Traffic stops for speeding in Pennsylvania often lead to finding illegal aliens, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. State troopers in the past six months have stopped almost 300 illegal aliens along interstates 80 and 79 in an operation known as Stop Terrorism On Patrol, created by the state Department of Homeland Security. If suspects can’t verify they are in this country legally, police take them back to the barracks and run their identification information through four computer systems to check immigration status and criminal history. If the illegal alien hasn’t committed any crimes, it’s up to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) to decide what should be done next.
Across the country, more than 22,000 illegal aliens are being held. Because space is somewhat limited, detention is reserved for those who are dangerous — criminals or aliens who continue to return even after deportation. There are an estimated 8 million undocumented aliens in the U.S., and 361,000 of those are considered absconders, those who have been given notice by the government to appear at a hearing but have failed to show up. Victor Romero, a professor of immigration law at Penn State University, said he didn’t believe state police should be enforcing immigration rules. That is a federal mandate, he said, not one to be handled by the state and state resources. Romero believes that using immigration policy to catch terrorists is suspect in and of itself. If a person is in this country illegally, and he’s committed no crime, the worst that can happen is deportation. “If the person is a terrorist, aren’t they going to come back anyway?” Romero said.