Watch ’em run.

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — The sheriff’s department has developed a remarkably effective — and controversial — way of catching illegal immigrants: Deputies in patrol cars pull up to a construction site in force, and watch and see who runs.

Those who take off are chased down and arrested on charges such as trespassing, for cutting through someone else’s property, or loitering, for hiding out in someone’s yard, or reckless driving, for speeding off in a car.

U.S. immigration authorities are then given the names of those believed to be in this country illegally.

Predictably, the American Criminal Liberties Union is raising a stink:

Immigrant advocates say the technique is repugnant, and the ACLU says its constitutionality is questionable.

Again, ACLU: They’re not US citizens. What part of that don’t you understand? That doesn’t mean that they have no rights, but they don’t have the full rights of US citizens.

I think that local efforts like this one, and ordinances in Farmers Branch, TX and other places explain part of the DC crowd’s desperation to get “comprehensive” reform passed despite having to ram it through without even allowing senators to read all the amendments: The issue is going to get away from them, and into hands that are more diffuse and therefore less easily controlled (or bought). Once it gets away from them it’s gone for good, and the business lobbies that crave the cheap illegal labor will have to work (or buy) beyond the beltway and politicians to keep the flow going. And at the local level, it’s easier to turn out pro-amnesty politicians–just ask the former council members of Herndon, VA. Local pols may cost less, but there are more of them to buy. Shamnesty would have kept more enforcement power concentrated in Washington, where the business lobbies believe it belongs.

Tags: immigration