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02 May 2010


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An Early Good Morning, Col. Lang

I clicked on your link and it took me to a screen where I could log on to Typepad, which I do not want to do -- and I don't think you wanted me to do, either.

Can you correct the link so we can all read the article, as you intended?





I don't think that link is working. As to the Arizona law, just what conduct gives rise to probable cause to suspect that I or anyone else is in violation of immigration law? Just so I can change my behavior and not get stopped another time by an officer who felt I 'looked suspicious' while that particular officer was nearby?

After I prove my citizenship and the probable cause to stop me has ceased to exist will the officer honor my 'no, you can't search my car unless you provide me a search warrant' response to his or her request?

Clifford Kiracofe

By way of introduction, let me just say that I am familiar with Mexico. While in federal service, I have dealt with immigration issues and narcotics issues related to Mexico. I had the opportunity to meet with former President Zedillo at Los Pinos and I have had the opportunity to meet with various Mexican politicians from then candidate (later President) Fox on the right to C. Cardenas on the left. I like Mexico and its culture, its art, its music, its people and so on.

It is useful to try to understand what laws the various state and local agencies are trying to enforce.

For example, is the person in question in the United States legally or not? Thus, does this person have proper documentation to show their legal status?

Any US citizen going to Mexico, Canada, or anywhere else in the present world would be expected to be able to show who they are and evidence of legal entry into the country.

Also, around the world if one is working in a foreign country it is normal to have authorization from the host government and papers to show that.

In the US, we have citizens of Mexico who are here legally and who also have legal status with respect to working here. This is true for many people from all over the world working in the US.

In my earlier comments, I noted that I myself have worked with Mexicans who are here legally and they are hard working. Also, there are a lot of Mexican-Americans (US citizens) from Texas and the border states who come up to Virginia to work in agriculture or construction. I have worked with them also.

The issue is the ILLEGAL aliens from Mexico (or anywhere else): they are present in our country illegally and they are working illegally. They have broken the law by illegally entering our country and they continue to break our laws when they engage in work here.

Fairly clear cut distinction then between foreign guest workers legally here and illegal aliens.

It is not known how many ILLEGAL aliens are present in the US. Press estimates this past week reporting on Arizona talk about an estimated 11 million nationwide. But this could well understate the matter. Maybe we are looking at 20 or 30 million here whether full time or moving back and forth across the border.

ALL of the arguments we see in the press and national discussion today were raised back at the time of the Simpson-Mazzoli legislation in the early 1980s. This includes the "amnesty" provision which granted illegal aliens in this country access to legal status and even citizenship. So you break the law, enter illegally, work illegally, and then can get citizenship.

The demographic is this country has shifted with the African-American minority being overtaken now by the Hispanic minority. What has been the role of US immigration legislation facilitating this?

The issue of public services for illegal aliens and their children such as hospital access and school access were also raised in the 1980s. The cost issue was raised in debate as well.

Constitutional issues were raised and some contended that because of a lack of Congressional legislation on some contentious issues, the Supreme Court was forced to be lax on various immigration matters.

The government of Mexico behaved in the same way back then as today. The US pro-Mexico lobby (Hispanic Lobby) behaved the same way. Both interfaced to target those who desired a realistic and tough approach to illegal immigration.

As I have pointed out, the Mexican economy's failures combined with a rapidly rising birth rate by the 1980s played the key roles in causing cross-border illegal migration. Take a look at the economic statistic for the period 1980-1990 and then take a look at border arrest for immigration violation rates, and other indicators. Talk to law enforcement officials who have to deal daily with the issue.

"White" "Anglo" Americans would do well to take a summer vacation along our southern border to see the chaos there and talk with folks with direct experience.

A student in one of my W and L classes on world politics two years ago was from a border town in Texas. When we touched the topic of migration as a factor in global politics I asked him to give his impression to the class of his own personal experiences in Texas. The "white" middle class and above students in the class were astounded. It was as if their fellow classmate was from Mars...they could not believe the level of violence he described and some of his and his families personal experiences.

Students were totally shocked when his talked about the "Zetas" crime family. When he mentioned that these terrorist mobsters had actually been trained by the US military and then "went bad" the room was basically silent and students did not know how to react...as I have some background in counternarcotics, I was able to pick up and explain the narco angle here: cocaine and heroin.

Many "White" Americans live in a rather removed state from what is really transpiring in this country. not to mention the world. Their television-entertainment-media intake has removed them from reality and they are sleepwalking through a rapidly changing and dangerous world.

The politicians they elect don't want to be on the wrong side of either the pro-Mexico or pro-Israel lobbies.


