Editorial: The proper perspective on those rounded up in last week's immigration raids
Jan. 31, 2018 at 11:42 p.m.
Immigration agents swept through Longview last week as part of a two-state crackdown on illegal immigrants to the United States who also had committed other crimes.
Three people from our city were arrested and will be deported or charged.
Their crimes ranged from sexual exploitation of a child and assault to drug possession and other crimes, according to a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. It is worth noting that 21 of those arrested already had been deported once and crossed the border again, a federal felony.
This crackdown is all good news. Getting criminals off the streets improves public safety. We hope for more diligence in this regard, not just in East Texas but across the nation.
The raids are nothing new, as they have been conducted for years across the nation. But this is the first time in our memory Longview was included in an ICE operation, and we appreciate it.
It is worth noting, however, that these raids are not inexpensive for taxpayers. We don't have the figures for the cost — that information probably won't be made public — but the operation lasted three days over Texas and Oklahoma using multiple ICE agents to round up 86 offenders.
Good law enforcement doesn't come cheap.
Being the federal government, it is not always as efficient as it could be, either. The News-Journal has reported several instances over the past few years in which the Gregg County Jail was holding prisoners with federal detainers and other federal charges and had difficulty getting federal agents to pick up those inmates. The same happens in other area jails.
We bring all this up because it is important to note there is a vast difference between such criminals and another group of immigrants that has been much discussed of late.
The first group is made up of people who came to this country fully knowing what they were doing was a violation of the law. It is understandable why they would want to come to the U.S., but sneaking across the border is not an acceptable method. Many broke more laws once in the U.S.
The second group is made up of those who were brought to our nation by their parents years ago and had no choice in the matter. They have grown up in the United States, gone to local schools and know little or nothing about the countries where they were born. Most have become productive members of our society.
Many of these fall into the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. To be eligible for DACA, one must not have been convicted of a crime and be a productive citizen. Many have entered the military or have good jobs and contribute to our economy.
There is no pathway for these people to become citizens, but they are not being deported.
At least not yet.
President Donald Trump in September arbitrarily started a six-month timer, after which DACA will expire and such people will be in danger of deportation.
It was a terrible decision made worse by the fact Trump has changed his course on DACA several times, leaving Congress with no clear direction.
That deadline is nearing and more than a half-million people are at risk of having their lives uprooted. The best solution would be for Congress to solve the problem, to take it out of Trump's hands. If that doesn't happen, the president should stop the timer he started for no cause.
That, at least, would be the American thing to do.