Tuesday, August 10, 2004

It's About Time

I predict that knee-jerk "civil libertarians" and various ethnic groups will protest this: U.S. to Give Border Patrol New Powers to Deport Illegal Aliens (from NYTimes.com, free registration required). But the operative word is illegal. The Times explains:
[T]he Department of Homeland Security announced today that it planned to give border patrol agents sweeping new powers to deport illegal aliens from the frontiers abutting Mexico and Canada without providing the aliens the opportunity to make their case before an immigration judge.

The move...represents a broad expansion of the authority of the thousands of law enforcement agents who currently patrol the nation's borders. Until now, border patrol agents typically delivered undocumented immigrants to the custody of the immigration courts, where judges determined whether they should be deported or remain in the United States.

Homeland Security officials described the immigration courts — which hear pleas for asylum and other appeals to remain in the country — as sluggish and cumbersome, saying illegal immigrants often wait more than a year before being deported, straining the capacity of detention centers and draining critical resources. Under the new system, immigrants will typically be deported within eight days of their apprehension, officials said.

Immigration legislation passed in 1996 allows the immigration service to deport certain groups of illegal aliens without judicial oversight [emphasis added], but until now the agency only permitted officials at the nation's airports and seaports to do so. The new rule will apply to illegal aliens caught within 100 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders who have spent 14 days or less within the United States. The border agents will focus on deporting third-country nationals, rather than Mexicans or Canadians, and they are expected to begin exercising their new powers on Aug. 24 in Tucson and Laredo, Tex.
So, it's better than nothing. But why limit it to illegal aliens caught within 100 miles of a border? Why limit it to illegal aliens who've been in the country less than 14 days? And why tell everyone when and where enforcement will begin, unless it's disinformation?

UPDATE: I'm not going to track all the negative comments about the new policy, but here's a sample. Repeat after me: We're talking about illegal immigrants.