I Loves Me a Good Debate on Illegal Immigration

June 19, 2008

I Loves Me a Good Debate on Illegal Immigration

I thought I got a lot of comments here for my post Random Stop? until I saw the debate that it provoked on the Chatham County BBS (thanks to Esbee for the tip).  The site’s administrator Gene Galin posted my piece on the BB and it provoked a whole bunch of comments, and I think it’s a good debate that provides a look into the various viewpoints on illegal immigration and how we as a society are dealing with it.

Some of the comments pointed out that I was probably in Alamance County and not Chatham County and I think they’re right.  I’m not real familiar with that area but I do know where I was in relation to I-40 and upon further inspection it does seem I was in Alamance.  The importance of that detail in the overall debate was highlighted in a post by “belle” that references an article in the Raleigh News & Observer pointing out that Alamance County’s sheriff has been involved longer than any other sheriff in North Carolina in the federal program that provides funding for identifying illegal immigrants that have been arrested for other crimes.  Alamance has had 434 illegal immigrants deported, 64 of whom had been arrested for felonies and 302 for traffic stops.

One of the main questions in my original post was whether or not the feds meant for these funds to be used in this way.  Typically the federal government has not looked kindly on state and local agencies infringing on their territory and I was wondering if the folks at ICE would be happy with this kind of operation.

A second issue that I didn’t articulate well, but came out in the comments, is whether or not it’s a good idea to have traffic stops to identify illegal aliens.  The problem is that there are plenty of Hispanic folks in this country who are here legally and it’s not fair to them to be pulled over and have their residency status checked.  The point is that if you’re going to pull over Hispanics to check status, then you should pull over everyone since there are plenty of illegal immigrants from non-Hispanic countries.

The police routinely set up roadblocks for a variety of reasons.  Drunk driving checkpoints on New Years Eve, checks of inspection stickers, checks of registration, etc.  No one likes them but I think we all understand them and live with them because we’re all subjected to them.  In my original post I wrote that you could very well say that the checkpoint I drove through was set up for that purpose, and maybe it was.  What seemed off to me was that there were lots of cars pulled to the side when we passed and they were all driven by Hispanics.  It also seemed strange that the sheriff barely glanced at my ID, in fact he never even got close enough to take it out of my hand, and that he didn’t appear to look at my stickers or plates.  I suspect that if I hadn’t been a middle aged white guy with a family, but rather had been a middle aged Hispanic guy with a family I would have been scrutinized much more carefully.

Lots of issues here that are important: illegal immigration, due process, civil rights and state rights among them.  No easy answers, but then there never are for the truly important things in life.

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