Monday, November 27, 2006

Illegal Immigrants Broke the Law - That's All We Need to Know!!

The most common argument for sending all illegal immigrants back where they came from (or at least all Spanish Speaking ones), is the "rule of law" argument. If we fail to uphold the laws of the land, then there will be no respect for those laws. This is most commonly said in the context of the immigrants who have broken one law not respecting other laws. Sometimes, though rarely, it is also applied to the rest of the population.

I have argued elsewhere that this is not a particularly good argument because of the legal concept of "acting in reliance." In short, due to 20 years of lack of enforcement, undocumented workers have acted in ways to build their lives, that were we to suddenly strictly enforce the law, the harm to them would be substantial.

However, I can now add three additional legal defenses that should forever end this debate point.

1. Prosecutorial discretion. Prosecutors commonly decide not to press charges for dozens of different reasons. In the case of illegal entry or overstaying a visa the reasons could include a plea bargain, overcrowded facilities, no other criminal record and clear civic contribution, child care or spousal support for legal citizens that would end upon deportation, and many others.

2. Judicial discretion. Judges are able to take into consideration a wide variety of mitigating circumstances in determining sentencing for all crimes including murder. Lack of other criminal record, no community benefit to penalty, implication of others of greater value in the crime, etc.

3. Pardons. Presidents, governors, and judges, at a minimum, have the ability to pardon very nasty criminals for past acts (Clinton pardoned some real nasty folks.) Pardon can be issued for a reason or for no reason at all. We already have something like this for illegals who serve in the military.

In addition, we could change the law to include new penalties other than deportation. While deportation may seem like a fitting penalty, it needn't be the only one. I'm sure at one time death seemed like the only fitting penalty for taking a life. Now, some murderers are out after 7 years or never serve a day because of temporary insanity.

Therefore, I would propose a fine of $5000.00 and 2000 hours of community service.

No comments: