CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES — I’ve been blogging a lot recently about sentencing and incarceration in criminal cases, in the context of pending legislation that both chambers of Congress are contemplating. The bills would permit reduced sentences for many offenders, including aliens who smuggle narcotics by land or sea across our international borders. It is legislation that I dislike, as do many current and former prosecutors and law enforcement officers.
But here are two more items that have come to my attention that touch on a different aspect of sentences imposed on aliens. They have nothing to do with the pending legislation, but rather focus on the crime of illegal reentry after removal (deportation; see 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1326).
First, though, a word about that federal felony offense: Migrant advocates would have you believe that it is victimless, and that offenders should go unpunished, as they largely do for the misdemeanor offense of illegally crossing the border the first time, in the interests of “family unity”. This airbrushes the hard facts.
Statistics in recent years have shown that the number of aliens who reenter the United States after having been formally deported has risen. According to those statistics, roughly one out of every four aliens apprehended, both at the border and in the interior, is a reentrant-after-removal. The figure is symptomatic of exactly how porous our border remains, notwithstanding pronouncements to the contrary. But there is more to it than that.
The president and his cabinet would have us believe that they came up with the brilliant notion of prioritizing enforcement efforts on criminals. They have done so in order to justify taking no action against hundreds of thousands of other illegal aliens, and in fact bestowing work permits and documents evidencing “lawful presence” upon them. That is absurd. Finding, arresting, and deporting criminals was, and always has been, a priority of federal immigration authorities, who managed to do it without a) finding the need to accord “lawful status” to other lawbreakers; or b) undermining the effort to identify criminals by pushing spurious sentencing reforms that in fact let thousands of alien felons walk free.