Rounding Up the Illegals

Steven Taylor provides a long answer to my largely rhetorical question yesterday morning: Why didn’t we go out and arrest all the illegal aliens who showed up for yesterday’s marches across the country. The answer is complicated and multi-pronged but includes this observation:

Do we really want police going around demanding documents from anyone who looks like he or she might be from Latin America? There are millions of citizens, many of whom have family going back generations in this country, whose physical appearance is such that they might be an illegal immigrant. Should they have to produce documents because they have brown-ish skin and their last name is Garcia, Hernandez or Gomez?

This is indeed problematical and enough to give us pause. Of course, a reluctance to profile or ask for identification combined with a lack of criminal sanction for those somehow caught anyway creates a de facto open borders policy.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ICallMasICM says:

    Since so many illegals are extending us the courtesy of gathering in one place we should at least enforce the law. What’s so hard about that?

  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    If the only thing they had going for the search was the looks, I would agree. The fact that they are at a rally supporting criminal activity (illegally entering the country) is also not enough for probable cause for any one individual.

    But a 100% check or a random check would be legal under the supreme court rules (taking this in accordance with their rulings on immigration stops within a few hundred miles of the border and with sobriety check points.

    The real issue is not could they, but the practical impact. If you have a crowd of 50,000 or so and start trying to check papers, you better have a lot of back up. And the surge of the crowd trying to get away would be potentially deadly with a lot of people being trampled.

    Now a raid over the next several weeks of all businesses that were shut down would make a lot of sense.

    The solution to this mess has four prongs.
    1) Secure the border. This is likely to mean a physical wall with sound detection for tunnels along the border. I don’t think the Canadian border requires the same measures. This won’t stop all illegal aliens (e.g. boats), but it would certainly cut down on the flow.

    2) Enforce the employer sanctions. We may need some new laws, but enforcing the existing ones would be a great start. The primary incentive is work, so cutting off the incentive will reduce the flow.

    3) Withhold federal funds for states that provide services to illegal aliens. The states have a right to decide if they want to ask or not ask about alien status. But the federal government should not provide funds for states that aren’t helping. If the state is rich enough to also support illegal aliens, then they are rich enough to do without federal funds.

    4) Reform the immigration laws. We currently grant citizenship to anyone born here, regardless of the parents legality and encourage the immigration of relatives over skill set. We should have an immigration policy that emphasizes the contribution the immigrant will make to the country. This should include a guest worker program. No applications for the guest worker or immigration should be allowed from within the US for illegal aliens. Prior arrests for being an illegal alien should also be a bar to applications. Make being an illegal alien a bar to future legitimate chances will also stem the tide. Citizenship of the children born here should follow the parents citizenship. If the parents are legally working on becoming citizens, then granting US citizenship to children born here when the parents gain citizenship is fair.

    Will this solve the problems of all 12 million illegal aliens tomorrow? No. But it will stem the tide of illegal aliens, stop the increases and gradually reduce the numbers as the jobs go to legitimate guest workers rather than to illegals based on employer sanctions.

  3. stevehar says:

    I’m sure there are technically plausable methods of rounding up large groups of all the “usual suspects”.

    A better question is to test the fear and logic of the pople who what to do this. This is not a technical problem with a technical solution.

    Do you really want roundups, new identity cards, larger governmental agencies to disposition and deport all the “usual suspects”? You want phalanxes of Hoovers and Eichmans conducting roundups city by city, village by village, bus station by bustation?

    Are you real sure who goes into the category “usual suspects”?

    Which people are not “usual suspects”? Do you know which category you are assigned to? Do you know how to get out of a “usual suspect category” if you don’t “belong there”.

    The name of this activity used to be Pogrom. Tell me again what is behind this urgent interest in roundups? Who is driving this? What do they get that they don’t have allready?

  4. legion says:

    Well, even assuming it would be legal to do 100% (or even random) ID checks at such an event, there’s also the sheer logistics of doing that for literally hundreds of thousands of people.

    Bear in mind that, despite the GOP’s best efforts, being here illegally is still not a felony, and there’s this thing called habeas corpus… It would take days (if not weeks)to control, contain, and ID that many people. And that’s only if you take every state, local, and fed cop you can find off other duties to do the processing.

  5. DC Loser says:

    Wasn’t there a recent Supreme Court decision about random ID checks. I recall a case of an African American man who liked to take walks, sometimes going through White neighborhoods. The police would stop him and ask for ID, and he would decline because they had no probable cause to stop him and ask. I’m not sure about the outcome, but didn’t he win the case?

  6. DC Loser says:

    A related case in the supreme court

  7. Christopher says:

    LOL! You guys are all so hilarious!

    You think we need random ID checks?!? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!

    Um, local government GIVES illegals money.
    The Mexican consulate GIVES them documents.
    The schools GIVE their kids education.
    Soon the DMVs will GIVE them drivers licenses.

    If we really wanted to send them back, all we have to do is show up when the illegals show up to collect their welfare! IT’S THAT FRIGGIN SIMPLE! So what does that tell us? It tells us the govt. doesn’t want to send them back, or at least isn’t serious about it.

    Randon ID checks! LOL! You guys r killin me!

  8. mannning says:

    Two points:

    First, we know how to set up and manage a 10 million person “roundup.” It was called the draft in WWII, and we did shuffle those 10 million men and women around the states and all over the world, feeding them, clothing them, training them, caring for illnesses, and so on. Some of the facilities for this are still useable.

    Second, There are, as another poster has point out, places where the illegals congregate, namely their workplaces, their staging places waiting for work, social services, hospitals, the border(?) and DMVs, to name those that come to mind. Plus, those illegals who commit an infraction of our laws by speeding, driving without a license, having an accident, or other run-ins with law enforcement or civil servents are able to be identified by the officer involved. We may never find many illegals, but a steady push of this sort would make a big dent.

    Why is it that we have to support unemployed and unskilled illegals again?