After nearly three years of embracing a hard left-wing policy to avoid enforcing illegal immigration, in the space of just forty-eight hours the incumbent Sheriff flip-flopped to a position far to the right.
What caused it? Two days before the flip-flop I called him out for his liberal policies and credited them for creating a dangerous, de facto Sanctuary County.
But there’s a problem: changing written policy alone, which is all he did, is just a trick to give the appearance of moving to the right in order to pander to the conservative base of our county. The Sheriff has never brought back the actual enforcement program he terminated in 2015. He also has not committed to renewing an illegal immigrant detention contract with the federal government set to expire in August 2018.
Policy without an enforcement mechanism is worthless. Policy without a jailhouse contract to house illegals is equally useless.
The details of this apparent attempt to fool the voters of El Paso County follow, but first, I’ll tell you how and why I am different.
My Conservative Beliefs are Unwavering
I am a Reagan Conservative with solid, unwavering principles and beliefs. When I address a group, it doesn’t matter who they are. Everyone hears a consistent message. I don’t change my positions to suit the audience.
This also means I will take the political risk that my stance on issues may not be popular, but I’m guided by my core beliefs and not what will get me a few extra votes from a particular group.
In short, I don’t pander.
When politicians change positions faster than a NASCAR pit crew swaps tires, they show they lack core beliefs. If the voters cannot count on consistent principles on the campaign trail, then what are they to expect when the individual holds office?
What I’ve found is that I may get pushback from people who disagree with my positions, but they always respect me for my principled beliefs.
It’s a measure of integrity.
The Flip-Flop Timeline
I’ll refer to this timeline to guide things since it helps to visually capture the anatomy of the Sheriff’s flip-flop on immigration enforcement:
May 1, 2015: Incumbent Sheriff issued a press release announcing the end of cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the 287(g) program. Some key quotes from the PR are that EPSO:
“…will no longer participate in the 287(g) Program…”
“…will not continue to hold inmates that have been detained under the Program who have no local or Federal charges pending.”
There’s no equivocation in these words, no room for misinterpretation. There is no straddling of any fence, no middle ground, no program left intact to even write a policy for. This was a final act and cooperation ended.
Additionally, the last line of the PR gives some insight into perhaps the real motivation for ending cooperation with ICE: “The end of this Program signifies the Sheriff’s Office commitment to fiscal responsibility and the strengthening of relationships with all citizens of the community.”
As I’ve written about previously, the money excuse fails to hold water since the federal government’s reimbursement rates for the program exceeded the county’s costs, so it actually was a money-MAKER, not a drain.
We’re left with the last half of the sentence for the real reason: pandering to the left-wing of our community.
I’ve heard the Sheriff make mention in presentations before the Latino community that his decision on 287(g) was to help foster trust between the community and the police. He’s cited the Ferguson riots of August 2014 and the ‘Hands up, don’t shoot!’ movement.
I’m all for good community relations, but NOT at the expense of law ENFORCEMENT.
I happen to think we ‘strengthen community relationships’ when we get lawbreakers off our streets, and not when we catch and release illegal immigrants.
March 1, 2017: The Undersheriff interviewed with Colorado Public Radio to defend the incumbent Sheriff’s decision to terminate the 287(g) program. Read: ‘Why El Paso County’s Sheriff Doesn’t Plan To Help With Trump’s Immigration Enforcement’
The headline alone is enough to tell you the Sheriff’s true intent about immigration enforcement.
The Undersheriff cites two reasons for ending the program: the costs (bogus, as noted above), and the parochial and narrow-sighted claim that it only benefits the federal government.
I happen to think anything that makes our streets safe benefits the PEOPLE, so I’m unconcerned with which agency gets the ‘attaboys.’
One other important point. The Undersheriff, when asked about a second, separate program involving a jailhouse contract with ICE, would NOT commit to renewing it upon its expiration in August 2018. In fact, he gives every indication it will end without renewal.
When that happens, and in consideration of the fact the 287(g) program is already gone, where does that leave El Paso County with respect to criminal illegal immigration enforcement?
In my judgment, when you terminate your only two programs of cooperation with ICE — when 100% of your immigration enforcement efforts end — you are left with a de facto Sanctuary County status.
January 16, 2018: I made my first post critical of the incumbent Sheriff’s dangerous decision to end the 287(g) program that resulted in El Paso County’s de facto Sanctuary status:
I followed it up with a second post on January 20, 2018:
January 18, 2018: Within two days of my first critical post, the incumbent Sheriff revised the EPSO Policy Manual and included a wholly new policy on immigration:
Heretofore, there was no such policy and the previous Policy 414 was about tuition assistance: See previous Policy Manual Table of Contents.
Here’s what stands out about 2018’s Policy 414. First, it’s four and one-half pages of new policy to replace zero pages of policy before January 18, 2018. Second, it is riddled with references to the 287(g) program which the Sheriff ended in 2015.
It is disingenuous to mention the 287(g) program in a policy when the program no longer exists.
Was this an attempt to appease the right-wing base of our red county, to fool them into thinking the incumbent Sheriff, who coincidentally is running for reelection, is suddenly tough on immigration enforcement?
It would appear the Sheriff has weaponized policy purely as a political stunt. That’s as cold and cynical as it gets, particularly since public safety is at risk.
Policy without an enforcement program is as worthless as the paper on which it is printed.
We’ve seen something similar with how EPSO approaches sexual harassment. It has a great written policy, but allegedly fails to enforce it consistently, sometimes leading to accusations of retaliation by alleged victims of harassment. These incidents have led to lawsuits against the Sheriff and the county and siphoning off more taxpayer money to settle them.
Having a ‘tough-sounding’ immigration enforcement policy, but no willpower or mechanism to enforce it (i.e., NO 287(g) program and a jailhouse contract about to expire), is shameful and deceitful pandering to the conservative base.
January 19, 2018: The incumbent Sheriff takes to social media to proclaim he fully cooperates with ICE and to give the impression he’s tough on immigration enforcement.
What he fails to tell you is that he stopped cooperation with ICE’s 287(g) in 2015, and that by August of 2018, the only remaining area of cooperation (jail contract) with ICE will expire with no indication of renewal.
How can one claim to be fully cooperating with ICE after ending cooperation with ICE?
Why brag about having a contract with ICE to hold illegals when that contract is set to expire without any commitment to renewing it this summer?
If It Weren’t So Serious (and Embarrassing), It Would be Funny
When politicians flip-flop on major issues such as this, it’s a sign of weakness and worry. The Clintons were notorious for relying on focus-groups to tell them which way the wind was blowing so that they could adjust their political sails and pander to certain demographics.
It’s the hallmark of liberalism, the signature of progressivism, and it comes about when a politician lacks core beliefs and values and seeks votes even at the cost of credibility.
I WILL End our de Facto Sanctuary Status
What I admired the most about President Ronald Reagan was his steadfast consistency on core beliefs. It didn’t matter who he spoke before, the message was always the same.
I am consistent in my core beliefs. True conservatives are.
I have been clear about my stance on criminal illegal immigration enforcement, and cooperating with President Trump on his plans and policies is key.
- I will reinstate the 287(g) program.
- Our prioritized interest will be with criminal illegal immigrants.
- I will renew the jailhouse contract with ICE.
- I will clean up foreign organized criminal activity, both the drug trade and human trafficking (especially when children are victimized in the sex industry).
- I will make our county safer.
My message, plans, policies, and core beliefs tomorrow will be the same as they are today.
I don’t flip-flop. I don’t pander.