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- 06-08-2006, 02:26 PM #1
We should be deporting criminal illegals, period
We should be deporting criminal illegals, period
Conor Friedersdorf, Columnist
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
(Editor's note: This is a twice-weekly column written Conor Friedersdorf, who is managing the Daily Bulletin's blog, or special Web site, on immigration issues. The blog is designed to provide a forum for opinions and information on immigration. The blog is at www.beyondbordersblog.com)
I'll say it again: Let's aggressively deport illegal immigrants who commit crimes. It's a measure all sides of the immigration debate should be able to rally behind.
While the Senate and the House negotiate the fate of most illegal immigrants, let's fast-track separate legislation that will rid us of the gangbangers, the rapists and the murderers.
Who could oppose that?
Unfortunately the question isn't rhetorical. Abstract support for deporting illegal immigrant criminals is widespread. Supporting the policies that need to be in place to effectively execute the deportations is another thing entirely.
One obvious step: Every city, county and state police officer ought to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for committing any crime. Immigrant advocates oppose this step, arguing that immigration is a federal matter. A practical argument bolsters their case: If local police enforce immigration law, illegal immigrants won't report crimes or come forward as witnesses.
But if police make it clear that they'll never check the immigration status of crime victims and witnesses, while always checking the immigration status of criminal suspects, that practical argument becomes irrelevant.
Another obvious step: Survey current prison inmates and identify those who are here illegally so that they can be deported upon release. A federal program exists to do just that. San Bernardino County participates, having received training from federal law enforcement. All jails and every federal prison should follow suit. The funds needed for such an effort are well worth the decrease in criminal recidivism within the United States that is sure to follow.
Some object that the United States shouldn't deport illegal immigrant criminals because we're exporting too much crime to poor Latin American countries.
It seems to me that "re-importing" is a more accurate term.
Because these criminals entered the United States without our permission and broke our laws knowing that one penalty is deportation, I fail to see why we have any moral, ethical or prudential obligation to keep them here rather than sending them home.
As the driving force behind many of our street gangs, a disproportionate percentage of our prison inmates and a surprisingly large fraction of our murderers, illegal immigrant criminals are a scourge to our nation as surely as they are to their home countries, or anywhere else they are sent.
In this case, however, they aren't our scourge.
Every nation has its criminal element, and it isn't our duty to take on the criminal elements of other countries in addition to our own. The receiving country should be warned, of course. Deliver the illegal immigrant criminals into foreign police custody for all I care. But deliver them nonetheless.
The contrary view?
Blogger Kyle de Beausett expressed it during our recent online debate about immigration policy. The United States takes the most talented, hardworking people from poor countries, he complained, then focuses on deporting the criminal element, wreaking havoc on countries of emigration.
"Undocumented immigrants that break a law are forced into an already broken prison system to serve their time, and then things are made doubly hard on them as they are deported back to their home countries and somehow magically supposed to reform themselves," he wrote.
His useful insight is that the United States and the policies we pursue have significant effects on the smaller nations that share our hemisphere. I'll say this: The United States ought to carefully consider the global ramifications of its policies.
But global ramifications don't always mean advancing the interests of other countries at the expense of American interests, simply because they are poorer or less developed. There is also the matter of what is fair.
Being a nation carries certain inherent responsibilities. One among them is dealing with the criminal element, even the portion that illegally travels elsewhere for a time to commit crimes. Guatemala, Mexico, Brazil and the rest of Latin America have every right to imprison misbehaving Americans and to deport them back to the United States upon release, though their prison systems are far more broken than ours.
We've the same right when it comes to their criminal aliens. And we should exercise it whenever possible, if only to make more room for the noncriminal legal immigrants who are more deserving of our welcome and assistance earning a better life.Need Law Enforcement Information? Click here for the Alipac Action Panel