Appeals Court Judge Richard A. Posner's critique of Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent in Arizona v. U.S. does nothing to advance the search for a viable immigration policy for this country.
Buried within the undocumented disinformation that he presents is the amazing statement that illegal immigrants can be "law-abiding, except for the immigration law itself." Posner then resorts to Clintonesque parsing and disingenuous logic to state that "being in this country without legal authorization is unlawful, but, with some exceptions, it is not criminal."
I doubt that the average unemployed American citizen whose former job has been filled at a lower wage by an "unlawful" alien will appreciate the distinction.
Beyond politics, it may be more instructive to look at inefficiencies in the Obama administration's current immigration-enforcement policies.
It must resonate with the general public when the administration announces that it is going to "focus the very limited resources of the federal immigration enforcement authorities on catching and deporting the criminals."
However, serious crimes committed by citizens or aliens generally fall under state or federal criminal statutes, not immigration regulations.
Consequently, it is entirely logical that most criminal aliens will not be found by diligent federal immigration agents hunting them down but through the receipt of phone calls from state or federal corrections officials.
Viewed in this light, perhaps a better use of our federal immigration resources would be to expand cooperation with local and state law enforcement personnel in roles currently authorized under existing law.
A useful example of how state and local agencies can assist in federal law enforcement efforts might be the military's Absent without Leave Apprehension program.
For decades, the military maintained law enforcement detachments in many civilian communities to hunt down and return to military custody those service members who had either gone AWOL or deserted (both crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice).
The drawdown after the Vietnam War and the advent of the volunteer force led to the disbanding of these detachments and a policy of almost complete reliance on civilian law enforcement agencies to find and apprehend these military offenders.
When an AWOL service member is identified, such as during a database check run during a traffic stop, the individual is apprehended and placed in civilian custody. Military authorities are notified and the service member is transferred to military custody.
Contrast this with the current federal immigration policy, especially the retributive one issued against Arizona after the decision in Arizona v. U.S.
An Arizona state trooper stops a car for speeding on the interstate highway and determines that the driver is an illegal alien. The Department of Homeland Security has apparently instructed its immigration officials to respond to Arizona authorities "he's only an illegal immigrant; we're not interested unless he has committed a violent crime."
The consequences of these two policies only highlight the absurdity of not accepting assistance. Many AWOL service members are discharged, while others are referred for punishment.
Discharge may sound like a reward for unauthorized absence but the services can administratively discharge personnel under less-than-honorable conditions (bad conduct and dishonorable discharges may only be awarded by courts martial).
These discharge papers can haunt people for the rest of their lives as they seek employment, veterans' benefits, security clearances, etc.
The administrative discharge process might be somewhat comparable to the deportation of illegal aliens. Send them home with their names and biometric information entered into a database and two objectives have been accomplished: We have removed people who were here in an unlawful status and we have enhanced our chances of detecting them should they try to enter the country again.
The military would call a strategy employing all available resources to be the use of "force multipliers."
Just saying no to assistance from state and local agencies in the enforcement of laws beneficial to both the state and federal governments is extremely poor policy and a very inefficient use of valuable resources.