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Law Enforcement’s Role in Immigration

Law Enforcement’s Role in Immigration

Bill Phipps / SWAT Digest

Since Immigration matters are usually handled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the interior of the United States and by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at our borders, local law enforcement officers have taken a “hands off” attitude towards immigration enforcement. Simply put – local law enforcement officers can’t enforce Federal law so they don’t concern themselves with immigration or they have their “hands tied” by politicians to immigration issues.

On September 1, 2004, 34 Chechen terrorists seized a school in Beslan, Russia taking 1343 students, parents and teachers hostage. On September 3, 2004 the incident ended with 338 hostages dead – including 179 children under the age of 17. There were also an additional 330 hostages severely injured. There is nothing that will tear your heart out more than walking through the “new” cemetery in Beslan and looking at the photographs of the children on their grave markers who perished. Chechen terrorists are a particularly brutal bunch of Muslim extremists. The terrorists held the hostages in a hot school gymnasium and did not allow them food or water for almost 3 days.

Hostages resorted to drinking their own urine in order to quench their thirst. The terrorists almost immediately executed the adult male fathers and teachers – some in front of their own children. Included among the terrorists were two Chechen women suicide bombers wearing bomb belts. The terrorists also strung explosive devices filled with shrapnel between the basketball goals for maximum effect. The cause of the bloody end is disputed, however the end result would have been the same no matter who fired the first shot. This was not a typical hostage situation as we are accustomed to here in the United States. These terrorists – like those of September 11, 2001, were intent on killing innocent civilians and children. It was a suicide mission. In addition, in October 2002, Chechen terrorists held over 800 hostages in a theatre in downtown Moscow. The Russian forces pumped a nerve gas into the theatre to put all in the theatre “to sleep”. The “sleep” was permanent for 130 people when Russian Officials refused to tell doctors how to counteract the nerve gas. Chechens have bombed subways, concerts, airplanes, hospitals, and trains in Russia.

However, I think it is important to understand that we here in the United States are much more vulnerable to this type of attack, than those in Russia were. It happened there and it can happen here. Our immigration laws are designed for an orderly admittance of foreigners to our country and unrestricted travel from coast to coast – not the flood of illegal aliens able to travel all over our country as we have witnessed. Russia has very “tight” immigration and migration laws. I am in no way an advocate for restricting our freedoms or becoming more like Russia, but I think there are some important lessons from Beslan that we should all heed. Foreigners in Russia for the most part must have a visa or permission to enter and travel in Russia. Russian citizens going from Oblast to Oblast (State to State) require a pass through a security checkpoint. The “Militsa” (local police) don’t stop and question everyone – but they have the authority to do so. Even on the street – anytime and anywhere any local law enforcement officer can ask you for your “papers”. They are trained and know what is valid and what is not. In addition – people traveling in Russia must “register” with the government OVID “Office of the Interior Ministry” for any stay in any place longer than 72 hours.

Overstaying a visa, or not registering with the local authorities can land you in jail or cost you a heavy fine. Most US law enforcement officers have no idea what a valid visa looks like, a Legal Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) or what they mean. A visa is a document in the page of the persons International Passport that allows them to enter the US for a specific period of time for a specific purpose. A visa is issued by the United States Department of State at a US Consulate abroad. Most visas are valid for 6 months or less, there are some exceptions however. Legal Permanent Resident or “Green Cards” are issued by the US Department of Homeland Security through the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS). There have been several variations of the card over the years. The older cards were valid “forever”. The newer cards are valid for a period of 10 years then must be renewed. The newer cards have a photograph and fingerprint of the bearer. On the back of the card is a large black stripe when held at an angle reveals a hologram of the bearers photograph and fingerprint, as well as an outline of the United States. All USCIS documents have an expiration date on them.

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