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Dear Editor:

Its interesting that no one has actually seen the Ashcroft proposal to allow state and local police officials to "enforce" immigration laws. That might be because he can't figure out how to write it in a manner that would be constitutional. We should not be intimidated. The Salinas decision is nothing to worry about, because the issue in that case was only a question of whether there was probable cause to make a stop. That isn't new or different and the case isn't even an expansive interpretation of existing law. Actually, there are several other decisions "out there" that would support what Ashcroft wants to do much more than the Salinas case. That's why I think none of this is really serious.

But even if it is serious -- what is meant by "enforcement" of the immigration laws? Does that mean that the police will have the authority to apprehend individuals who have final unexecuted orders of deportation and turn them over to the INS? I see no problem with that.

Does it mean that the police will have the authority to make the determination in the first place whether or not an individual's presence is lawful or, maybe better put, whether the individual has a right to remain in the U.S.? That cannot possibly be, as that is contrary to law and would negate those court cases that require at least minimal levels of due process in deportation hearings.

Does it mean simply that the police will apprehend "suspects" and turn them over to the INS? Let's say that is the case, and now all of these "suspects" will be in line for their deportation hearings. Instead of 4 year backlogs, we will have 10 year or 15 year backlogs in deportation cases (not to mention appeals). The aliens will still remain in the US -- for years -- while waiting for their day in court (even if its just Immigration Court), their labor certs can continue to be worked on, and, well, the laws will change. They always do.

So, I, personally, am not going to get bent out of shape over this proposal. I am more concerned about the things Ashcroft is not seeking publicity about.

Laura Jasinsky


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