By Greg Siskind, AILA Media Committee

The New York Times recently reported on ICE’s new policy of boarding buses at the US-Mexican border that are headed south and asking for passengers to document their immigration status. Persons suspected of being in the country illegally are being arrested and then deported. ICE claims they’re on the lookout for contraband – weapons and cash, for example – and that the deportations are just an aside.

One thousand six hundred (1,600) people have been detained in recent months, according to the Times. As the story notes, many of the passengers leaving are doing so because of the economic downturn as well as tougher immigration enforcement in the US.

The new practice is ridiculous for two basic reasons. First, it’s a waste of resources to target people who are already leaving. And ICE is supposed to be directing its resources to deporting criminals, so it’s hard to see how that mission is advanced.  Second, the bus raids are having the opposite effect of what’s intended – they’re causing people to choose not to leave the US and risk getting arrested. Even anti-immigration groups are questioning ICE’s wisdom in conducting the bus raids. William Gheen, president of ALIPAC – Americans for Legal Immigration PAC – issued a statement re-quoted in the Times saying:

“This is about the only situation we would ever advocate that our immigration laws be waived. We want to encourage illegals to leave America on their own, and thus we ask Obama to provide them safe passage out of America.”

When interviewed for the story, an Administration official did defend the arrest policy (anonymously of course) saying:

“We’re not trying to discourage anyone from leaving, but we do want to send the message that there are consequences for breaking immigration laws.”

Bad policies have consequences, as well. Unfortunately, everyone seems to have figured this out but the officials carrying out the bad policy.