Military and Police

President Trump’s Bold Immigration Initiative and the Law Enforcement Logistics Needed to Succeed

“I am all for diversity providing it does not require trading-off high standards, integrity, dignity, and the most ideal candidates to succeed the mission.”

President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a huge wall at our southern border, round-up deportees, and bolster national security by toughening our immigration stance is picking up momentum. White House reports indicate that the drive to hire thousands of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents is on, blueprints detailing the border wall are now finalized, and the Department of Justice is in full-swing with mandates for state attorney generals to designate a prosecutor whose sole job is to ensure immigration laws are fully and promptly enforced.

Some folks may not favor President Trump, lambasting his executive orders, his statements, actions, cabinet choices, and more at every turn (I’ll guess a greater portion of those stone-throwers are Hillary hold-over types). Others support his full-steam-ahead trajectory as robustly as they crave taking our nation back from the armpits of the former White House administration. Nevertheless, I stymie over some of the latest intent with respect to hiring the 15,000 thousand federal law enforcers necessary to effectuate our immigration stance.

The Wall

Several politicos in Washington, DC have publicized their opposition to the expenditures for President Trump’s border wall. Still, a re-appropriation grant of $20 million was given to Customs and Border Protection to commence building a portion of the wall in the most sensitive and highly vulnerable areas. Albeit a tiny plug, it’s a start. And I trust the capable minds of our Border Protection agents who certainly know their jurisdiction and where, exactly, our nation is most prone to intrusion. I read much about the difficult terrain upon which the wall, in its entirety, is to be erected. Frankly, I am comforted by the cadre of reliable engineers whose keen minds will work out the kinks, wrinkles, mounds, water arteries, cacti battles, and tunnel-digging preventions.

In a keen proposition discussed with LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham via interview on “The Laura Ingraham Show”, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ingeniously suggested that all the federal funds that are withheld from jurisdictions operating as sanctuary city, county, or state be funneled to finance the border wall project. It is a compliance-based initiative which, complimented by Governor Abbott’s idea, can handsomely contribute to border wall costs. Governor Abbott speaks from experience about this notion. He withdrew a chunk of funding for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office stemming from the refusal of the current sheriff, Sally Hernandez, to reverse its sanctuary county stance.

To defend her sanctuary county complicity, Sheriff Hernandez produced a video statement explaining her philosophies pertaining to immigration enforcement and inter-agency interactions (or lack thereof), with her pronounced feelings having more to do with obstruction than the wrongs generated by or in sanctuary county premises. Some of Sheriff Hernandez’s dialogue is accurate; yet, sanctuary county declaration is abjectly preposterous. Sheriff Hernandez calls herself a “good steward of public safety.” How can a sheriff—an elected official—bill herself a good steward while knowingly safeguarding illegal immigrants, some of whom may have a propensity to violence against law-abiding American citizens?

I think Governor Abbott is right on the money!

The US Justice Department

With the hubbub stemming from the Trump Administration’s immigration enforcement executive orders and the proposed policies to carry out the objectives, lacking until recently has been alignment of designees to facilitate the process. Recently, however, there has been some progress in this arena. In particular, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicized mandates for attorney generals in all states to assign a federal prosecutor (“Border Security Coordinator”) to solely drive the immigration deportation proceedings while also adding immigration-specific judges to preside over US immigration law courts.

I, for one, find it not only reassuring that our commander-in-chief is delivering on his campaign promises, but I am also elated to be exposed to his carefully engineered plan for eradicating our country of intruders who circumvented our national border without formal invitation. Lining up our ducks to fulfill national security initiatives is essential, providing we do so cohesively, consistently, and painstakingly. This is especially true where the hiring process is concerned. In fact, I am disheartened by the notion that DHS is pondering lowering hiring standards to more expediently recruit the requisite thousands of new Border Protection and ICE agents to carry out immigration enforcement laws and objectives.

The Federal Force

There’s been a back-and-forth suggestion that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering lowering federal agent hiring standards which, if it happens it will counter the department’s motto: With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values. Elements of that credo will be weakened if DHS actually forgoes polygraphs for federal agent candidates, administers a softened written exam, conducts a loose background investigation, and eases physical agility testing, as has been purported. These counterintuitive measures will fling open the aptly secured vault door, allowing the flow of rotten apples to tumble in and spoil the law enforcement landscape.

