- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2007

This could be Maryland’s strangest immigration episode in quite a while. The state is currently in a tizzy over the fact that federal agents arrested 24 illegal aliens they encountered in a Baltimore 7-Eleven parking lot while the agents were taking a break from an unrelated assignment. The arrests happened shortly after the aliens made the mistake of soliciting the officers for work as they sat in unmarked vehicles.

The arrests are quite unlucky for the aliens, reportedly all Hispanic males, who redefine the phrase “Wrong place, wrong time.” But this is not the illegal “profiling” that CASA de Maryland and its supporters are trying to portray. To the contrary, if Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers cannot arrest illegals who literally fall into their hands, then immigration enforcement would become bereft of purpose.

CASA alleges that the arrests are illegal because the officers failed to ask whites and blacks also present in the parking lot about their immigration status. The group also charges that it was wrong to question anyone at all in this circumstance.

At least for now, ICE is not backing down. “Fugitive aliens and other immigration-status violators [flout] our laws and threaten the integrity of our immigration system,” John Alderman, acting director of ICE’s Baltimore field office, told our reporter Tuesday. “Although ICE conducts targeted enforcement actions, we will not ignore immigration violations we encounter during the course of doing business.”

The newly installed administration of Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley has made no secret of its affinity for CASA de Maryland; CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres was a member of the O’Malley/Brown transition team. In many respects Maryland’s new leadership takes its immigration cues from CASA. The question now is: Will Mr. O’Malley, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon and their allies use this episode to speed up day-labor centers around the state?

We imagine that the answer is yes, if only because the state’s new Democratic leaders stand everything to gain and little or nothing to lose. With an open-borders White House which won’t much defend its immigration authorities and a strong, pro-illegal activist base to assuage, not to mention the existence of moneyed interests who employ illegal aliens, it’s something of a no-brainer. The fact that it is terrible immigration policy probably will factor little, if at all.

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