Chertoff plans to use state and local forces in fight against immigrant smuggling

Published 9 January 2006

In a controversial move, DHS wants to get state and local authorities more involved in immigration control, heretofore mostly a federal responsibility

Last week DHS secretary Michael Chertoff declared a crackdown on immigrant smugglers. This, in itself, as not new, but what may raise hackles is Chertoff’s plan to have state and local officials participate in the crackdown. Proponents of tougher enforcement have long advocated a larger role for local law enforcement, but critics say local agencies should stick to fighting crime, not enforcing immigration laws. Last year alone, Border Patrol agents thwarted 60,000 attempted illegal crossings at San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. Smugglers once stuffed a baby inside a gasoline tank, Chertoff said.

The federal government has also increased border enforcement in Arizona, which has surpassed California as the nation’s busiest corridor for illegal immigrants. Arizona accounted for more than half the Border Patrol’s 1.1 million arrests last year. Border Patrol arrests in the San Diego sector plummeted to about 110,000 last year from 528,000 in 1995, when the state had stepped up security.

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