At one point, CBP considered arbitrarily using polygraphs for candidates. That notion smells of discrimination accusations and is sure to backfire. Since federal labor laws admonish against discrimination practices, the federal government applying polygraphs for some and not others will result in litigation proceedings, no matter the viability of each candidate. Doing it across the board is the only way. There is no allowance for “having flexibility” in polygraph applications, as mentioned by CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan in a late February 2017 interview. Inflexibility is the correct path regarding police hiring principles.

“We do face headwinds,” McAleenan conceded. I concur, and I add CBP and the federal government will face far more than headwinds—more like a tsunami—should they in any way abstain from diligent and comprehensive law enforcement hiring practices. As a taxpayer, I do not mind paying my fair share for finding the finest to combat crime on the front lines. Conversely, I twitch at the notion of tax dollars going to settle the completely avoidable lawsuits which will surely follow.

Human nature dictates some with police authority will be lured by, tainted with, and submissive to illegal favors in exchange for turning a blind eye to nefarious cartel activity. Empirical law enforcement processing and vetting is at least a first-chance to sift through character traits that signify red flags and disqualify those types from poisoning the punch (the Constitution).

I am all for diversity providing it does not require trading-off high standards, integrity, dignity, and the most ideal candidates to succeed the mission. The Obama Administration and former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch sought to implement their 21st Century Policing initiative which, boldly enough, clearly spelled out lowering hiring standards across the nation, specifically toning-down the written examinations for minority police officer candidates. Like a swift kick to the teeth, the Obama campers brazenly wished to open the floodgates to police recruits by relaxing written examinations and by overlooking criminal history.

Frankly, haste so often creates waste, not only in terms of upfront costs thrown out the window but in a more hefty toll in regards to liability, lawsuits, and settlements stemming from tragic mistakes and/or outright corruption caused by poorly vetted agents who have no business donning a badge, a gun, and the significant power and authority that comes with representing the US Constitution.

Moreover, there is a huge hypocrisy inherent in the process of hiring non-vetted federal cops to vet, screen, scrutinize, and detain suspected illegal immigrants at the border or elsewhere. America would never live down that contradiction in terms, and that is yet another reason to steer clear of such hastiness. Patience is the mortar that we need to correctly solidify this particular project, blasting a gaping hole in our country’s integrity is not the right path to take.

The contingent of law enforcers on the front lines in any jurisdiction should never have to stoop so low as to conform and play giddy-up to meet a plan; it should always be the other way around. Sacrificing quality to satisfy numbers and agreements is akin to shooting oneself in the proverbial foot, and the hemorrhage will flood needlessly.

We can’t afford to do such a thing here, ever. We are far better than that.

The Hiccups

As I have written about before, lowering standards for any occupational title brings nothing but trouble. If reducing hiring practices to fill up vacancies quicker is part of any plan, the plan is highly rife with unmitigated deficiencies. As a taxpayer, I am aghast at the idea of blindly forging on with this plan in the name of garnering the body count to effect change.

In law enforcement circles, a comprehensive hiring plan is paramount, given the significant power and authority which comes with it. The past is replete with indelible lessons indicating how misguided planners have imploded or exploded the objectives of a mission. As has been tested and failed many times over in past decades, lower standards in policing invites troubled applicants, often culminating in corruption and the like. We have walked in those murky (risky), mucky (self-defeating) waters already, becoming part of problems rather than solutions. Why would we wish to go back there? Why not exercise what we know is tried, true, and noble?

Faulty, haphazard law enforcement practices can culminate in deeply grievous results, namely police officer fatalities. To be fair, over-the-top vetting is a two-way street: saving the citizens from poorly-screened police candidates also equates to saving those ill-suited for law enforcement from succumbing to the very perilous profession for which they are ill-equipped to perform. We don’t just need bodies, we need capable warriors to embody the mission.

The law enforcement processing cycle is neither a new nor a sophisticated puzzle. Do you see the difference between ill-fitting (loose cannons) and tight-fitting (federal’s finest) pieces?

Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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