My discomfort with redundant enforcement structures, redundant responsibilities, questions of accountability and chains of command aside ... I understand that local law enforcement has an auxiliary function as far as enforcement of federal law is concerned, i.e. a secondary role. In Germany that is called Amtshilfe, you may call it 'inter agency assistance' in the US. That is only practical, given that local cops are usually the first at the scene. So far so good.

What I see is that local enforcement of federal law is not much of a practical problem as long as the majority of the people in the county agree with the sheriff that he enforces those federal laws he chooses.

I wonder whether in a staunchly conservative or even anti government county, the consensus would go far beyond a least common denominator - i.e. it is probably relatively easy to find support for enforcing federal immigration laws. I also see that to an extent the fact the Sheriffs are elected prevents abuse (while on the other hand that very fact can politicise law enforcement).

I see problems as soon as we come to the more contested 'liberal' sort of laws, like federal gun laws, environmental laws and the like. Or think of a Sheriff trying to enforce federal mining safety laws in Don Blankenship county in West Virginia. He'd see himself pushed out of office, if he is lucky.

That is to say, I think that the enforcement of federal laws through sheriffs is only practical in a narrow field of application.

Clifford Kiracofe

As a practical example of the law enforcement issue.

Here in central Virginia, there is a very successful building contractor who buses Bolivian stone masons (who reportedly are not in legal status) into the area from northern Virginia.

Because the successful contractor can exploit his illegal foreign workers by paying them low wages, he is able to underbid other LOCAL building contractors for various masonry work.

The activities, including specific locations and job sites, of this contractor have been reported to local law enforcement and to the INS office in the Valley.

Neither local law enforcement nor the INS, took or wishes to take, action.

This example can be applied to the landscape installation and maintenance area as well, for example, here in Virginia.

Just last week a crew of Mexicans (legal status unknown) was stripping paint and repainting a historic multimillion dollar property in Albemarle County. The crew boss was African-American and the white contractor arrived at the job site in a nice new Cadillac, according to someone I know who was present.

The situation is not different in neighboring North Carolina from what I hear from local elected officials in Charlotte, for example.

Patrick Lang


In the balance most Americans want the county sheriff to be "under the gun" for election. It is true that local control and largely local funding makes local police and most especially the sheriff vulnerable to citizen and/or business pressure. On a net basis, we think that is worthwhile.

"Federal gun laws?" Registration of dealers and a requirement for a federal license to own a fully automatic weapon? I own several firearms and am a Life Member of the NRA. I don't hear any of my fellow gun owners complaining about these federal laws.


A lot of the people who are so worked up about the AZ law are simply opposed to effective US control of immigration.

I have carried a federal ID card since 1962 and have produced it and my driver's license on demand from competent authority. I do not feel oppressed by that. Why should you? pl



I've done the same thing though being younger just haven't done it as long. I'm not oppressed, though there is a sense of unease about the situation. A number of folks I've talked to here expressed the views I posted. Just as in Clifford's first post, many are out of touch with their own country. As Clifford's second post makes clear, there are plenty of business owners undercutting the 'local' competition by a hiring illegals to bring down wages. During the two years I lived in Dallas I saw this was a common occurrence. Many who complained about illegal immigration also took advantage of the 'low cost' services whether lawn care, house keeping or a simple car wash.


I just want to say thanks for sticking with this blogging Col.


Mr. Lang,
I have no doubt that you are a law abiding citizen and handle your guns responsibly. I am not against guns, I don't think they're evil. I even like shooting. My point is that I don't think that citizens with a persistent fear that the government is going to take their guns away, and these people exist in America, share your reasonable views on the matter or gun regulations, or a Sheriff's reasonable views for that matter.

And as for the ID card, as a German, I have had one since I got 16 and showed them on request, and I don't feel oppressed either.


Doesn't this law violate the 4th Ammendment because it disregards the necessity of having a warrant?

Although the Obama Admininstration does not seem to have a regard for this ammendment, what are the chances of this bill being ruled unconstitutional?

The Twisted Genius

I found a 2007 letter from the Prince Willian County Attorney to the Board of County Supervisors detailing the local law enforcement response to illegal immigration on the PWC government site.


It was the PWC attorney's legal opinion that local law enforcement officers in Virginia can arrest anyone when all of a set of circumstanses are met. The person must be suspected (reasonable suspicion) of commiting a crime or be chargedby ICE with a crime. "Local law enforcement officers in Virginia are not by any provision of Virginia law to arrest a person when ICE has taken no action against the person; [or] ICE is taking no more than civil action against him or her." This seems to be the basis for needing the 287(g) authority and training. What the border states' laws say may be totally different.

