Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney vows to continue his collaboration with the feds regarding "aliens."
Under Mahoney, the Sheriff's Office has reported upwards of 400 immigrants to ICE, the latest incarnation of the former INS (where do the feds come up with these acronyms, anyway? Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Operation Iraqi Liberation? Brilliant!). That's a substantial increase from the record of the previous sheriff, Gary Hamblin, for whom cracking down on undocumented immigrants was not a priority. Hamblin explained his overall approach to immigration issues to The Capital Times in 2003:
There's a perception out here that people who are here illegally and become victims of crime are reluctant to report the crime because of fears of the immigration service coming for them. Nobody wants to see anybody victimized, so this goes in the direction of letting people know it's in the county's policy that you will not be reported.
What changed? Hamblin was replaced by Mahoney. And petitions, resolutions, letters, public outcry of all kinds have not budged him. This local elected official says responding to his constituents on this issue "is not going to happen." No. His first priority? Cooperation with the feds.
It makes you scratch your head. The former sheriff, a Republican, takes a pass on the immigrant-bashing bandwagon. He gets replaced by a Democrat, and suddenly Dane County becomes a haven for immigrant-haters. Why?
Most people I've talked with describe Mahoney as an old-school lawman who has taken his interest in interagency cooperation to an extreme. If they are right, that makes Mahoney a Doughface.
A "Doughface?" Yes. That's what some northern Democrats of the 1850s were called by their Liberty Party, Free Soil, and Republican critics. In the national conflict over the enforcement of federal slave law -- particularly the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 -- there were those who urged resistance to the feds, and those who collaborated. Advocates of slavery appreciated the collaborators, exulting as Rep. John Randolph of Virginia did:
They were scared at their own dough faces -- yes, they were scared at their own dough faces! -- We had them.
And the immigrant-haters have Mahoney. Regardless of whether or not he is one of them, he is doing their business -- and so, by extension, are all of us.