Saturday, May 12, 2012

Operation Cross Check: Why Border Security Matters

I know that illegal immigration is a sensitive topic with many.  Some see illegal aliens as people prepared to work hard, and therefore a useful reminder to Americans who hardly work that they need to get off their rears.  Some have a hard time imagining life without their illegal alien gardeners, housekeepers, and prostitutes.  I will definitely agree that many, probably most, illegal aliens are actually hard working sorts, and I wish some of that would rub off on Americans.  But even if we decide to make it easier for aliens to enter the U.S. to work, we need some serious efforts to limit who comes into the country—at least to keep out those we have already expelled for crimes.
The April 2, 2012 Washington Times reports on the efforts of immigration, including the arrest of more than 3100 convicted felons who are also aliens:
Mr. Morton said those arrested included 2,834 persons with prior criminal convictions including at least 1,063 who had multiple convictions, including murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, kidnapping, assault, armed robbery, terroristic threats, drug trafficking and crimes against children.
“Fifty of those arrested were identified as gang members and 149 were convicted sex offenders.”
Charming bunch, what? This is obviously a tiny percentage of illegal aliens in the U.S., and I would not assume that they are typical. Indeed, I would assume that they are probably atypical, or this country would be in a lot worse shape than it is. But that’s not the whole story. The Washington Times article goes on to point out: “In addition to being convicted criminals, … 698 of those arrested were also immigration fugitives who had previously been ordered to leave the country but failed to depart.
Gee, the government ordered them to leave…and they didn’t.  I mean, just because they have been convicted of violent felonies, why would you assume that they might not obey the order to leave the country?  I can’t really blame these illegal alien criminals for failing to obey the order to leave; I blame our government for failing to follow through.  What was our government thinking?
It gets worse.  “Additionally, 559 were illegal re-entrants who had been previously removed from the country.”  This is where we get to the issue of actually securing our borders.  These were illegal aliens who somehow managed to do something serious enough to be not just ordered out of the country, but our government actually managed to make them leave.  And they returned.  Why not?  It’s not like we make any serious effort to keep illegal aliens out of the U.S.  You know, like with border fortifications, and regular enforcement of those borders.

 So what to do with these illegal alien scofflaws?  The article quotes a government official that “204 of those arrested during the enforcement action were presented to U.S attorneys for prosecution on a variety of charges including illegal re-entry after deportation, a felony which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.”  Ordinarily, my reaction to imprisoning illegal aliens would be, “Why are we wasting taxpayer dollars holding them in federal prisons?  Wouldn’t it make more sense just to deport them?”  But of course, that only works if we have some method to make sure that they don’t just come back into the country.  And as you can see with the 559 “illegal re-entrants,” we clearly don’t have such a mechanism in place.  It seems like we are not even really trying to keep them from coming back into the country.  Maybe sending some of the worst of these felons to prison is the best we can do.

But wait, I’m not done whining about this.  What is going to happen to the rest of these 3100 illegal alien criminals, if they are not being prosecuted and sent to the federal slammer?  At least two of the illegal aliens arrested, according to the article, are “in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.”  One was convicted of murder in July of 1984; another was convicted in April 2005 “of manslaughter, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.”  So what, you are asking, are “removal proceedings”? 

My friend Dave Hardy, an attorney who practices in Arizona, and is familiar with the procedures discussed, explains that removal proceedings are “a broader concept than actual deportation and includes agreeing to voluntarily being removed.” Odd, but I could have sworn that the article mentioned that many of these illegal alien criminals had already been required to leave the country, and either got lost on the way to the border, or came back into the country after they had been deported. (Perhaps they just forgot that they were told, “Don’t come back.”)

This is just crazy. We are not talking about illegal aliens who were picked up in a raid on a sweat shop, or caught crossing the border in the middle of a desert. We are talking about people convicted of crimes such as murder, manslaughter, sex crimes against children, and the plan is to get them to volunteer to be removed, when we don’t even make a meaningful effort to prevent them from coming back into the country?

Something isn’t right with this. You could almost get the impression that we are doing the illegal immigration version of catch-and-release fishing. But I’m not worried about a trout murdering anyone.


  1. Bravo, Mr. Cramer. I live in southern Arizona – literally within ten miles line-of-site of the international border itself – and have had direct and personal experience with the broader illegal immigration issue, though it has admittedly subsided somewhat of late due to the general state of the economy.

    On a side note, I just finished reading your co-authored work with Mr. Burnett, Tough Targets: When Criminals Face Armed Resistance From Citizens, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it a fascinatingly enlightening piece to counterbalance much of the anecdotal, hypothetical, and outright naïve/factually inaccurate arguments often presented by many of the harsher gun control advocates of our society. I posted my own blog response to its material at the following:

    What an Armed and Responsible Citizenry Practically Brings to the Table

  2. At least part of the problem is that some segment of the government/academia is promoting ethnic nationalism especially among illegal aliens.

    If the left (and many libertarian bloggers) dropped its demand for bilingualism (specifically Spanish -- no other lingual group will be receiving this privilege), then there might be a hope for compromise on illegal immigration.

    The irony is that if the bilingualism drive succeeds, it will lead to segregation. Not a legal segregation per se, but one of culture. But that's what nationalism is all about, anyway.

  3. What if we contracted to warehouse them in, say, Siberia, where the Russians already invested in "infrastructure," have a large crew of trained prison guards, and love hard currency? No need for high security, go ahead and escape from there, amigo. Then, after you dodge wolves for 1,000 miles across Siberia where you don't speak the lingo, maybe you can swim the Pacific. Should cut down on repeat offenders, at least.