"Locking up the innocent to deter the guilty is not a policy that is necessary to national security or good for American values," the Chicago Tribune complains. "Innocent"? There is no dispute that the Haitian illegal aliens are guilty of subverting our immigration laws. Ashcroft is simply insisting that the federal government detain asylum-seekers such as David Joseph in order to validate their identities and verify their claims of persecution.
As the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General has noted repeatedly, the "catch and release" policy for illegal aliens has been a nightmare for immigration enforcement. The inspector general reported in February 2003 that for aliens ordered deported by the immigration court system, 97 percent of all asylum-seekers who were released from immigration custody disappeared and were never deported; 94 percent of aliens from terror-supporting countries who were released from immigration detention walked out of custody and out of sight, never to be deported; and 87 percent of all aliens released from immigration custody were never caught again, and were never deported.
The Ashcroft-bashing Chicken Littles raise some valid concerns about striking the proper balance between liberty and security. But the truth is that they have resisted every sensible and effective immigration enforcement measure since Sept. 11 -- from cooperative immigration enforcement efforts between local cops and the feds, to Operation Tarmac, which has nabbed nearly 1,000 illegal aliens working in airports, to the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, which has stopped 330 known foreign criminals and nearly a dozen known terrorists from entering the country.
The sky hasn't fallen since Sept. 11, 2001. Thank Ashcroft, not the alarmists, for that.