Thursday, October 26, 2006

Immigration officials to GA police chief: "Piss off, redneck"

From the AJC:
They're the faces of law enforcement in a country that doesn't always enforce immigration laws.

But Roswell Police Chief Edwin Williams has found an unlikely ally to help him feel true to his duty: the fax machine.

At least once a day his jailers fax the names of inmates suspected of being in the country illegally to immigration agents in Atlanta. It's a practice Williams started a decade — and roughly 10,000 names — ago, long before illegal immigration grew into a front-burner issue.

Today, Roswell stands alone in the area covered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) regional office in Atlanta. No other jurisdiction in the Carolinas or Georgia sends such a list, said Kenneth Smith, the office's special agent-in-charge.

The north Fulton city of 100,000 has faxed the booking sheets of 1,396 detainees to ICE in the past nine months alone, according to police department records. Immigration agents have picked up three of them, Williams said, or one out of every 465.

Once, an immigration official called to say the police department was wasting its time with the daily faxes, Williams said. So the jailers quit. When the chief found out, he went ballistic. "I said 'You will continue,' " Williams recalled. "I don't care if they just throw it away. It's my fax paper."

The daily faxes are Williams' way of navigating the widening gap between local expectations and national realities on immigration. A broken federal system may be to blame for the estimated 12 million people living in the United States illegally, but all levels of law enforcement — from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to Main Street, USA — are feeling the heat.
We all know the feds are not even remotely serious about stopping illegal immigration. The Chamber of Commerce likes the cheap labor and greases enough palms in DC to stymie efforts at reducing illegal immigration. But for the feds to tell the cops to stop "wasting their time"? That's pretty damned galling!