Fox News reported that “a top Department of Homeland Security official reportedly said his agency will not necessarily process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.”

John Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, made the comment during a meeting with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune where he also told the newspaper staff, “I don't think the Arizona law, or laws like it, are the solution."

Backing him up was Arizona’s own Janet Napolitano, DHS Secretary, who said ICE is not obligated to process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.

"ICE has the legal discretion to accept or not to accept persons delivered to it by non-federal personnel," Napolitano said. "It also has the discretion to deport or not to deport persons delivered to it by any government agents, even its own."

Huh?

No rules of engagement? No binding law exists at either the state or federal level? DHS and ICE are government agencies that are free to do as they please? Will Arizona be forced to deport illegal immigrants on their own dime?

President Obama, perhaps with a better understanding of the rule of law than either Morton or Napolitano, ordered the Department of Justice to review Arizona’s law. Their opinion and subsequent court cases are the proper way to decide on the ‘legality’ of the law, not an arbitrary decision by mid-level government “fonctionairres.”

The Fox News report quoted Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who took a shot at Morton’s intemperate comment. "If he feels he cannot enforce the law, he shouldn't have the job. That makes him, in my view, not fulfilling the responsibilities of his office."

Sessions seems to understand the politics behind Arizona’s law better than the folks at DHS or ICE. Incursions by Mexican drug lords have made it increasing dangerous for the citizens that live anywhere near the border. Assaults, burglaries, strong-arm theft and armed robberies are the new norm for people living within a rifle shot of the Rio Grande. The decision by American authorities to not aggressively defend the border left Arizona with no other option.

"The federal government should step up and do it. It's their responsibility,” said Sessions.

Bottom Line: The federal government has abdicated its responsibility to protect American citizens, sacrificing the lives and livelihoods of men like Rob Krentz for the sake of maintaining a good relationship with a neighboring country that cannot control their violent drug gangs, either. The result is Mexico is exporting both their drugs and their violence and too many Southwestern ranchers are suffering the consequences.

Chuck Jolley is a free lance writer, based in Kansas City, who covers a wide range of ag industry topics for Cattlenetwork.com and Agnetwork.com.