SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Juan Martinez was looking forward to returning to his construction job after a one-month sentence for violating probation on drug charges.
But when he got out of the Orange County jail, he was met by immigration agents bent on deporting the 23-year-old illegal immigrant with $68 in his pocket and few prospects. "I just probably won't come back," he said about being sent to Tijuana, Mexico. "If I do, I'll keep coming back to prison, and I don't want that."
How on earth does an illegal alien get probation in the first place? He should have been deported immediately the first time he was arrested.
The truth is that there is no consistent policy of communication and cooperation between local police departments and immigration authorities. In fact, many cities, like Los Angeles, pander to their Latino voting constituencies by prohibiting the local police from cooperating with immigration enforcement:
Some of the most dangerous thugs preying on immigrant communities in Los Angeles are in this country illegally. Yet the Los Angeles Police Department cannot use the most obvious tool to apprehend them: their immigration status.
Dozens of gang members from Mara Salvatrucha, a ruthless Salvadoran prison gang, for example, have sneaked back into town after having been deported for such crimes as murder, assault with a deadly weapon and drug trafficking. Police officers know who they are and know that their mere presence in the country after deportation is a felony. Yet if an LAPD officer arrests an illegal gangbanger for felonious reentry, it is the officer who will be treated as a criminal for violating an LAPD rule.
That rule, Special Order 40, prohibits officers from questioning or apprehending someone only for an immigration violation or from notifying the immigration service (now known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement) about an illegal alien. Only if the person has been booked for a nonimmigration felony or multiple misdemeanors may officers even inquire about his immigration status.
Any "comprehensive" immigration "reform" package ought to include a requirement that local police cooperate fully and actively with immigration enforcement.