Sunday, July 27, 2008

In support of 287(g) AND the rights of American newborns

Commentary by Cesar A. Muedas
Last Sunday July 20, the New York Times reported in detail the ordeal of an illegal immigrant who was stopped for “careless driving” in the Berry Hill section of Nashville last July 3. It was then the decision of the Berry Hill police officer (not an MNPD officer) to immediately arrest the illegal immigrant. The saga of the arrest is what makes the story in part unique, in part inexplicable, in part deplorable. I invite you to read the original July 20 NYT article, as well as the piece that the Nashville City Paper published on July 22. In fact, a separate July 22 posting on this blog also highlighted the story and its aftermath.
As indicated above, I support the use of 287(g) and consider it an effective law. My views, for example, coincide with those expressed in the Nashville City Paper editorial of March 25, 2008:
“Though there could be — and likely has been — some pain involved with enforcing U.S. immigration laws with 287(g), the program has proven a success.
Certainly, national leaders have worked past the idea that simply removing the nation’s 12 million-plus illegal immigrants is a feasible or even good idea.
Our country allowed them to enter through a combination of decades of our own remarkably poor border security and simply ignoring our own immigration laws.
Although philosophically serious leaders in both of the nation’s political parties no longer believe in mass deportations, we are still first and foremost a nation of laws. Using 287(g) honors that concept by taking our immigration law and putting it in the hands of the local authorities most likely to run afoul of criminal illegal immigrants.
Local leaders are simply empowered through 287(g) to perform the job federal agents should do but strategically cannot execute.
It has been an effective law and a well done program in Nashville addressing a true problem.”
Also in March 2008, commemorating a year of enforcement, the Mayor of Nashville [1] and the Chief of Police [2] made public statements in support of 287(g), with which I strongly agree, too:
[1] “I applaud Sheriff Hall on the success of 287(g) that has resulted from his hard work and cooperation with Metro Police. It is my goal that Nashville continues to be a welcoming and friendly city, and at the same time, a safe city. This program helps us accomplish that goal."
[2] "It is very important to remember that the 287(g) investigation begins after an arrestee is behind the jail door, and that the persons detained by immigration deputies are those suspected illegal aliens who chose to violate one or more Tennessee laws."
The arrest of July 3, however, is unique because the illegal immigrant in question was pregnant and gave birth three days later under the custody of the Sheriff’s office. What is inexplicable is that the pregnant mother did not receive the minimally humane, compassionate or Christian treatment to alleviate the hardships of the arrest at least during the last few hours before the delivery. Most deplorable was what the NYT reports:
“[when she] went into labor on the night of July 5, she was handcuffed and accompanied by a deputy as she was taken by ambulance to Nashville General Hospital at Meharry. Cuffs chaining her foot to the hospital bed were opened when she reached the final stages of labor […]”
The day the pregnant mother was taken into custody, regardless of her immigration status, the arresting officer as well as the Sheriff’s office should have stretched their IQ to the maximum to come to the realization that that woman was about to give birth to an American citizen. The enforcement of any law, no matter how draconian some may think it is, does not exonerate any party from exercising sound judgment and fundamental common sense. I ask the reader to reflect on how you would feel if your own mother had been shackled to the bed in the delivery room at the moment of your birth. How would your identity and worth as an American citizen be affected by such trauma? What kind of patriotism would you be inclined to cultivate if born through an experience so abhorrent and demeaning?
Every American newborn deserves the best care, nourishment and education that our country can offer its citizens. And if it is obvious and imminent that a pregnant woman is going to give birth to an American citizen, I want that American newborn to enjoy the same rights and privileges of any other citizen of this great country.
This sad episode is, in my opinion, as much connected to 287(g) enforcement as it is to the failure to offer equitable treatment to all Americans born in this country. Shouldn’t we all voice our outrage on behalf of the American citizen involved in this story? I am sure I am one of many willing to go out to march or demonstrate in support of all children born in this country as American citizens, regardless of the immigration status of their parents.
Finally, a word of caution: American newborns are not “illegals” in the midst of persecution, cannot cast votes for any candidate and cannot give attention-grabbing sound bites to the media. Since they are not necessarily polarizing or sensational, then, will they get the same attention from the media and politicians as the polarizing or sensational items do? It is up to each of us to make sure they do.

1 comment:

  1. Does the author truly believe that "local authorities" have the training and judgement to enforce immigration law? 287(g) is first and foremost a political tool for those seeking to gain or maintain power.

    Introducing this process into a climate of fear and hate was morally reprehensible.


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