A ballot measure is in the signature-gathering phase on the difficult road to the polls this November, and it could cement Missouri as a leader in immigration crackdown. The state of Missouri, which at the most recent reporting has no sanctuary counties or cities, may put forth an initiated constitutional amendment that would require full cooperation of local law enforcement with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department. This would also, in effect, prevent the formation of any sort of sanctuary jurisdiction. In cases of detainment, maintaining custody of, or transfer of illegal immigrants, local law enforcement would be required to turn the matter over to ICE for further investigation and handling.
Filed by Missouri Republican Party treasurer Patricia Thomas and approved for signatures by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the ballot measure current has until May 2020 to gather enough signatures for ballot viability. Looking to recent history, Missouri votes overwhelmingly conservative primarily in the middle of the state. In 2018, incumbent Senator Clare McCaskill was unseated by Republican Josh Hawley, making this potential ballot measure a more likely victory than ever before.
Cooperation with ICE has caused many political rifts and polarization in the U.S. as tensions around the concept of immigration control and reform continue to escalate. In response to decades-old immigration conflict, many states have declared themselves “sanctuary” states or have given local municipalities the autonomy to declare themselves as such. This not only furthers the divide between citizens but also inhibits ICE from properly enforcing existing immigration policy.
In matters of managing crimes and misdemeanors committed by illegal immigrants, it is a matter of national security that ICE is equipped and able to handle its responsibilities. When local law enforcement does not cooperate with ICE, they put lives of citizens at risk. More legislation such as what Missouri is proposing is needed in order to present a more unified front when it comes to immigration control.
Immigrants are an integral part of the patchwork that makes up this country; however, this does not and should not exempt these individuals from abiding by the laws of their new home. Enabling the right bureaus to enforce these laws — and to appropriately handle the cases in which these laws are broken — is a way to keep our country safe from harm. And while there is much complication and controversy surrounding the idea of obtaining citizenship, the fact remains that many criminals still walk free, unconcerned with whether or not they are on the right path to becoming American citizens. These are the individuals who must be properly disciplined for breaking laws, and this is where ICE is a necessary entity.
Many instances of legislation concerning cooperation with ICE exist, with varying degrees of success. As we look ahead to the 2020 presidential election, immigration promises to be a topic at the forefront of discussion. Now is the best time for action in order to garner enough support to put more ballot measures on this topic on ballots all over the country. Many counties are voting to allow this cooperation among enforcement departments to exist, which is positive progress. But there is more work to be done.
Of course, there are plenty of arguments against the idea of requiring cooperation with ICE. A firm rebuttal to these arguments, however, is this: the cooperation of law enforcement entities is, at the end of the day, helpful for immigration. How so? This cooperation allows both departments to do their job, which is to enforce laws and keep citizens safe, by opening lines of communication so that criminals and repeat offenders may be properly dealt with. With too little, or no, communication between police officers and ICE, more illegal immigrants who are violent criminals continue to walk free. By working together to keep these offenders out, we create a safer environment for those who are here legally, who are working to make America great. Sanctuary jurisdictions pose a threat to this process, and working to unify our country should be an ultimate priority.
While much attention has been directed at the tension afflicting the southern border of the United States that is shared with Mexico, problems are also affecting the country’s borders on the northern end. Border security remains a hot topic of discussion, and no matter what side of the political spectrum individuals may fall on the fact remains that protecting both borders from illicit or illegal activity and crossings is of utmost importance for the safety of all involved. Read more here.