“What part of ILLEGAL don’t [they] understand?”

I’ve been seeing comments all over the place – here, at other local blogs – that say basically just that. Breaking the law is breaking the law. I was going to just leave this as a comment, but more than one person has said it and I’m hoping for elaborations/explanations.

On the surface, it seems pretty impossible to argue with – illegal immigrants are exactly that. But I’m not sure it’s right, and I know there is more to the immigration issue.

What if it were a felony to drive your car over the speed limit? It is ILLEGAL to do so. If you drive 56 mph in a 55 zone, should your car be taken away forever? Should your children be punished because you broke the law? (This is merely the first example I thought of, but it seems like a decent one.)

I am really not sure what my stance is on immigration. But I think that dismissing the protests on such vague grounds is a dangerous thing. Of course doing something illegal is illegal. But I thought the protests were about the severity of punishments, not about receiving special treatment. That is, I though protesters were opposed to making illegal residency a felony, not trying to make it legal.

Am I missing something?

17 thoughts on ““What part of ILLEGAL don’t [they] understand?””

  1. Thats exactly right. Any waitress who doesn’t report all her tips is a criminal, if the standard for applying the label is as simple “anyone who breaks the law”. I think by this standard, almost everyone could be labeled as a criminal. Feels kinda cool, doesn’t it?

  2. I believe that most protest organizers are indeed against making illegal immigration a felony (although, getting deported if you’re caught seems more severe than a felony, but whatever.) However, if you look at a lot of those signs that protesters are carrying, it appears that many of them want the government to just open the borders wide and stand back.

  3. This is one of the spirit of the law -vs- letter of the law (potential law) issues. Is it illegal? Yes. Should it be a felony? There needs to be a happy medium – which is slow to never in coming.

    Some are taking this as a personal affront to hispanic immigrants, while I’d like to believe it is a semi half hearted attempt to keep “homeland security” and give them the right to keep out the “evil doers.”

    Do I like seeing the system used/abused by “illegals?” no. But if they were legal would anything really change? This is a bigger problem than just immigration – it’s about an invisible underclass that we’ve grown to love or at the very least make pretend we don’t notice – an underclass we don’t want to pay a living wage because we love our cheap (whatever) they do/pick/make that we live in/eat/wear.

  4. There is a difference between something being illegal and something being a crime. For example, it’s illegal for an employer to fail to pay someone overtime if she works more than 40 hours a week, but it’s not a crime. It’s a civil violation, not a criminal one.

    My understanding of HR 4437 is that it would criminalize illegal immigrants. At first, House Republicans proposed making illegal immigration a felony, but now have settled for making it a misdemeanor. Both, however, would make it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. Right now, it’s illegal, but it’s not a crime.

  5. I don’t want to see it made into a felony — our courts systems couldn’t handle it anyway. I just want the current laws enforced. You have to go through a process to become a resident or citizen. Period.It’s a much bigger problem than driving 68 in a 65 or not reporting a few tips. Illegals’ inability and/or unwillingness to follow the laws of a country they supposedly want to be a part of is wreaking havoc on many others who are here legally and/or natively. And as to your underclass comment — they’re here illegally, off the books, in hiding, in an underclass because they CHOOSE to be. Choices have consequences. If I choose to speed, I may get caught. If I underreport my tips, I may get caught. My problem with many of these protests is that they’re acting as if these folks shouldn’t face any consequences for getting caught. If you want to be part of a country, then respect its laws, act responsibly and take your lumps if you get caught breaking the law.

  6. Lee, why no mention of the people who employ undocumented immigrants? If people who cross the border illegally are doing so for jobs, why not go after the people who give them those jobs?

    All I hear is that the immigrants are “illegal”, but I don’t hear anything about “illegal employers” and how we need to go after them. Also, nobody’s proposing that we criminalize folks who help out these illegal employers (you know, by buying their products).

    These employers are not only breaking the law, but by some logic they are encouraging others to break the law as well. Maybe these employers are doubly “illegal”!

