will manpower be mustered to serve in both capacities, when there are too few cops and not enough money to pay them?
These are all issues that will directly impact on immigrants. If things weren’t bad enough now, with the current immigration policies changing just about daily, they are about to get worse if local law enforcement starts to act on behalf of the federal government. Legal issues surrounding immigration are difficult enough as it is without further uncertainties thrown into the mix.
The bottom line is that the immigration polices of the United States really need to be clearly spelled out in a fair and equitable manner. Those who face immigration difficulties need to be aware they should seek competent legal advice from a highly trained immigration attorney to assist them with any issues they may have.
Sally Odell – Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more about immigration lawyer in miami, immigration lawyer in orlando, immigration lawyer in florida, visit Rifkinandfoxisicoff.com.