There are so many loopholes in U.S. immigration laws that it is impossible to cover them all in a single newspaper column, but one immigration issue is not up for debate.
The District of Columbia is on the wrong side of federal immigration laws.
The federal government is tussling with Arizona and Alabama about the legality of those states' tough new illegal immigration laws, while Virginia's Prince William and Loudoun counties are taking hardened stances.
On the other hand, New York City has long been a sanctuary city, and D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray delivered the nation's capital Thursday when he put his signature on an executive order that mandates all public-safety officials take a "don't ask, don't tell" posture.
"This executive order ensures public safety by ensuring that our police resources are deployed wisely and our immigrant communities feel safe cooperating with those who are sworn to protect them," Mr. Gray said. "The District is home to thousands of immigrants. If they are afraid to cooperate with authorities on criminal investigations because they fear it might endanger their presence in the United States or the presence of a loved one, then it endangers their public safety and that of our entire city."
No individual will be detained on the basis of immigration status, and no D.C. agency will make incarcerated youths or adults available for "federal interviews without a court order."
And get this: While the mayor snubbed the feds with one hand, he slyly turned up the palm of his other hand to reel in hundreds of thousands of federal dollars doled out by the U.S. Secure Communities immigration-enforcement program.
The nerve of Mr. Gray, who in the process of pandering to lawbreakers is seemingly breaking the oath of office to which he swore Jan. 2, when he became mayor.
That oath reads: "I, [mayor's name], do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will faithfully execute the laws of the United States of America and of the District of Columbia, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of mayor of the District of Columbia, which I am about to enter."
And therein lies the rub.
Alabama, which has the toughest illegal immigration law in the nation, is wrangling in the courts with President Obama's Justice Department. One reasonable section of the law, for example, makes it a felony for an illegal to conduct such transactions as renewing a driver's license.
Justice's chief argument in the Alabama case is that states lack the authority to undercut federal priorities and establish a "patchwork of independent immigration policies."
Now, granted, the District is not a state, but Justice's principle should still apply.
Moreover, by signing the order, the mayor moved the nation's capital perilously close to blocking the legal missives and overall mission of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials by declaring that D.C. authorities will hold Secure Communities detainees for no more than 48 hours, regardless of requests from ICE.
Mr. Gray clearly has stepped out of bounds, but will federal authorities give him a pass?
Dear Ron Moten: Now that you have tossed your "Civil Rights Republican" hat into the ring for a D.C. Council seat, it's time to articulate your platform.
You are perhaps best known as a strong critic of Mr. Gray and a worthy proponent of programs that support youths and the hard to employ.
But where, precisely, do you stand on such controversial issues as tax increases, welfare reform, teacher evaluations, term limits and HPV immunization?
Are you a true outsider, as you described yourself in The Washington Post, or will you wait for incumbent Yvette Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat, to push her agenda before going on the attack?
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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