    So, once I start hearing about “Illegal Employers” as much as I’m hearing about “Illegal Aliens”, then I’ll be more confident that this is nothing more than race-bating.

  7. I’ve been ranting about them, too, in other forums 8-) A lot of this would grind to a halt if employers faced serious fines for hiring illegal immigrants. I liked the $40,000 per incident figure floated by the House… or was it the Senate. Some of those chicken-processing firms in Arkansas would be hit instantly with millions of dollars in fines. That might be the quickest way to make some progress here, in fact. I’m there, DB. Make it as big a crime as insider trading.

  8. My concern about going after the vultures who hire the cheap, illegal labor, is that it won’t be effective. Larger employers will always find a way to protect themselves – finding fly by night independent contractors/go betweens to hire the labor through. Leaving smaller companies and individuals to take all the heat. As much as employers should take the responsibility, this will likely never happen.

    I think we should have harsher fines against people who both use and make fake id’s, with additional fines if the id’s are used to misrepresent work eligibility. (there needs to be a loophole in there for underage kids wanting to get into clubs, otherwise our jails will be packed with college freshmen).

  9. David, doesn’t 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1325 only refer to the act of crossing the border? I might be wrong, but I think that simply being present illegally in the U.S. is not a crime. For example, an undocumented worker who overstayed a visa wouldn’t have violated Sec. 1325 because he or she entered the U.S. legally. Is that right?

  10. I blame that song, “This Land is Your Land.”
    Don’t they know that it’s nobody’s?

  11. Josh: Thanks for pointing that out – awesome catch.
    The question now is – what are the same rules for being in the US without a proper permit?

  12. I’ve done a little advertising on this site in this past, but I won’t be doing that again after this site cheering on the marches.

    That said, going after the employers would be surprisingly effective. A steady stream of raids in a wide variety of industries done by incorruptible agencies would send a very loud message to the rest. Only the foolhardy and the day laborer employers would continue with the practice.

    Unfortunately, the key word there is “incorruptible”. Past raids have been quashed due to corrupt Democrats and Republicans. After the Wal*Mart raids, Nancy Pelosi spoke out against them. While in Mexico, she accused the U.S. government of conducting “terrorizing raids”. Obviously, she doesn’t want any form of immigration enforcement.

  13. TLB – what cheering are you talking about?

    Would you rather Metroblogging dictate to its writers the opinions that should be expressed in posts? That would uphold the American Dream very well.

    In nearly all news organizations – which we may or may not be, and at times we are and are not – there’s a wall between editorial content and advertising. The same exists here. I don’t know how ads get run and I don’t pay attention before i post content. Nor should I.

    Also – topics like Immigration are about the hottest-hot button issue you can find these days – drawing a lot of eyeballs to the site. Eyeballs = ad revenue, at least that’s what I recall from some college classes.

    I’m not in charge here – this is just my opinion. But I think your comment is silly. Especially when you tack it onto the start of an otherwise thoughtful comment.

  14. “I’ve done a little advertising on this site in this past, but I won’t be doing that again after this site cheering on the marches.”

    While we’re always happy to take money from anyone, regardless of their personal politics, if the result of this thread is we have one less advertiser who thinks people shouldn’t be allowed to express their own opinions I’m pretty sure we’ll get by just fine.

  15. Illegal aliens and employers should be felons. They have had 2 decades to comply with existing US border laws, yet they continue to violate them openly and willingly. Therefore, stronger enforcement is needed, that is, stronger penalties, such as making the crossing of the border a felony and the aiding and abeting of illegals a felony. Illegal US employers are cheating, should be penalized so that they understand that the US is not just an economy but a country with laws and customs. If illegal employers want more Mexicans and central american workers in the US, they should work through the democratic process, be good citizens, and petition their representatives in US congress to modify the existing immigration laws. Unlike Mexico, the US has a strong history of thriving through the democratic process of law making.

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