To paraphrase George Orwell, "all illegals are illegal, but some are more illegal than others." As — well, Orwellian as that may sound, it’s actually the way federal immigration authorities do business in Arizona.
People who enter the United States illegally from Mexico, whether on foot or in a vehicle, and get caught soon after they’ve crossed the border are loaded onto buses by immigration agents and driven back across. No staying in El Norte for them, even if they hadn’t been involved in any other sort of misbehavior.
But illegals who have been so involved — and end up in the Maricopa County jails for their pains — need have few concerns about deportation. Unless U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement places a hold on the prisoner, based on factors including criminal history, severity of offense and previous deportation orders, a non-citizen inmate will simply get kicked loose when he either makes bail or serves out his sentence. No deportation, no bus ride to Nogales, no nuttin’.
And ICE holds are only applied to about 10 percent of non-citizen inmates in Maricopa County jails, the Tribune’s Ray Stern reported Friday. The rest — more than 1,700, of whom an ICE spokesman estimated some 1,400 are illegals — just walk out onto the American streets where they were arrested.
The ICE cites resource shortages to explain this. With about 70 agents in its Phoenix office, it hasn’t the manpower to depart all the illegal alien offenders and thus must concentrate its efforts on those with the nastiest records.
This only makes sense. But it surely makes no sense whatever to spend whatever ICE spends on those southward bus rides in the southern part of the state to expel illegals apprehended for nothing more than being here, while skimping on efforts to expel illegals apprehended for having committed offenses over and above their mere presence.
It is bad enough that Maricopa County residents must pay for these offenders’ incarceration, the cost of which ought to be remunerated by the federal government. But it adds insult to injury for the feds to just turn them loose on us after their sentences are up, free to commit more (and possibly worse) crimes.
Money ought to be found to ensure these jailbirds are sent packing — all of them.