Much is being made of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s comment accusing Republicans of thinking illegal immigration “… should be a crime and we should arrest them all.” [ital added -ed.] The phrasing of her comment clearly implies that illegal immigration is not a crime at this time. That’s clearly a meme that the Democratic Party is trying to advance, because Janet Napolitano (Sec’y, Homeland Security) said as much on CNN:
And yes, when we find illegal workers, yes, appropriate action, some of which is criminal, most of that is civil, because crossing the border is not a crime per se.
So. Is illegal immigration a crime or merely a civil offense?
Well, the truth is, it depends on how the immigrant got here.
If a person crosses the border legally and overstays his or her visa, that’s a civil offense and not a crime. The person can and probably will be deported if they are caught, and they may not be able to obtain another visa, but they are not criminals.
However, it is most assuredly a crime to enter the country illegally:
Sec. 8, US Code § 1325: Improper entry by alien
(a) Improper time or place; avoidance of examination or inspection; misrepresentation and concealment of facts
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 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.
In addition to the criminal charges, aliens can also be assessed civil fines and punishments.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that we are very pro-immigration. We believe that the US should have more legal immigration, not less. For example, graduates of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) should be encouraged to bring their mathematical, scientific, and engineering skills to America. IIT is one of the most, if not the most, selective centers of higher learning in the world. In 2006, over 300,000 applicants competed for slightly less than 5000 seats, an admission rate of less than 2%. Ask any CEO of an American high-technology company, and they will tell you that the American high-tech industry is starved for qualified applicants. In fact, Bill Gates testified in Congress that
US high-tech companies are being forced to outsource more jobs overseas because of outdated restrictions on immigration…
Gates, echoing a longstanding complaint from the technology sector, told a congressional panel that the US immigration system “makes attracting and retaining high-skilled immigrants exceptionally challenging for US firms.”
“Congress’s failure to pass high-skilled immigration reform has exacerbated an already grave situation,” Gates said in remarks prepared for delivery to a hearing of the House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee.
“As a result, many US firms, including Microsoft, have been forced to locate staff in countries that welcome skilled foreign workers to do work that could otherwise have been done in the United States, if it were not for our counterproductive immigration policies.”
We need to fix this immigration mess. But a blanket amnesty is not a solution, nor is lying about US immigration law.
The Obama campaign committee is gearing up for a major boot-licking effort, aimed at Latino immigration “activists” and ideologues, in hopes of amping up the Latino vote.
Unless Republicans and libertarians offer workable solutions – and arresting and deporting millions of people is Not Workable – the Left is going to own the narrative and buy the votes.
So I’m waiting for any of current field of Republican candidates to address immigration forthrightly.