Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sheriff Dever: Abandoned on the Border

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever of Border Sheriffs has an excellent op-ed in the New York Times on the increasing frustration he has dealing with illegal immigration. Some excerpts -

At best, illegal aliens and smugglers trespass, damage ranchers’ land, steal water and food and start fires. At worst, people who have come here hoping for freedom and opportunity are raped or abandoned by smugglers and left to die in the desert.

Nor are the migrants the only victims. Just over a year ago, while officials at the Department of Homeland Security were declaring they had secured “operational control” of most of the southern Arizona border, my friend Robert N. Krentz Jr., a local rancher, was murdered, most likely by drug smugglers.

The people of Cochise County support the state’s immigration law because we want this violence to end. Understandably, we get frustrated and disheartened when the White House, which has failed to secure the border for generations, sues us for trying to fill the legal vacuum.

The administration’s suit makes several claims. For one, it argues that only the federal government has jurisdiction over immigration. But that’s a strange argument, given that federal agencies regularly work with state and local governments on cross-border crimes.

I’ve had more than one person ask me, sneeringly, “What do illegal immigrants look like?” In response, I tell them it’s not really what they look like as much as what they do that concerns me. Among other things, they generally run off into the desert when they see our officers approach. Citizens and legal residents don’t normally do that.

What’s more, such critics have a strange impression of what law enforcement officers along the border actually do. In Cochise County, my deputies and I often have to travel many miles to respond to a resident’s call for assistance. The last thing we have time to do is harass law-abiding people.

Indeed, these days we have even less time, as the law has opened up a wave of suits against my office and other sheriff’s offices along the border from immigrant advocacy groups — so many that other sheriffs and I formed a legal defense fund, the Border Sheriffs Association, to help our departments counter them.

Read the entire article

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