Op-Ed by Matt Agorist
Albany, NY — Bryan MacCormack is the executive director of the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement which has led him on a journey of learning immigration law. This journey came to a head earlier this month when MacCormack was filmed thwarting an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer’s attempt to circumvent the constitution and make an arrest.
On March 5, while MacCormack was helping two immigrants with their legal cases, an ICE officer approached him and tried to arrest his clients. However, the officer would quickly realize the power a citizen has when they know the law.
As the video begins, MacCormack is debating the law with the ICE officer in Hudson, New York outside of the courtroom in which MacCormack had been helping the two immigrants.
The officer tries to say he has a “lawful warrant” to arrest the two individuals in MacCormack’s vehicle. The officer asks MacCormack if he’s familiar with the part of the immigration law that makes it illegal to harbor and transport “illegal aliens” and likely wasn’t expecting the response he received.
MacCormack proceeded to school the officer in constitutional law and noted that the “warrant” the officer had was “administrative” and not signed by a judge—meaning it was not constitutionally legal to enforce.
Although the video ends before they get there, local police were called to the scene and the ICE officer then leaves—without making an arrest.
As USA Today reported:
Chief Edward Moore told the Times Union in Albany he sent two cars after an ICE agent reported he was meeting resistance from MacCormack and his passengers.
MacCormack’s attorney then showed up and ICE ultimately left, an agency spokesperson told the paper.
MacCormack contended local police shouldn’t have even got involved because the ICE officer didn’t have a judicial warrant, and Hudson has declared itself a sanctuary city, which means it won’t enforce certain federal immigration laws.
But Moore told Columbia-Greene Media that he was contacted after the stop and not told the reason for the warrants.
The warrants for the two individuals were allegedly over immigration violations according to a statement from ICE. However, according to MacCormack, the warrants are not enforceable and the ICE officers leaving seemingly proved him right.
“I hope it spreads the word about know your rights and exemplifies the behavior that an individual can have when they are being confronted by ICE,” he said Wednesday.
The immigration debate in this country is a heated one and unfortunately, MacCormick’s rights-flexing video is not enough to calm it down. Every time a video or image surfaces of a child being abused in a detention facility, both parties get up in arms and attempt to blame each other—all the while ignoring the real reason for the crisis in the first place.
While pundits on the left may want to paint the abuse of immigrants in a political light to implicate the Trump Administration, it is important to note the practice of housing children and teens began long before Trump ever took office. However, the Trump Administration has done nothing to curb the abuse and although it is out of the spotlight now, it is likely still a horror faced by hundreds of children.
The reality of the situation is that the recent spike in immigrants coming into the United States from the southern border are fleeing the inevitable results of the bipartisan policy carried out by multiple federal agencies on a global scale. The overwhelming majority of migrants coming from countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are fleeing violence created by the US federal government’s own war on drugs.
But how does American policy create violence in Honduras, you ask? The answer is simple, supply and demand.
Because making something illegal does nothing to curb the demand for it, the war on drugs acts as fuel to the fire of gang violence and crime in these South and Central American countries by creating an incentive for criminals to capitalize on the constant demand.
Gangs and cartels form to meet this constant demand because they are the only ones willing to break the law to fill it. The void in demand created by the war on drugs is filled with society’s worst who have no qualms about murdering innocents to protect their supply chain and keep the blood money and illegal drugs flowing.
Because the United States has no legal supply of these drugs, cartels willing to break the law bribe politicians in their own country to grow them and then smuggle their products into ours. As a result, the US is actively incentivizing crime thus fueling a refugee crisis.
To show just how closely related gang violence and the drug war are, we can look at the effects that legalization of marijuana in only a few states has had on gang violence and trafficking throughout the US and Mexico.
A study earlier this year showed that marijuana legalization led to a drastic drop in violent crime in US states that border Mexico.
According to the study, Is Legal Pot Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations? The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on US Crime, when a state on the Mexican border legalized weed, violent crime fell by 13% on average. According to the study, homicides specifically related to the drug trade fell by an astonishing 41%.
Just seven cartels control the illegal marijuana trade into the US and even with legalization, they still supply a large portion of the weed consumed in America.
But legalizing pot and allowing it to be grown inside the United States is crippling the cartels and putting them out of business, according to the study.
“These laws allow local farmers to grow marijuana that can then be sold to dispensaries where it is sold legally,” said economist Evelina Gavrilova, one of the study’s authors. “These growers are in direct competition with Mexican drug cartels that are smuggling the marijuana into the US. As a result, the cartels get much less business.”
Because there is less business for cartels, drug-related violence plummets.
“The cartels are in competition with one another,” Gavrilova explained. “They compete for territory, but it’s also easy to steal product from the other cartels and sell it themselves, so they fight for the product. They also have to defend their territory and ensure there are no bystanders, no witnesses to the activities of the cartel.
“Whenever there is a medical marijuana law we observe that crime at the border decreases because suddenly there is a lot less smuggling and a lot less violence associated with that.”
Currently, marijuana is only recreationally legal in just 9 states, yet the effect of this legalization is felt across the country. Imagine what will happen to the cartels when the other 80 percent of the country stops kidnapping and caging people for this plant.
But marijuana is only the beginning. Other similar studies show that countries like Portugal, who decriminalized all drugs in 2001, have seen drug usage rates sharply decline as well as violent crime.
To curb violence in countries south of the border—thereby stifling the massive influx of refugees and solving a major problem—the United States should end the war on drugs—all of them.
Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project, where this article first appeared. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Minds.