The crux of this story is this: A man – in the US for decades but who is not a citizen – was arrested by ICE and is being held for deportation. He was targeted because he had a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. He was arrested out in front of his house. Now he is being held pending a deportation hearing.
That’s the basics – but that’s not all there is to the story.
The man’s arrest happened 18 years ago and according to what I read he has not been arrested since. He was sentenced to anger management classes and probation. He completed both to the satisfaction of the court. He’s lived his life as a citizen. He owns a home (pays taxes on it), has a job, a family, and is – as far as we know – a good member of his community.
I know that when Trump talks about immigrant criminals he isn’t talking about this man.
The time to deport him was when he was arrested, not 18 years later. I’m not saying he should get a 100% free pass. We are clever enough to come up with a system that allows him to stay but also punishes him for entering the country illegally.
I am a supporter of building a wall, and a supporter of strong immigration laws. I am not a supporter of arresting and deporting a man like this. I fully understand that he’s broken the law and I believe that justice is important and that those who break the law need to meet justice so that it continues to mean something.
I also feel that justice includes taking mitigating factors into consideration.
There are many laws that factor in aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Judges frequently take into account things that will lessen the punishment someone receives as a result of breaking the law. Entering the country illegally is a law, that when violated, does no physical harm to anyone. The individuals who come, like this man, spend years here and in his case he hasn’t taken away from our society or our tax base, he’s added to it. He’s worked hard and paid his fair share into the system. He’s a giver, not a taker.
In a case like this one – what is the actual, calculable, harm?
I am not sure there is any. We can’t say that because he is here some other immigrant couldn’t come. Is he taking a job that an American citizen would hold? Maybe. Maybe not. We really cannot say with any accuracy. Even if we could the fact remains that we have more jobs at this time than we have people to fill them. So someone who is without a job because of him, could find one. But really, how can we say someone is out of a job because this man took it and if we can say that doesn’t just go to show that this man is valuable? More valuable than the man he took the job from if he out competed him for it.
Is deportation the only punishment people want?
I can understand that. Often all people want to feel better about something is for the breach to be repaired. If someone steals something they are happy to have it back and in such cases where the property is returned people often don’t desire prosecution. So, someone enters illegally, then having them leave is the only thing that will make it better. I understand why that would make someone feel better but I am not sure why that is the only thing that would make them feel better. For example, if someone steals from you and cannot return what they stole but they can pay for it. I understand it’s not the same as the object itself. That is especially true if the object has sentimental value. And I think that really is the heart of it.
People feel that citizenship has sentimental value.
There is emotion attached to immigration that doesn’t fit with the actual damage done by the crime. I’m not talking about the criminals that come to the US like those gang members Trump often talks about. That’s a totally different matter as far as I’m concerned. I won’t put up any argument about keeping sending them back. I also won’t put up an argument about keeping those currently out, out, even when they ware great people with pure intent. I support controlled immigration. I believe we have a fair argument about assimilation and a slower immigration.
When it comes to those people who are already here AND who have been here for a decade or more I do wonder why we want them out. Such people are assimilated or have at least shown their ability to be good members of their communities. I just have to wonder if their one time deed (entering illegally) that didn’t cause injury or pain to anyone is enough to uproot them and send them packing. That it is emotion rather than justice that drives the desire to see them gone.
“I’m an American, you aren’t, now leave.”
Source (This article is behind a partial paywall so you may or may not be able to read it for yourself): California woman ‘in shock’ after ICE agents detain father, a legal resident, outside home