All the documents on the PWC police and government sites show the concern for legal and human rights of all involved (including the illegal immigrants) in enforcing immigration law in PWC. Although it won't show up in the MSM, I bet local officials in Arizona are going through the same careful process. I think this local approach coupled with an increased emphasis on enforcing laws targeting the employment of illegal workers could eventually force the federal hand in addressing this inherently federal problem.


Col. Lang:

In my experience, becoming a Sheriff means you've got to get elected. If you're going to get reelected you've got to be able to work with the political power structure that runs the county you've been elected to police.

At a practical level that means occasionally hiring the DA's nephew as a deputy even though the nephew couldn't stock the shelves at the local convenience store. Doing favors for the mayor who needs to have his daughter's wedding reception protected. Making sure the 'right' local business men are being used as vendors for the jail and so on. Law enforcement, especially in rural areas is seldom held to a statewide standard because that standard doesn't exist!

Arizona county law enforcement is likely suffering from all those problems. To say nothing of the fact that the new legislation in Arizona also potentially subjects the individual peace officer to being sued if he/she is believed by a citizen to not be enforcing the law 'correctly.' I can't think of any other instance in law enforcement where this is the case.

Expecting that these Sheriffs will be able to or even want to adopt a standard of enforcement that may be incompatible with their very survival in office strikes me as a difficult task indeed.


Col. Lang:

My apologies to the State of Arizona. I spoke too hastily in my earlier comment. Arizona does have a Peace Officer Training and Standards (POST) program that defines what training a peace officer must have in order to receive a state certificate as a peace officer. That these standards are sometimes not honored at a local level as carefully as they might need to be goes without saying.

My other comments, however, regarding rural jurisdictions needing to view law enforcement in the context of the cultural mores of the local community and that this approach often results in one county enforcing laws that another county might ignore still obtain.

Patrick Lang


I don't see anything wrong with that kind of constituent service. Why are the things you mentioned "problems?"

There is a logical inconsistency in your position. On the one hand you say that sheriffs are subject to constituent pressure and on the other you object to a law that makes them vulnerable to citizen action seeking to make them enforce the law whether or not their personal electoral interests are adversely affected. pl

Patrick Lang


"results in one county enforcing laws that another county might ignore still obtain."

Good. pl

Patrick Lang


"must be suspected (reasonable suspicion) of commiting a crime"

Entering the US or residing therein illegally is a crime. pl


My Tea Party friend and neighbor says the Federal government doesn't enforce the immigration laws as illegal immigrants are a great source of revenue for them. Supposedly, a lot of illegals use fake Social Security numbers and the SS taxes are taken out of their pay, sent to DC but they will never collect SS down the road so it's "free money" for the Feds. Nothing is free for the States and local municipalities though as they have to fund medical care and schooling for those same illegals. I don't know if he's correct or not.


burdens of proof
1. articuable basis of suspicion (terry vs. of Ohio)
needed for a stop cop must be able to talk about it. reason to detain and ask questions. needed for traffic stop or street stop. no seat belt. bulge in pocket, etc.
I had a law professor always bring the point home by saying a person would be crazy not to put his/her seatbelt on and give the officer an excuse to find the cocaine in the glove compartment! (search incident to a stop!)

2. probable cause. more likely or not that a crime occurred. this is what a magistrate needs for a summons or warrant for arrest. or grand jury for indictment.

2.5 clear & convincing. intermediate standard needed in social services cases.

3. guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. what a jury needs to convict. convinced to a moral certainty.

i haven't practiced law in 9 years now- just what i remember from the top of my head.

Clifford Kiracofe

With respect to the documentation issue, I will bring up again the idea that Mexican guest workers in the US have an official ID-credential (cedula)issued by the government of Mexico in conjunction with the US government. Allocation of these credentials could be at the level of millions, if desired, given modern IT.

Again, a distinction must be made between legal guest workers and other resident aliens with proper papers/visas, green cards etc. issued by our consulates etc., and illegal aliens.

For those who seek legal temporary, seasonal, annual employment in the US, this would be helpful. For both the US and the Mexican governments this would also be a good area for close cooperation. We are already cooperating in law enforcement and a range of issues anyways.

I would note that illegal Mexican and Central American aliens in the US are preyed upon not only by exploitive US employers. These communities are preyed upon by organized Hispanic criminal gangs and violence, narcotics, and so on are involved. Logically, an illegal alien so preyed upon in the US is not going to go to the police.

