District 3 Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey is jamming through his toxic passion projects while he still has the political leverage to get them done.
He is moving with swift desperation, working every angle to force the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust) to let immigration cops operate inside the county jail, because Calvey’s status as a county authoritarian is in jeopardy, and he knows it.
In a twisted piece of political theater, he is attempting to strong-arm the system into accepting anti-immigrant jackbootery by suing himself — sort of.
On Oct. 5, the Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners (BOCC) passed a measure allowing the two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials assigned to the facility to operate with impunity and without interference from the jail trust. Calvey and his District 2 rubber stamp Brian Maughan voted in favor of the policy.
The vote came one day after District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert sent a letter to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater asking his legal opinion on the measure. Then Calvey, who serves on both the county commission and the jail trust, filed a petition alongside the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association and Higher Plain Baptist Church pastor Tom Vineyard to force the jail trust to accept the ICE agents’ presence.
By filing the petition, Calvey and his gun-fetishist friends are attempting an end-run around Prater, whose opinion would be overridden by the district court either way. But Calvey’s multi-front effort on behalf of President Donald Trump’s morally indefensible immigration policies is remarkable in its obvious desperation.
If Maughan loses his District 2 seat to Spencer Hicks in November, Calvey will be the minority arch-conservative vote on the BOCC. Sitting on the sidelines while a progressive majority prioritizes public health initiatives, enacts criminal justice reforms and directs federal funds to their intended destinations will be hard for Calvey to tolerate.
While Calvey has ideological friends on the jail trust like former Lieutenant Gov. Todd Lamb, there is a faction of progressive-leaning members who keep them in check. Calvey and his fellow anti-immigration absolutists do not like being in check or being on an even playing field, much less operating in the minority.
Furthermore, if Trump loses his reelection bid on Nov. 3, ICE could get melted down. Trump’s policy of separating families, holding children in internment camps and running impact sweeps in immigrant communities is one of the great tragedies of recent American history, a time when our lesser demons put chokeholds on our better angels.
A recent report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz revealed that former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told U.S. attorneys on a conference call that “We need to take away children.”
As the New York Times reported, “Rod J. Rosenstein, then the deputy attorney general, went even further in a second call about a week later, telling the five prosecutors that it did not matter how young the children were. He said that government lawyers should not have refused to prosecute two cases simply because the children were barely more than infants.”
Calvey wants to strengthen the hand of a government agency that made cruelty an official policy. While he and his cohort argue that ICE presence at the Oklahoma County jail will ensure that undocumented violent offenders will be processed and deported, the goal is to harvest as many undocumented inmates as possible, violent or nonviolent.
ICE is a broken agency that has not had a Senate-confirmed director since Trump took office, and its crimes against humanity necessitate a complete reassessment of how we handle immigration. Calvey is now racing the calendar to cement policy before he potentially loses much of his power.
In a way, Calvey reminds me of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is currently trying to ram through the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett three weeks before the general election. Calvey and McConnell are both skilled strategists who know how to bend the system to their will, and they are both working overtime to institute bad policies before the clock runs out.
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