The Decision to Veto CB9 and the Inability to Override the Veto were for Pure Politics

At his joint address to congress, President Trump used most of his speech to paint a picture of an alternative universe where crime by undocumented immigrants is rampant and out of control. Yet, we know that the data tells us otherwise. According to the American Immigration Council — between 1990 and 2013 — as foreign-born share of the US population grew from 7.9 to 13.1 percent and number of undocumented immigrants tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million, FBI data shows that violent crime rates declined 48%. A 2010 American Community Survey showed that while 3.3% of native-born male Americans are incarcerated, this number is 1.6% when it applies to immigrants.

At the same speech, Trump announced the creation of the so-called “Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office” or VOICE, within the Department of Homeland Security. In an environment where the threat from immigrants is nonexistent and from an administration that made the alienation of immigrants and bigotry the hallmark of its election campaign, there can only be one purpose for such a pernicious organization: to target vulnerable undocumented immigrants and start separating families indiscriminately. This will satisfy Trump’s base and mainly his white-supremacist chief strategist — Stephen Bannon.

Why is this important in the context of CB9? This political organization within a government agency will be used to force local jurisdictions to cooperate with federal authorities in the removal of people who have not committed crimes and wreak havoc in our communities. Howard County would be forced to change its policy that CB9 would have codified by the whim of a bureaucrat. It was not CB9 that was a “hollow political statement”. That was the announcement of the continuation of the status quo that Councilman Weinsten and County Executive Kittleman made on Wednesday, March 8th to attempt to appease an impatient electorate that can see that politics has been more important than policy in this particular decision.

The main reason behind the opposition has been the question of safety. However, a study conducted by Tom K. Wong, a political scientist at the University of California concluded that “for the first time we’re kind of seeing that crime rates are lower when localities stay out of the business of federal immigration enforcement”. Counties that did not comply with ICE requests experienced 35.5 fewer incidences of crime per 10,000 people than those that did. This is why the concerns that Mr. Kittleman cited as the reason for vetoing CB9 — a decision that he made even before any hearing was conducted — ring hollow. Every single county or city that has decided to codify policies such as CB9 faces the same predicaments that Mr. Kittleman described. So the facts and existing data do not help bear out his reasoning. Absent any such explanation, the only conclusion I can reach is that politics was the main factor.

We are not debating high or low taxes anymore. We are not debating left vs. right anymore. We are debating right vs. wrong and are demanding that our local leaders work to protect our vulnerable from an Administration that has no moral authority or mandate to enact the kinds of actions that it proposes to take. Opponents of the bill cite high taxes and schools that are over populated as reasons to oppose CB9, except the purpose of CB9 is not to enforce immigration law, which is squarely in the purview of the federal government.

Atrocities occur in increments. First most people do not believe that such terrible things could happen and will dismiss others who raise such concerns as alarmists. Then small incremental changes take place that create slight discomfort in some but not enough to create outrage. These small changes pile up and before we know it, circumstances become irreversible. Then those who ignored it — the indifferent — will get gripped with fear or accept the changes in order to survive — the path of least resistance — while the alarmists are persecuted as instigators through the inertia of powerful forces. Let’s not wait until this force becomes too great to overcome.