Dr. Rozella G. Clyde, Democratic Candidate for Morris County Freeholder, and Educational Director of Clydeoscope Educational Consultants, LLC, responds to remarks made at the August Young Republican meeting by GOP challenger Heather Darling, Esq., as reported by Frank Cahill in the August 22, 2017 edition of the Parsippany Focus.
During her August 2017 presentation before the Young Republican Club, Ms. Darling apparently drew several conclusions that challenge logic. The largest portion of Ms. Darling’s comments related to the popular misconception that presupposes a positive correlation between increasing numbers of undocumented populations and crime. These allegations are not born out by the data. Ms. Darling related a timeline of actions in Morris County communities beginning in March 2017 which have created “Fair and Welcoming Community” resolutions.
While it is accurate to state the Section 287 (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act does permit local law enforcement agencies to request training by the Department of Homeland Security to serve as deputy immigration agents, there is nothing in the legislation that requires or mandates this relationship. Certification of 287(g) status would authorize a local police organization to question individuals who are not under arrest about their immigration status. The four week training is entirely voluntary. Thus, the statement that local governments who have adopted resolutions declaring themselves as “sanctuary cities” or “fair and welcoming communities” which Sheriff Gannon asserted in a statement issued on March 3rd and was attributed to Ms. Darling in the August 22, 2017 Parsippany Focus article as being in violation of the Constitution is not accurate. Sanctuary and Welcoming communities are neither violating the Constitution nor violating any federal laws. By stating that “these cities are declaring their refusal to comply with constitutional mandates and their governing bodies are violating the oath they took upon entering their respective offices”, Ms. Darling is drawing a conclusion that is not grounded in law. Legal interpretations may vary based on case law. The INA is a federal statute that defines the duties of trained and sworn Immigration officials. The INA is not a criminal code. It is an administrative code and falls under civil law interpretations. There is nothing in the Constitution nor in the Bill of Rights that mandates that a local municipality enforce a voluntary provision of federal administrative law. As a matter of fact, the tenth Amendment to the Constitution reserves to the states all powers that are not specifically prohibited to them by other provisions of the Constitution.
ABC New’s Ted Hesson, reported on December 27, 2012 in an article dealing with California localities, that the 287(g) program which had been initiated in 1996 had been scaled back in 2012. In 2008 a new “Secure Communities” program which did not include the Task force agreements went into effect. Henson reported that by 2013, 97 percent of jurisdictions across the country had implemented the Secure Communities program, whereas only 57 law enforcement agencies in 21 states had entered into 287 (g) agreements, with that number of agencies most probably being reduced after the 2013 expiration of the street-level agreements. Sheriff Gannon also drew this distinction at his March 28th presentation, indicating that once an individual has been arrested, that arrestee’s finger prints are passed through a screening process that enables ICE agents to request that an individual whose finger prints hit a match in their records be detained. Sanctuary cities are mandated by the New Jersey state Attorney General to comply with this provision and do so. The major difference is that under 287 (g), individuals may be profiled prior to arrest and held. Under the Secure Cities program, there must first be an arrest. The working relationship between local municipalities and ICE only became an issue again after a series of punitive Presidential Executive were announced at the end of January. Several of those Executive Orders are currently being challenged in the courts.
Immigration law since 1920 has been based on a quota system with priorities given to close family members of American citizens, people possessing needed talents and skills and refugees fleeing from life threatening situations. During the past two decades, a narrative has been advanced linking people not born or naturalized residing here with increases in criminal activity. Overstaying a visa or entering the United States without required documentation is not a criminal offense. It is a civil offense. Data from a 2010 American Community Survey found that “roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 2.2 percent of the native born. This disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990 and 2000 decennial censuses.” The 2010 Census data which compared incarceration rates for three central American countries, El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala, who comprise the largest number of unauthorized American immigrants demonstrated a 10.7 percent incarceration rate for native-born men without a high school diploma, while only 2.8 percent of foreign-born Mexican men, and 1.7 percent each of foreign born Salvadoran and Guatemalan men.” Census reports “between 1990 and 2013 show that the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 7.9 percent to 12.1 percent and the number of unauthorized immigrants more than tripled form 3.5 million to 11.2 million.” FBI data for that same time frame indicate that there was a 48 percent decline in violent crime, including falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder.” In addition the rate for property crimes (motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery and burglary) also fell 41 percent. The statistics do not bear out the popular misconception that increased immigration leads to increased crime.
Then Ms. Darling apparently turned her attention to the worn out allegation that large numbers of undocumented immigrants engage in some type of voter fraud citing a 2008 survey where respondents were asked to self-identify if they had voted. This self-identification process alone sheds considerable doubt on the efficacy of the study. In another reference where Ms. Darling relies on a 2013 Census study, self-reporting, enabled respondents to inflate the numbers in ways they perceived provided a personal benefit. In the voter study, Ms. Darling somehow concludes that because 38 out of 32,800 respondents stated that they had voted in the election, one can say that 2.2 million non-citizens voted in the 2008 election. She does not, however, provide any connection between the 38 respondents and the 2.2 million votes. That extrapolation does appear a bit extreme. When I provide a voter registration form to an individual who indicates he/she is not registered, that person must complete demographic information and mail it to the Board of Elections. It is the professionals at the Board of Elections who certify that a person is eligible to vote and then the Board of Elections employee adds that person’s name to the voter record. Are we to believe that local officials in local Boards of Elections across the county were so inept that they certified 2.2 million people as eligible to vote when in fact they were not? When I compare those 38 respondents with the total base of 32.800, I get .001 %. That is a far cry from the 11.2% on which Ms. Darling builds her accusation. I question the math here!
Ms. Darling does correctly conclude that “Democrats are advocating for sanctuary cities that create safe havens”, but not for criminals as she alleges, but for all those who live and work peacefully, contribute to society and enrich our social fabric. Our immigration laws have changed at several points over the years. There was a time in the late 1800 when no Chinese nor Japanese were permitted citizenship. That legislation came immediately after they had completed construction of the rail road lines that connected the continent. In the 1920’s our immigration laws were skewed towards Western Europeans. America has endured a checkered history when it comes to immigration regulations. The current national climate has created an aura of fear and intimidation, demonizing certain groups of people and falsely maligning people who ask no more than to contribute to the dynamic fabric of American life. It has become a frightening place for many of our children. Morris County has large segments of immigrant communities, especially in Parsippany with over 55% of the immigrant population coming from South Asia. Parsippany has been touted as a possible emerging New Jersey silicon valley. There is no time in this response to even begin to document the treatment of individuals in ICE custody housed in “for-profit” detention centers. Immigration is a key issue in Morris County economic development. We need the talents and skills or our large immigrant communities. We cannot afford to isolate and denigrate them.
It has taken a long time for our law enforcement officials to realize that the opioid epidemic is much more of a medical than it is a criminal problem. The sheriff has just recently announced a Hope One unit in the jails to service those prisoners addicted to drugs. This inclusion is definitely a step in the right direction, but consider the people who could have been saved from police records had this unit been operational much earlier in time! We can accomplish much more when we agree to work together, than when we attempt to tear one another apart.
I am proud to share that the totally Republican Borough Council in Chatham, where I live, passed our own version of the resolution and reaffirmed our promise to be a “fair and welcoming community” in April of this year. I hope that Chatham can continue to be a shining example for the rest of Morris County for what can be accomplished when people work together in community! We must not allow ourselves to fall prey to fear mongering and false accusations.