Undocumented to get “Bushwhacked”?


George W. Bush smiled and chatted up Matt Lauer on the Today Show Wednesday. “I’m enjoying selling the book,” Bush said. “My debating days are over.”

Yes, with his memoirs out now, Bush is all about retail. And I certainly understand his not wanting to debate.

Who wants to get into a debate, say, over which was the exact low-point in an administration devoid of highlights? Debating the low-point in the Bush administration is like participating in a frat house limbo contest. How low can you go? (Let’s see, between bankrupting America, waterboarding, Katrina, and Kanye West, Bush actually picks Kanye West. Hmmm.)

So much for 43, the man who sees his presidency as done, as if just a mere cameo in history.

Unfortunately, his legacy continues to impact our lives in oh-so-many-ways.

The latest holdover proposal with Bush DNA that can really sting our community is a seemingly small thing with a virtuous name: Secure Communities.

Sounds innocent enough. Just to give it a touch more bureaucratese so as to mask its true evil, the proposal is being referred to as S-Comm. Plug and play? Let’s hope not.

It’s a plan that has local police sending every fingerprint they get to the feds so they can weed through them for undocumented immigrants.

The Bush administration spawned the idea in 2008, and it has yet to truly rear its ugly head. In fact, as reported by the New York Times this week, even New York’s state criminal justice agency was under the mistaken impression that participation by local governments is optional.

But now even Obama’s Department of Homeland Security is saying, what do you mean “optional”?

The feds say it was never optional and expect the process of local fingerprints going to Homeland Security to be in full force by 2013.

It means some jurisdictions that have actually opted-out, like Santa Clara, California, may have to join the more than 750 others in 34 states that have signed up. And when every local police department in the country is forced to act as a wing for Homeland Security, our immigration problems will be solved!

Don’t count on it.

Instead, watch how our community’s relationship to local police changes drastically. When people equate the cops with the feds and immigration enforcement, expect a chill to set in. Any cooperation or involvement with police will be seen as leading to deportation.

The proposal virtually renders the police ineffective to do their real job, which is to protect the community from the real “bad guys.”

No doubt some “bad guys” will have bad documents. Or lack them altogether. The fingerprinting process could find them, but then what?

Instead of being treated like U.S. citizens in criminal proceedings, immigrants are denied bail or jailed for even longer periods of time.

As for the liability for all the bad that can occur, the illegal detentions and the like, why that’s all on the state and local folks. Of course, Homeland Security likes the plan so much it’s throwing in an incentive. Sign up now all ye local police departments and you too can use our exclusive national criminal databases to help fight your local crime.

Good deal for the cops and feds. A much worse deal for undocumented and the community.

Once S-Comm is in place, we should expect a wave of racial profiling, “pretextual” arrests based solely on race or ethnicity. What are the odds of catching an undocumented person? With S-Comm, the feds cast a wide net. Everyone who is fingerprinted by law enforcement gets put through the wringer. In some communities that could be a youth soccer coach. Not that I have sympathies for real criminals, either. They should be deported. But what if you’re wrongly arrested, or found not guilty?

And so, from a simple Bush administration idea comes a new wave of harassment, and an ongoing part of the Bush legacy.

There may still be time to rescind S-Comm, but only if the community really understands what’s at stake. The proposal is a set-up for a real bushwhacking.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
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The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.
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