U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole is parachuting into North Carolina this week, touching down in several citiesincluding Raleigh on Aug. 23to enlighten local law enforcement about how they, too, can transform from mild-mannered deputies in snoozy hamlets into de facto border agents charged with defending America. And they don’t even have to dash into a phone booth.

The federal 287(g) program, which Dole is here to promote, endows local law enforcement with federal authority to investigate and detain illegal aliens who have committed crimes. Sounds reasonable, detaining and deporting criminals. That is, of course, if they are criminals.

The murkiness of the program’s language allows officers to embark on fishing expeditions and racial profiling. The new driving while black? Driving while brown. Innocent until proven guilty? As quaint a notion as the Geneva Conventions.

The majority of undocumented immigrants aren’t drunk drivers, gang bangers or drug smugglers. But they can be crime victims. Or witnesses to crimes committed by American citizens. With the 287(g) program in place, few victims and witnesses would report incidents to local federales, who in police “investigations” might discover they’re here illegally. That fear is one reason several local government law enforcement agencies in the Triangle have declined to participate.

Dole is quick to court badgeholders and hatemongers on illegal immigration. But she accepts no responsibility for her role in the immigration mess. By voting for CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, Dole ignores the link between U.S. economic policy and the throngs of immigrants crossing our southern border.

CAFTA is NAFTA on steroids, extending free trade agreements to Central American countries. Under NAFTA, American corporations moved to Mexico, busted unions (except for those sanctioned by the company) and paid employees an average hourly wage of $1.85 to work in dangerous conditions that wouldn’t pass muster in American factories. NAFTA not only gutted American cities but Mexican ones as well, as men and women left their communities and headed to the border, only to live in tarpaper shacks and homes fashioned from cardboard boxes. And then lawmakers like Dole wonder why people cross the border.

Apparently, CAFTA doesn’t extend American interests far enough; Dole has proposed wrapping the entire Western Hemisphere from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego (except for Cuba, naturally) in a free-trade zone.

It’s easy for Dole to drop by North Carolina and rally police to fight illegal immigration. It’s more difficult for her to defend her voting record: to recognize that it’s not the Mexican man replacing shingles on a McMansion’s roof in the 100-degree heat, nor the woman cleaning white people’s houses who are causing the problem. It’s Dole and those who want cheap goods and cheap labor without caring about those who provide them.