I am generally unhappy with local and state efforts to enforce immigration laws. Too often, these efforts are mean, piecemeal, expensive, and ineffective. I believe it is the federal government’s job to set and enforce immigration policy — which may, or may not, be equally stupid, but has the virtue of being uniformly so.
I believe that illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes here should be deported. I also believe that there should be a path to citizenship for every other immigrant.
This week, President Barack Obama’s administration announced its intention to expand a program that will check the immigration status of every person booked into local jails. The program will identify deportable illegal immigrants while they are still in custody. The emphasis will be on finding and removing people who have committed the most serious offenses.
I like the idea because it focuses resources on a real problem, deporting people who are national security risks or who have been convicted of violent crimes. Finding and removing those estimated 100,000 criminals from our streets is a defensible use of federal resources — and it removes one more plank from the argument of those who are unwilling to discussing a reasonable path to legal residence or citizenship for 11 million undocumented residents already here.