Wednesday, July 24, 2019

OK County Commish Maughan responds to calls to suspend ICE cooperation

Some in the Oklahoma County area are agitating for the removal of two Immigration and Custom & Enforcement (ICE) agents stationed at the Oklahoma County jail in cooperation with the county sheriff's office.

July 23, 2019

I am deeply concerned with calls made yesterday at the Jail Trust meeting to suspend the cooperative arrangement between the Sheriff’s Office and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

ICE performs essential functions in both of its enforcement areas, immigration and customs. Among other duties, it seeks to identify and prevent the entry of potential terrorists or criminals and to block importation of drugs. ICE agents at the jail have assisted in identifying and successfully prosecuting individuals for serious crimes committed in Oklahoma County, including major felonies that endangered the lives and property of Oklahomans. It is simply irresponsible to suggest that local law enforcement give up that relationship.

The ICE agents working with the Sheriff’s Office are not there to nab jaywalkers for immigration violations. They are a valuable adjunct to local law enforcement in assuring the public safety. Where they initiate deportation action, it is linked to crimes committed here by illegal immigrants. Do these protestors really think it makes sense to allow burglars, robbers and others who pose a danger to our community to remain here with impunity?

I am also concerned with the ongoing effort by some on the extreme political left to demonize ICE and with their calls for its abolition, which would result in an irresponsible and costly open borders policy. ICE agents are charged with enforcing federal laws. Like those of us in local government who have taken an oath to apply all laws equally, they have little discretion in this matter. Those who object to current immigration laws should petition Congress to change them, not lobby for the suspension of enforcement. Nor should they attack the character and motivations of federal law enforcement officers who are working under great pressure and difficult circumstances.

Every nation has rules and laws governing immigration; without such laws it is no longer a nation. America has always welcomed legal immigrants and shown compassion for those who entered outside legal channels. Suggestions that we are operating “concentration camps” and attacks on officials who are forced to cope with a massive flood of illegal immigrants are simply childish and irresponsible. It is equally irresponsible to suggest that Oklahoma County should ignore federal law. I would urge the Jail Trust to reject this call to end cooperation between local and federal law enforcement agencies.


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