SEPTEMBER 15, 2008
One U.S. city has drastically reduced crime by doing what local governments across the nation refuse to do—checking the immigration status of all foreign-born arrestees, including those who commit minor infractions.
Authorities in Nashville Tennessee began checking the immigration status of all foreign suspects after previously arrested illegal immigrants committed more than half a dozen homicides in 2006. Mirroring hundreds of cases nationwide, most had been booked for minor crimes and released instead of deported.
This motivated the area’s main law enforcement agency, the Davidson County Sheriffs Department, to sign up for a program that authorizes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to train local officers to enforce immigration law. The region has yet to see another high-profile crime committed by a previously arrested and released alien.
Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall says there is no doubt that his city is safer since the program was implemented 16 months ago. Around 4,000 jailed illegal immigrants have been placed in removal proceedings; more than half of them had previous arrest records and were bound to strike again if released.
The sheriff says his department regularly sees evidence that screening all foreign born arrestees, even those charged with minor crimes, pays off. He cites the recent example of a man arrested for a misdemeanor last week. A few years ago, before the county launched the federal program, the man was arrested in Nashville for a misdemeanor and released rather than deported.
He went on to get convicted with felony sexual assault of a child in Houston Texas. Obviously, Houston authorities did not get him deported and, upon returning to Nashville, the illegal immigrant got arrested yet again. This time he will be deported, however.
The sheriff also points out the tragic consequence of not immediately deporting illegal immigrants upon arrest. Five of them, charged with homicide, are currently incarcerated in Tennessee state prisons at U.S. taxpayer expense. All had been previously arrested for misdemeanors and subsequently released.
In the last few months alone there have been three high-profile cases of previously arrested illegal immigrants who committed atrocious crimes—a total of six murders and a rape—after being released rather than deported. The tragedies occurred in Providence Rhode Island (kidnap and rape), San Francisco California (murder of a father and his two sons) and Aurora Colorado (murder of two women and a toddler).
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