Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Start Fixing the Problem

This week, Metro Police feels it has something to boast about. And what might that be? In the past two years, 47% of immigrants detained by Metro had criminal records. That number was 36% from 2008-2011.

Metro spokespeople spun this as evidence of a stronger focus on detaining criminals instead of intimidating immigrant communities. And to be fair, this is an improvement. However, this still means that 53% of immigrants detained by Metro had no prior criminal record. And this still means Clark County Detention Center and Henderson Detention Center are housing a number of people who simply "committed the crime" of coming to America in search of a better life.

Much attention has been focused on Metro's policing of immigrant communities and enforcement of federal immigration law. But today, let's focus on why this is happening. Here's a hint: It has to do with federal immigration law.

Last year, the US Senate passed S 744 in a bipartisan effort to reform immigration law and fix what hasn't been working. If enacted, it would relieve state and local governments of the need to step up and provide some sort(s) of policy band-aids. And that's because it would address the source of the problem that the State of Nevada and Clark County (and other state & local governments elsewhere) have been trying to alleviate with various policy band-aids.

Yet ever since S 744 passed the upper house of Congress, the G-O-TEA "leaders" of the lower house of Congress has signaled "no intention" of passing any sort of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Instead, they've tried various excuses for their inaction. They've even attempted to pass the buck onto the President Obama.

But ultimately, it's House Republicans' decision to drop CIR. House Republican "leaders" have let their G-O-TEA Culture Warriors lead them into killing any efforts to pass CIR in their chamber. And the G-O-TEA Culture Warriors have even succeeded in scaring supposedly pro-CIR House Republicans (cough- Joe Heck- cough) away from HR 15, the one hope left for CIR this year.

We're seeing daily the real life consequences of Congress' failure to pass CIR. Sometimes when municipal governments try to fill the void and deal with the consequences, matters become even more complicated. Just keep in mind that it doesn't have to be this way. All that's needed to start fixing this problem is a simple floor vote.

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