It’s going to be a bit tougher for illegal immigrants in the state of Maine, and even harder for sheriffs who don’t comply with the state’s governor Paul LePage’s new directive. In fact, sheriffs across the state could lose their jobs if they disregard the order to “cooperate with federal immigration officials and follow the provisions of Executive Order 001-2001.”
Governor Will Fire Sheriffs for not Cooperating With ICE
This week, LePage sent the directive to all 16 county sheriffs, warning them to comply or face the consequences. According to WGME, on Monday the governor spoke on a national conservative radio broadcast and said: “that by not cooperating with immigration agents, these sheriffs are jeopardizing the lives of Mainers by opening the door to a possible terrorist attack.” On Tuesday, he sent out the order to cooperate.
These actions are likely in response to the sheriff of Cumberland County. The letter Kevin Joyce sent to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) earlier this month said he would not detain immigrants beyond their release date without a court order. Joyce claimed constitutional concerns over what he said he felt was false imprisonment. “By doing what we used to do, knowingly, and potentially holding somebody against their 4th Amendment Right, violating the 14th Amendment, is not doing due diligence,” Joyce said.
Governor LePage, however, insists all illegal and undocumented immigrants will be detained (if requested by ICE) for up to 48 hours to give ICE an opportunity to investigate. The state’s constitution has a provision that will allow the governor to fire any sheriff that does not comply:
“Because ICE officials must have probable cause prior to requesting a detainer, we should not be putting potentially dangerous illegal aliens back on the streets without granting federal officials the authorized 48 hours of detention,” stated Governor LePage. “My executive order clearly requires this reasonable cooperation on behalf of Maine’s law enforcement officers for the safety of our people. If the sheriffs refuse to comply with state and federal law, I am authorized to take additional action to remove them from office under the Maine Constitution.”
Illegal Immigrants are Breaking the Law
Is a 48-hour hold time too much to ask when compared to our safety? Let’s consider who we are talking about here. People are not being herded along the streets and stuffed into a containment area just because of their skin color, the clothes they wear, or their surname. The people discussed here have broken the law – at least once.
First, they are here illegally, and while there is sympathy for those who have respectfully been trying to become a citizen, there are plenty who abuse the system and refuse to cooperate. Second, they have been observed by public officials breaking the law. They weren’t arrested for returning their library books on time, folks.
Our focus here should be on protecting our country and its people. That means ticking off a lot of Americans and undocumented aliens, of course, but it is necessary. Consider these questions and the answers you have probably already heard:
- How long have they been here? In many cases, especially poor farming communities, illegal immigrants have been here for years – even decades and generations! As a reporter, I covered numerous city council meetings in a farming territory. It always amazed (and angered, if I’m to tell the truth) me to see person after person get up to speak to the council, claiming they’ve been in the area for 20-plus years, but still needed to use an interpreter. With free English classes at local libraries, tutors, and just plain being in the country, why haven’t they learned the language?
- Why haven’t they tried to get documented? If you plan to live here and you have been in the U.S. for more than a few years, why not at least start the process of becoming a citizen?
Of course, this doesn’t apply to every illegal alien, or even to everyone that is arrested. However, if someone refuses to abide by your house rules, hides out in your garage when you’re not home, and continues to break the law, wouldn’t you want to kick them off your property? The 48-hour detainment may be an inconvenience at most for some, but for others, it may be just the time needed to possibly prevent more serious crimes from being committed.
And perhaps it might inspire people to start the citizenship process.
Governor LePage is determined to make sure ICE receives some time to make sure the detainees released are safe to go back out into society. He made it clear in his letter that he will not tolerate officials refusing to cooperate with his directive:
“Should any citizen of Maine notify me of any undocumented, illegal alien who was detained and released by a Maine Sheriff following a written United States Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) Request the alien be detained pending federal enforcement action, I will commence the specific process afforded me under the Maine State Constitution Article IX Section 10.”
Do you think the governor is correct?