I would also raise the issue of how the Mexican government treats illegal aliens entering Mexico from Guatemala and El Salvador, thus violating Mexico's sovereignty.

I have mentioned the massive presence in the US of violent Hispanic criminal organizations from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Every local law enforcement officer across the United States is aware of this and many have to contend with this.

The Justice Department and federal authorities brief local law enforcement about this threat and offer assistance on any Hispanic organized crime/gang related situations. Our local police here have been fully briefed on this, are fully aware of this, and are appreciative of the level and quality of federal support offered.

Hispanic organized crime gangs operating in my general area are quite well armed according to law enforcement officials with whom I have spoken. As they deal in narcotics (methamphetamines etc) and engage in other profitable situations, they have plenty of money to purchase large capacity Glocks and all the rest.

The Twisted Genius


"Entering the US or residing therein illegally is a crime. pl"

I am in violent agreement with you on this point. An "undocumented immigrant" is commiting a crime just by being here. It makes me wonder why PWC and Arizona are going through all these legal and legistative maneuvers to have their law enforcement officers get the criminals off the street. I would think it would be more a question of allocating sufficient resources to adequately enforce existing laws. The problem is what to do with these criminals once they are arrested. ICE probably won't accept them for detention and deportation. I don't know if state and local authorities can prosecute and/or deport illegal aliens... or if they would dare touch this politically explosive problem even if they could legally do so.

Byron Raum

I would like to raise one point. It seems that many people seem to feel that illegal immigrants have violated the law and implicit in that is the feeling that there should be some punishment for it.

However, also implicit in the Constitution is that there might, from time to time, arise laws that are immoral or unacceptable. Do you think the immigration laws are good or fair laws? Keep in mind that there are many millions of our countrymen who feel they are not - that is why they are marching in the streets. They want the law changed.

Simply because a President or a Governor has signed in a law does not make it ethical. To always believe otherwise is to lay the foundation for a tyranny.

Myself, I don't know. I realize that the US cannot support a sudden population increase from 300 million to 6 billion. On the other hand, I don't think that a person who has spent all but one year of their life in the US should be deported. Where does one draw the line? I don't know.

I do have a suggestion, though. If you deport someone, find out how much they have paid into the system in terms of Medicare and Social Security taxes. Subtract the price of a ride home from that, and give them the rest of the money they have earned.

Patrick Lang


I am not interested in punishment of those apprehended here in an illegal status. I am only interested in deporting them expeditiously. Smuggling or other non-immigration connected crime is another matter.

"Civil disobedience" to the law as a protest is a long honored tradition in the US, but it is understood in this tradition that punishment for this to be expected and accepted.

I will say again that the outrage expressed by many is outrage that seeks an end to US control of its own borders. pl

Mark Logan

I do not expect the effort to force local LE to enforce this will be successful.

The police that have to cruise these neighborhoods need a working relationship with the inhabitants. They need victims of violent crimes to report them. Primarily they tend to see their role as being the guys who take out the true scumbags: Thieves, muggers, rapists, drug dealers, and the like, not harass Pedro the painter trying to feed four kids. Human nature.

Laws that exist in certain states, such as California, that actually forbid questions from police and DMV as to nationality are widely seen by LE as useful in the field. They do not wish to have the ability to solve major crimes inhibited.

The deep flaw in all this is not the wish to clean up illegal immigration, it's in expecting local law enforcement to do it while the door remains wide open for illegal alien employment. The idea you had that the time has come for a national ID is IMHO exactly right. Create a system by which employers can be held to account for the employment of illegal aliens, and thereby reducing the task to managable levels. Until this is done, expect lip service only to this from many officers.

Sidney O. Smith III

When I was a prosecutor, we deported hundreds and hundreds of illegals.

What is to stop them from returning to the US?

My point, seal the borders first. It is a prerequisite to all else. Imo, sealing the border is a higher national security priority than our ME adventures. And due to limited resources, the USG/American people must prioritize…and quickly.

Allen Thomson

> "White" "Anglo" Americans would do well to take a summer vacation along our southern border to see the chaos there and talk with folks with direct experience.

What chaos would such vacationers see? I've spent most of the last decade in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, have numerous Anglo and Hispanic acquaintances there, and have somehow missed out on the chaotic conditions. As have, apparently, the large number of Anglo-American (and Anglo-Canadian and Franco-Canadian) "Winter Texan" annual visitors.

The actual chaos that's growing in northern Mexico is certainly a serious concern and there are some regional problems, but life in the LRGV generally isn't a lot different than in many other places the US.

BTW, checking the stories in border newspapers can be informative:











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