the enforcement-only option

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 16, 2006

My nephew Jim is a very good driver, with aspirations to join the NASCAR circuit. Last week he was pulled over by a state trooper, who thought Jim's speed-- clocked at 114 mph-- was excessive.

Now notice: nobody was hurt; no harm was done. The road was clear and dry; Jim was fully in control. The fact that he's 14 years old, and doesn't yet have his driver's license, is a technicality that should not obscure these facts. Jim's lawyer issued a statement:

It is regrettable that instead of choosing to implement comprehensive traffic reform that can be just and equitable, we have chosen the enforcement path as our response to the traffic problem.

Hauling Jim down to police headquarters, where he was separated from his parents, was an "inhuman" act, the lawyer said. Waxing eloquent, he continued:

I believe that we need a strong, clear and fair traffic policy. It must serve our country's security and prosperity and at the same time be based on the moral values on which all our lives must ultimately rest.

OK, I made up the story. But the quotes (slightly altered) are real. Substitute "immigration" where you see "traffic," and you have the gist of the statement issued by Bishop Arthur Tafoya of Pueblo, Colorado, condemning the "inhuman" federal raids on meat-packing plants where illegal immigrants, using false IDs taken from real citizens, were employed.

Bishop Tafoya said that it was wrong to arrest the illegal workers, wrong to have a law that required them to provide proof of legal residence, and wrong to say that when they gave the names and Social-Security numbers of actual US citizens, they were engaged in identity theft. If the bishop said that it's wrong to break immigration laws, and wrong to pretend that you're someone else, those comments didn't make the paper.

Now think back to my fictional nephew Jim. If he really could operate a car safely at 114 mph, should the law recognize his skill? You could make that argument. Some moralists, however, would make the novel argument that the laws on the books should be obeyed. This is what's known as the enforcement-only option.

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  • Posted by: ladybird - Dec. 18, 2006 6:31 PM ET USA

    We're still waiting - 5 years - for labor certification for our helper. Mistakenly we chose the legal path. She can't sneak in like Mexicans & Latinos. She waits; they cheat; the immigration folks are overwhelmed with the cheats and can't process the honest applicants; and we should feel sorry for them!? It's disgusting! At least in a corrupt society, you'd know which palm to grease and how much! NO! Here you just wait and helplessly watch the queue jumpers get all the attention.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 18, 2006 4:57 PM ET USA

    The poor fool is very confused; the type for whom it would "never occur" that sexually abusing children is criminal ("I thought it was sinful, yes, but a crime?"), and his recognition of inequity is highly selective. What about all those who've applied to immigrate legally, and are waiting in line as the law requires? How stupid of them. What do you expect, though, from a guy who presides over the place which served as the US government's public information distribution center?

  • Posted by: - Dec. 18, 2006 1:12 PM ET USA

    Does anyone know the good Bishop's SSN? I'd love to see him ask for the case against me to be dismissed after I have run up a huge bill in his name!

  • Posted by: Fatimabeliever - Dec. 16, 2006 4:07 PM ET USA

    In otherwords, this Bishop thinks it is okay to steal someone's identity?? Is this new modern teaching?? Would he gladly turn over his identity?? He should ask everyone who has had their identity stolen about the suffering it has caused because those doing the stealing felt they had a right to do it without consent! Or when the person who's identity is stolen finds out and it is often because it has been misused and they now suffers slander or much worst!! Is this the new charity??

  • Posted by: Ignacio177 - Dec. 16, 2006 1:08 PM ET USA

    Law enforcement officers are law enforcement officers their job is to enforce the law. They are part of the executive branch of government that has the same function. It is not their job to selectively enforce the law. Only if the law is against the natural law could an executive morally not do his job. Emigration law is not against the natural law. If the law is bad the legislature should change it. But until then, the executive branch has the legal and moral obligation to enforce the law.