- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 3, 2007


These are trying times for Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Tom Manger and County Executive Ike Leggett. They are in a difficult quandary, caught between their sworn duty to enforce the law and political pressure to pander to open-borders activists. Chief Manger, in particular, finds himself on the hotseat for having the chutzpah to turn over illegal-alien absconders that his officers encounter during routine performance of such duties as traffic stops.

The “problem” is this: Since last year, more than 50 people have been taken into custody by police officers in Montgomery County on immigration warrants. That’s because their names are included in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, which police check to see if someone has outstanding warrants.

Chief Manger, like many other police chiefs in big cities where liberal, Democratic Party-dominated political machines hold sway, is opposed to the inclusion of immigration warrants in the NCIC database on grounds that this would undermine his department’s efforts to “develop strong relationships” with illegals and the immigrant communities that harbor them. In our view, such thinking, which has been adopted by law enforcement organizations like the International Associations of Chiefs of Police, is politically correct foolishness. But leave that aside for the moment: Despite his own views on the database, Chief Manger understands that it would be dereliction of duty to adopt a policy of refusing to arrest absconders. After all, these are fugitives who have had their day in court, and been ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge but failed to report for deportation. Police are expected to turn them over to federal authorities.

This policy doesn’t sit well with the usual suspects. The National Council of La Raza has filed suit in federal court to prevent immigration from being included in the NCIC database, and locally, illegal-alien advocates are trying to make things very uncomfortable for Chief Manger and his boss, Mr. Leggett. On June 21, Chief Manger spent part of his day not trying to come up with more effective ways to fight crime in Montgomery County but fighting off political partisans and members of an entity the police chief calls his “Latino Advisory Committee,” who sought to bully him into disregarding federal immigration warrants. Thus far, Mr. Leggett and Chief Manger say that they will not disregard immigration warrants.

We’re not terribly optimistic that county officials will remain steadfast. But the fact that thus far, Mr. Leggett and Chief Manger haven’t capitulated suggests that even in one of the most liberal jurisdictions in the country, local officials are taking a sober-minded attitude toward the flouting of the law by illegals and their protectors.

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