Cherry-picking laws a slippery slope
To the Editor:
So, Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon and Warwick Police Chief Stephen McCartney think our police officers should cherry-pick which laws they choose to enforce and which they choose to disregard by "looking the other way.”
An article in the Warwick Beacon on August 16 (City files for federal grant, but won't sign certification, pg. 3), reported that Mayor Joseph Solomon chose not to sign a request submitted by Police Chief Stephen McCartney for federal law enforcement funds. The Mayor refused to certify that Warwick police would help federal law enforcement authorities enforce federal statutes that make entering our country without permission illegal. Chief McCartney did not have to sign the certification but he had previously stated that he only supports assisting federal authorities when the person in our country illegally commits a serious crime, and that violation of the federal law barring illegal entry to our country should not be enforced by Warwick police. So, both our mayor and police chief want our police officers to refuse to enforce such laws.
What questions did these two Warwick officials ask themselves before the mayor refused to sign the certification? Did they ask, "Does illegal activity that is against federal law affect Warwick residents?" Did they ask, "If we refuse to enforce immigration laws, does that mean we can refuse to enforce other federal laws?" Did they ask, "If we refuse to enforce federal jurisdiction laws, can we also refuse to enforce other state's laws?" Did they ask, "Can we really cherry-pick which federal laws we choose to enforce?" And, "If we do, which laws should we choose to enforce and which should we choose to disregard?" No matter how you look at it, it's a slippery slope.
If someone is in Warwick because he or she chose to enter our country illegally and federal authorities have identified that person as someone who has committed the federal crime of illegal entry, does that person's presence affect the lives of legal Warwick residents? Of course it does. He or she is an "invisible person" because our government has no way of knowing where that person is, whether or not that person is entitled to government benefits, whether or not that person has a criminal history - in essence, whether or not that person is worthy of living among Warwick resident.
When the Warwick mayor and police chief choose to refuse cooperation with federal authorities in enforcement of federal immigration laws, do they also choose to refuse to cooperate in the enforcement of other federal laws such as bank robbery, kidnapping, taking juveniles across state lines for prostitution, etc.? Probably not. So, how do they justify cherry-picking which federal laws to help enforce?
What about other states' laws? If Warwick police can choose to not enforce federal laws, can they also refuse to enforce the laws of other states? If Connecticut or Massachusetts issues an arrest warrant for burglary or assault, should Warwick police have the freedom to disregard those states' laws and allow the culprits to go free in Warwick? What's the difference between other states' laws and federal laws?
It is truly a slippery slope. There are certain activities the U.S Constitution gives states the authority to designate as crimes and others the Constitution gives the federal government the authority to decide whether or not the actions constitute a crime. In both cases, the Founding Father who signed the Constitution intended that both state and federal authorities would recognize and help enforce the criminal laws enacted by the other.
We all fret about how divided our country has become. Yet we support the idea that local, state and federal authorities can and should refuse to cooperate in the enforcement of each other laws that are all designed to protect American citizens.
It just doesn't make sense. Yet Warwick's mayor and police chief think it does. How the hell is this country going to survive?