Even though I am an Orlando immigration attorney, I practice immigration law all over the United States. I like to think of myself as an attorney on the forefront of both immigration and criminal law, and especially where to two cross over. Because of that, I try to stay on top of changes in both federal immigration law and state criminal law that may effect my immigration clients.
This legislative session in Florida has seen a large number of immigration-related bills designed to punish and deter immigrants from entering, living in, or committing crimes in Florida. I blogged about a couple of them a while back.
One bill created a very serious criminal offense for people who were present in Florida after receiving an order of deportation. Check out my blog about this bill here: https://www.floridaimmigrationlawyerblog.com/2015/09/a_law_pending_in_the_florida_l.html
Another bill sought to increase the maximum criminal penalties and statutory guidelines for Florida crimes depending on the immigration status of the defendant.
Check out my blog about this bill at: https://www.floridaimmigrationlawyerblog.com/2015/11/there_is_bill_pending_before_t_1.html
There were other misguided bills that also unfairly targeted immigrants for other reasons. Then there was the anti-sanctuary cities bill that actually passed the Florida House, but thankfully died in the Senate.
These bills have all failed to become law for one reason or another. Many of them never made it past the Judiciary or Criminal Justice committees in the House and Senate. None of these bills passed both houses and made it to Governor Scott’s desk for signature or veto.
When I first started working for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (check out my attorney page: https://www.slgattorneysflorida.com/john-gihon.html I thought it was a good idea for states like Arizona to pass laws where they would investigate and prosecute immigration-related cases. I thought, “why shouldn’t local law enforcement ask everyone during a traffic stop for proof of their lawful immigration status?” If the person had no status, then the locals could just call ICE or Border Patrol to come and pick them up for deportation. What could be the harm in that?
Well as I spent more time in the dysfunctional federal immigration system I realized that on many, many occasions, when local law enforcement made contact with someone who turned out to have no lawful immigration status, federal immigration officers were not interested in taking the case.
Whether this was because of resources, manpower, distance to travel, indifference or orders from Washington D.C., bottom line, federal immigration officers simply were not going to detain and try to deport every single person they found or were found for them who happened to be in the U.S. without lawful immigration status.
If you read this and say, that’s right, federal immigration officers should focus their efforts on deporting felons not families and criminals, not kids; then this is good news for you.
If you read this and said, this is garbage, federal officers should be detaining and deporting everyone who is here illegally no matter what;” just think about this. . .
Do local law enforcement officers often arrest people who are detained and brought to them by civilians who claimed to have made a “citizen’s arrest?” No, that would be absurd. For a variety of issues, we cannot have people who are not trained law enforcement officers trying to identify crime, detain people they think committed a crime and then driving them to the jails. The dangers in that scenario are too numerous to detail.
This is because civilians do not have the knowledge, training and experience to do the job of law enforcement officers. That’s not the civilian’s fault, but being a police officer simply isn’t the job of an accountant or construction worker. We don’t want our CPAs to have to stop doing our taxes every time they see a crime take place, and begin investigating the crime and rounding up suspects. If that were the case, who is going to do our taxes?
Why is the absurd scenario above any different for state and local officers to investigate and arrest federal immigration cases? For the most part, they don’t have the knowledge training and experience to identify, detain and transport immigration violators. Immigration law is federal, it is complicated and it is ever changing. Our local law enforcement officers have to know state and local laws, constitutional law, policy and procedure. We need them to act quickly in dangerous and pressure-packed situations. We do not want to overburden them with trying to learn, investigate and enforce federal immigration law. We don’t ask them to enforce federal criminal law, we have federal law enforcement officers for that.
Its true that sometimes state and local law enforcement help the feds with criminal case, but they don’t take it on themselves to enforce federal criminal law when it is not also a state or local law. Again, why would immigration be any different?
The States should leave the investigation, interpretation and enforcement of immigration law to federal immigration officers. Whether you think we are enforcing our federal immigration laws too leniently or too forcefully, there is a way to change that, its called a general election. . . there’s one in November.
If you need an immigration attorney anywhere in the United States, but certainly if you live in Orlando or Jacksonville, please call Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon.
Visit our website for more information about SLG: http://www.slgattorneys.com