As a lifelong liberal Democrat, it pains me deeply when unpleasant isolated events involving undocumented immigrants stir up the ire of documented U.S. citizens. Ultimately, I believe, we are all God’s children and we all have the right to live and earn a living wage wherever we so choose. These isolated events simply cast a pall over the budding environment for better multicultural understanding.

What is particularly troublesome is the apparent trend of federal and local law enforcement personnel to turn a blind eye to crimes committed by the undocumented, almost as if being undocumented provides a layer of protection from prosecution. This phenomenon has been noted frequently in our coverage of immigration issues at this blog. (Just keep scrolling and scrolling and reading back through the months).

Now comes news from Houston confirming our worst fears: There has been a widespread trend of non-enforcement of laws when the perpetrators have been in this country illegally. It appears that in an enormous number of cases, dangerous criminals are being released right back onto the street – with their undocumented status serving as a get out of jail free card.

The reason this concerns me so deeply is that, as a progressive, I have a high degree of respect for government institutions. This massive trend of non-enforcement will shake public confidence in those institutions. In fact, such a trend could definitely shake confidence to the extent that U.S. citizens might be inspired to outright rebellion and various forms of direct action. This, I fear, would be a major hindrance for our new president’s effort to implement his much-needed public policy agenda for our nation.

Let us hope there is a sea change in law enforcement throughout the U.S., so that the laws are enforced with at least equal determination on criminals who are undocumented. President-elect Obama would do well to take a strong stand for equality and fairness in the enforcement of our laws. Lighting a fire under ICE, for instance, will help build public faith in the new administration.