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L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and the Secure Communities program; defending the legality of killing Osama bin Laden; tax breaks for oil companies

May 22, 2011
  • The sheriff: Los Angeles County's Lee Baca says the Secure Communities program is working. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
The sheriff: Los Angeles County's Lee Baca says the Secure Communities… (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles…)

Security debate

Re "Let us deport the bad guys," Opinion, May 17

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca ignores an essential fact: Secure Communities jeopardizes safety by placing immigration enforcement over law enforcement.

Baca says the program allows the deportation of "illegal immigrants" guilty of serious crimes, but it actually targets anyone booked into police custody who Immigration and Customs Enforcement believes may be deported — whether or not they have committed a crime. Indeed, our client, Isaura Garcia, faced deportation following a domestic dispute.

Secure Communities sends a clear message to immigrant members of our communities: Fear the police; do not report crimes because you could be deported. The program has shattered a 30-year bedrock of trust between immigrant communities and the police.

And that makes us all less safe.

Hector Villagra

Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.

Baca mentions a convicted felon illegally in the United States who had three prior drug-trafficking convictions and six deportations in 11 years. Section 276 of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that an immigrant whose removal was subsequent to a conviction for commission of three or more misdemeanors or felonies involving drugs shall be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

Let us imprison this bad guy and all others with multiple drug convictions for a period of years before deporting them again.

Stuart Shelby

Santa Monica

The Secure Communities program is necessary, but it gives the public a false sense of security.

Baca says that the program has resulted in the deportation of 72,445 aliens convicted of crimes, including 26,473 convicted of serious felonies such as murder, rape, kidnapping and sexual abuse of children. Baca says that once deported, these criminals "no longer pose a threat to our communities."

This sounds impressive, but in the examples of recently deported criminals, both had been previously deported. One had been deported six times in 11 years. The other was deported after killing a child in 1997.

Our southern border remains unsecure, and deported criminals can return whenever they choose.

Walt Lewis


The legal side of killing Bin Laden

Re "His killing was lawful," Opinion, May 16

Jed Rubenfeld's defense of the legality of Osama bin Laden's killing is not persuasive.

If "many in the international community" call it "extrajudicial killing," why dismiss the claim as "absurd"? Rubenfeld's only reason is debatable: that we are in a state of war.

We were at war in Iraq, but that did not stop us from capturing and handing over for trial Saddam Hussein. So if we are at war with a terrorist entity, why should not the same procedure apply? But of course calling our response to terrorism a "war" never did make it one.

Rubenfeld also fails to deal honestly with current U.S. law against extrajudicial killing. A reference to the U.S. Naval Handbook about surrender hardly deals with that illegality.

Tony Litwinko


I appreciated Rubenfeld's Op-Ed. He is right: Those who have no rules or guidelines should not expect them from others.

William K. Backstrom


Rubenfeld calls the claim that Bin Laden was executed "absurd."

May I remind him that even consensus mass murderers such as Saddam Hussein, Timothy McVeigh and Slobodan Milosevic were arrested and brought to trial.

Richard Chogyoji

Los Angeles

Perhaps the killing of Bin Laden was technically legal, but what about the larger question of whether it was moral or promotes the rule of law and international justice?

Imagine a different outcome, as proposed in your May 5 editorial: Bin Laden was taken alive, imprisoned and given a fair trial. This would have shown that the U.S. was out for justice, not vengeance.

This country must stand for something greater and more noble than the gang-style execution that a military killing represents. Whatever the short-term advantages of assassinating Bin Laden were, a better ending was possible — one rejecting force and endorsing a world governed by justice and the rule of law.

Charles Crittenden

Lake View Terrace

Standing up for the librarians

Re "Librarians on trial," Opinion, May 18

I have been an Army hospital librarian, public library librarian, elementary and middle school librarian, school library administrator and a college reference librarian. The school librarian experience I had was the most demanding and rewarding for many of the reasons Nora Murphy states.

I think the Los Angeles Unified School District would be better served by firing some of its lawyers instead of librarians.

Sylvia Hoffmayer

Westlake Village

It's ironic that RIF means "reduction in force" to L.A. Unified as it lets librarians go, when it stands for "reading is fundamental" to all schools participating in a national library program for elementary school children.

Patricia Manuras


Dodgers history

Re "Before the McCourts, there was another divorce," May 17

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