Friday, September 14, 2007

Is Illegal Immigration Criminal?

I listened to a portion of Hugh Hewitt's recent interview with Rudy Giuliani on the radio today. A part to which I objected: Giuliani said we can't call illegal immigration a crime because there aren't enough jail cells.

Since when is something only a crime if we send them to jail for it (let alone only a crime if we have room for the criminals in jail)? What happened to fines, to deportation?

Allow me to quote the American Heritage Dictionary from dictionary.com:
"crime: 1. An act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it and for which punishment is imposed upon conviction.
2. Unlawful activity: statistics relating to violent crime.
3. A serious offense, especially one in violation of morality.
4. An unjust, senseless, or disgraceful act or condition: It's a crime to squander our country's natural resources."

In case we have forgotten what illegal means: "Prohibited by law."

My dad wants to know when the act of illegally immigrating ends. As soon as one crossed the border? But crossing the border is not immigrating. Again, American Heritage: "To enter and settle in a country or region to which one is not native."

Tonight I did some research on the laws that prohibit entering the country except by the legally prescribed means. I found this section of the United States Code, updated through August this year. Because the way laws are written are complicated, these separate quotes may not be in order, and there is obviously a lot of material ommitted, but I included the website in case you want to study the matter for yourself.

The law:
"A) Immigrants.-
(i) In general.-Except as otherwise specifically provided in this Act, any immigrant at the time of application for admission-
(I) who is not in possession of a valid unexpired immigrant visa, reentry permit, border crossing identification card, or other valid entry document required by this Act, and a valid unexpired passport, or other suitable travel document, or document of identity and nationality if such document is required under the regulations issued by the Attorney General under section 211(a) ,
or (II) whose visa has been issued without compliance with the provisions of section 203, is inadmissible..."

"Construction of unlawful presence.-For purposes of this paragraph, an alien is deemed to be unlawfully present in the United States if the alien is present in the United States after the expiration of the period of stay authorized by the Attorney General or is present in the United States without being admitted or paroled..."

"a) Any alien who
(1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers,
or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers,
or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both."
- from Immigration and Nationality Act of the US Code

So I say that illegal immigrants are criminals. (Though I confess I encountered a section of legislation which specifically defined criminal aliens, except the law meant additional crimes, which it enumerated, and the penalties of which are different because the offender is alien.) Criminals should be punished. Borders must be enforced, and that doesn't mean simply fenced. Those who would enter our country illegally must be deterred by the real threat of punishment through our legal system. I recommend that this be deportation, at least for the first attempt. Obviously if an additional crime has been committed, there must be additional consequences.
What a mess it would be to have a president who did not consider those who do illegal things to be criminals, and who does not see the need to prosecute them.

To God be all glory.

1 comment:

Spencer said...

Send 'em home, I say!