A Fairfax Virginia Cop was suspended for turning a wetback over to ICE. I don’t want to be accused of using the dreaded term “illegal alien.” The officer was subsequently suspended because Fairfax County has declared itself a
wetback paradise sanctuary location. That suspension has now been lifted and the officer is back at work. The Fairfax police administration backed down, due to public pressure from the resulting publicity.
I’m just a broke down retired cop. What do I know? Here are some additional facts. The Fairfax cop was working a wreck. The wetback was one of the driver’s involved. He didn’t have a driver’s license. To quote that famous line from “The Treasure of Sierra Madre”
The driver of one of the vehicles turned out to not have a valid Virginia driver’s license, so the officer ran his name through the DMV and discovered that he was in the country illegally and had a bench warrant out for failing to appear at a deportation hearing. The officer arrested the wetback.
There is a trick question here. I was a cop in south central Texas for thirty years. I have played in the wetback follies all during that time. There are rules to the game.
- A wetback isn’t a wetback, even when he self identifies as a wetback, until an ICE agent says he/she is.
- A determining factor in establishing a wetback’s status is how much effort an ICE officer has to expend. A single wetback detained by police outside the ICE office, during business hours? His ass is gone. Twenty wetbacks on the side of the highway, fifty miles from the nearest ICE office at 2 am. No ICE interest. They are good to go.
- Local officers have no authority to arrest wetbacks due to immigration status. They can arrest for any other violations of law.
- The problem arises when a wetback is arrested for a state and local offense and is booked into jail. The arresting officer or jailer is given a verbal assurance of ICE interest. Many times ICE fails to follow up in a timely manner. The problem occurs when the wetback makes bond on the original charges, but ICE fails to show.
- Southbound wetbacks do not evoke any interest on the part of ICE.
- During Presidential election years with a democrat incumbent, ICE will only make an arrest if the wetback enters the local ICE office and pisses on his desk.
The point everybody misses in the case of the Fairfax officer is that he didn’t arrest the wetback based on an ICE detainer. Local officers don’t have access to the ICE database. Unless things have changed since I retired, an NCIC “hit” has to be backed up with a warrant. In fact the NCIC hit is not to be taken at face value. It serves mainly as a pointer. This means the agency that entered the information has a warrant for the individual. The next step is to check with that agency to determine if the warrant is still valid. In this case the warrant was valid and the case agent was in the immediate area. He agreed to come to the scene and take the wetback.
Let me put it to you another way: A Federal Judge (in this case) issued an arrest warrant for the individual that commands a law enforcement agent to bring the defendant before the court.
When it comes to avoiding paperwork patrol cops are efficient. The suspended officer had two choices. He could: (1) complete his accident report, issue appropriate citations, prepare a booking slip, write an arrest report, drive to the jail and book the wetback on the warrant. Or (2) finish his accident report, write his tickets, high five the ICE agent, and wave bye-bye to the wetback as he disappears into the sunset, handcuffed in the back of the ICE unit. It’s really a no-brainer.
It is not surprising that the Chief of police decided to back down. I’m going to guess that a complaint decrying the officer’s treatment, postmarked Bug Tussle, Alabama had no effect on the Chief’s decision.
However a telephone call from the United States Attorney’s Office or the office of the Judge who signed the warrant may have had an effect. Especially when the conversation discussed the Chief’s actions in light of:
18 U.S. Code § 1512.Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant
Suspending the officer, a witness in a Federal prosecution, for his actions could be viewed as retaliation and witness tampering.
It has been my experience that many police chiefs have no objection to giving anal sex, to a subordinate. However they have no interest in being on the receiving end.