Guest Editorial: Abolishing ICE Would Turn Blind Eye to Dangerous Criminals

by Barnstable County Sheriff James Cummings
Barnstable County Sheriff James Cummings

Guest Editorial

“Abolish I.C.E?”

“Colossally misguided.”

That’s my response to the most reckless idea injected into the correction and law enforcement debate in many years.  Exhibit A for me would be a 55-year-old Brazilian man currently in our custody and awaiting trial out of Barnstable Superior Court. 

The charges are rape, assault and battery, and soliciting a felony.  Thanks to our recent decision to apply for and join I.C.E.’s 287(g) program, we’re now certain that this individual will not fall through the cracks.  After his state case is adjudicated, his life thereafter begins with government-supervised passage back to Brazil – having twice entered our country quite illegally.   

But if we abolish I.C.E. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), 287(g) goes away with it.  At the county end, where four newly trained and certified deputies now participate, the program operates solely within the confines of our jail.  Under this enforcement model, the illegally entering aliens we deal with must first be arrested and charged with an unrelated crime by local law enforcement.  Not until he or she is brought here, to our jail in Bourne, does I.C.E. screening activity even begin.

The program goal is straightforward: Enhance public safety by identifying aliens, lodging immigration detainers, and initiating removal proceedings (with appropriate documentation) on those criminal aliens in our custody.

Some on the far left are attempting to walk back their extremist proposals.  They meant to say reform, or so they say, which has its own synonyms.  What they claim they meant to say is I.C.E. needs to be reorganized, restructured, modified.  I’m not buying it.   Meanwhile, and by all accounts, much of the left is not  backing off.  The makeshift sheets and placards continue to appear, and the word that screams is “Abolish,” leaving us to think . . . . what?

Me, I’d prefer the opportunity to reiterate what I told the press last month when we learned of this accused rapist’s two surreptitious border crossings: “This cooperative program [with I.C.E.] is officially off to a good start.  The end result will never change.  It will make our communities and our country a safer place. If that means doing it one case at a time, so be it.  This is exactly why we wanted to be involved.  So individuals like this would not be released into the community in Barnstable County.”

To quote an ancient Chinese proverb: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  We took our inaugural step last month by identifying the first of what I suspect will be others just like him.  So back he will go to Brazil (after serving the state sentence), which brings me to a final point.

It matters not our offender’s country of origin – whether it be Afghanistan, Zimbabwe or somewhere alphabetically in between.   Brazilian or British; Italian, Irish, or Icelandic; Polish, Peruvian, or Pakistani.  Armed with a map of the world and a few darts, he (or she) could be from any of the 223 countries you might hit.  Crimes matter, nationalities do not.

In the end, I trust logic will prevail.  Abolish I.C.E. and allow illegal criminal aliens to remain in this country?  Or follow the rule of law and transport them back from whence they came?  Easy choice, especially when you consider a country without borders is no country at all.     


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