Suppose there's a law-enforcement operation that works 99.92 percent of the time, and when it does not work, it is a short-term inconvenience for criminals.
That's pretty commendable, right?
Unfortunately the Los Angeles Times does not see it that way
There was a recent article in that paper with an alarming lede:
Local law enforcement officials detained more than 800 U.S. citizens at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over a four-year period…
A little later in the story, it mentioned that there were "nearly a million requests for immigration holds" during the four years. That works out to be a 99.92 percent record for accuracy, which is rather good for a mass operation.
Now, no one should spend any extra time in jail who does not qualify for it, but this is a rare occurrence, not a typical one.
We should also bear in mind to whom this happens. It does not hit a batch of high school valedictorians or current or future physicians; these are people who are already in a local jail because of a non-immigration-related crime of some kind. At the end of their prison time the local authorities and/or ICE made a mistake about their citizenship.
And what was the consequence of these highly unusual errors — years in the pen, deportations to a strange land?
No records are kept on these outcomes, according to the story, but for most it meant that they were held up to 48 hours while their immigration status was being worked out. And they were held in a jail that they were in anyway.
I remember one case of a citizen being deported, I think it was to Mexico. Much furor, but in the end it became clear that the young woman involved had failed to tell anyone she was a citizen.
This program is designed to remove criminal aliens from the United States and to avoid any gaps between local jails and a trip to the border. It is an excellent idea. And though it misfires once in a while, it should be continued and be expanded. A little perspective is in order.
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