politicians & police cracking down (again)

Brent Finnegan -- January 24th, 2007

If you caught the story in today’s DNR, you know that Del. Todd Gilbert recently introduced HB2826, a bill designed to punish employers of undocumented immigrants. Of course, that’s assuming that the employers know who is and isn’t. Most or all of these workers have falsified documents anyway, and are inadvertently fixing our busted social security system.

In addition:

The bill requires that a law-enforcement officer report to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency a person whom (i) he has arrested for a felony or for DUI and (ii) he has probable cause to believe is in the United States illegally.

I have yet to hear a good reason for keeping undocumented felons here, but that section sounds suspiciously like it could turn into a witch hunt. The question is: is this honestly designed to get criminals off the streets, or target undocumented workers in general? Last week, when HPD and RoCo Sheriff’s Office applied for the new immigrant detainment program, Sheriff Don Farley said, “If you’re here illegally and committing crimes, then that’s when I hope I get to see you face to face because I’m going to do everything within my authority to send you back where you belong…” We’ll see.

There are a few other bills currently in the GA that affect undocumented immigrants in H’burg…

Ben Cline recently introduced a bill that would keep undocumented students from getting in-state tuition rates, even if that student has been paying taxes in state for years. There’s a good article in this week’s Breeze on the affects of this bill if passed.

Also, Gilbert’s HB2322 denies bail for undocumented arrestees. Pay special attention to local attorney, Aaron Cook’s comment on that page.


23 Responses to “politicians & police cracking down (again)”

  1. Gxeremio says:

    I wonder how “probable cause” would be defined in this case – would simply being Hispanic and/or not speaking English well be probable cause? Also, the bar is not being convicted of a felony, but being arrested for a felony, which can happen to innocent people – in any case, there are a number of “felonies” in Virginia that are awfully silly – like stealing poultry worth more than $5, illegally bottling beer, and covering your face without the written permission of the owner of the property where you are.
    Of course, even the records falsification which undocumented immigrants do to get a job is in itself a felony. So in essence the law could be read to say, “Anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant is to be arrested and reported.”
    Again, we come to the nature of our broken immigration system. Last night President Bush said he wanted comprehensive immigration reform, “animosity or amnesty.” But we kind of have to pick one of the two – either rigid enforcement under a zero-tolerance policy, or a national “do-over” under an amnesty program. Neither choice is politically palatable, but the murky third way we’ve been taking creates two problems every time it solves one.
    It’s kind of like if speeding at some point, whether you had been caught or not, made you an “illegal driver.” If the government insisted on not letting these illegal drivers use the roads or have access to them, where would we be as a nation? But if they offered an amnesty, what does it say about their original policy and the future of speeding?
    It’ll be interesting to see how this bill does, and why people support or oppose it.

  2. finnegan says:

    Good points on the definition of felons, Gxeremio. Perhaps a distinction should be made between violent crime (and/or larceny, etc) and people in possession of falsified documents.

    If Gilbert’s bill passes, we would have a slippery slope indeed.

  3. What you guys, along with Farley don’t seem to understand is that the penetration of our borders is a crime in and of itself. The Section 287(g) legislation enables ICE-trained law enforcement officers to ascertain immigration status and arrest violators under Federal immigration law.

    It’s a shame it took little ‘ole me to introduce both City and County law enforcement to Section 287(g)…I think my first posting about it was LAST YEAR on Republitarian.

    We, as a community, simply cannot be called upon to bleed ourselves dry monetarily for the benefit of illegal aliens — let alone the possible security threat illegal aliens represent.

  4. Gxeremio says:

    I thought Libertarians were for “open borders for peaceful people.”
    I’m not sure we’re being bled dry by any means – what do you mean? When you compare the economic advantage of cheap and hard-working labor, I think the equation works out for our benefit. Or don’t you believe in capitalism? ;-)

  5. ktr001 says:

    I think saying Americans are “called upon to bleed ourselves dry…” is a very dramatic interpretation of the immigration debate, as well as alleging that illegal aliens are a possible security threat to our community and our country. Just because they are illegal, and have broken the law in order to enter this country does not mean they’re violent or that their next illegal act will be murder, it might simply mean they’re in dire need of a better situation than they have.

    I do understand your concerns, though, David. Its not “bleeding us dry,” but it is unfair. It’s always a bit disheartening when you look at your “net pay” on a paycheck and then look at the taxes being taken out of your “net pay.” Being a liberal, I believe in taxes (but that they should be higher for the rich—a whole other can of worms) and like to think our government takes them in order to do things which will benefit us all, and benefit those of us who would like to work but cannot. It burns me up inside that illegal immigrants are either not paying taxes (paid in cash) and are still taking advantage of programs that our taxes fund or use illegal documents that lie about their status as taxpayers in order to receive the benefits of real taxpayers. If you don’t contribute, you shouldn’t receive.

    And though this is as conservative a comment as I’m publicly willing to say, I think that if an immigrant is arrested on felony charges and cannot produce valid proof of residency, they should be deported. Our legal system is so unbelieveably cluttered, at the cost of the American public, that even trying people who are illegal (meaning they broke a law to even be in the situation) is an outrageous request. True, Americans abuse the legal system, but since they’re legal citizens, it is their unfortunate right to sue McDonald’s because the coffee they spilled all over themselves is too hot.

    Our government has in place a system to welcome immigrants. But we have to accept them within reason, and we should stop feeling guilty when we’ve exceed our capabilities. We have legal citizens starving, and without medical coverage. Lets concentrate on the problems within before tackling the problems of everyone else. Gxeremio makes a good point that we either need to adopt a no-tolerance policy or forgive and forget before beginning a new approach. Either way, it’s a horrible decision to have to make and it’s going to take a strong leader to make it.

  6. finnegan says:

    Actually, most undocumented workers (in this area anyway) are paid “over the table” meaning that they are using false SS numbers, so they are in fact paying taxes. If you’ll read that link to the NYT article, you’ll see that there are literally billions of dollars being dumped into the SS system that they will never be able to claim.

  7. ktr001 says:


    Gxeremio, I disagree with your comment about David not believing in capitalism and am not really sure what logic you used. No, cheap labor over hard labor will not benefit us in the end. If one guy uses cheap labor to do the same job as the guy who pays well, then the cheap guy drives the other one out of business and has created a monopoly for himself — which is exactly what capitalism seeks to avoid! Plus, the only guy who benefits from running all the competition off is himself, not “us.” Minimum wage seeks to create competition by regulating salary for wage workers. If someone gets away with paying illegal immigrants below the minimum they are undermining the goals of a capitalistic society.

  8. Gxeremio says:

    ktr001…thanks for your comments.
    I realize it’s an oversimplification, but my understanding of capitalism is that it includes private ownership, competition, and “free markets,” in the sense that there are not a lot of barriers to marketing yourself and your ideas. This means open access to goods AND labor, across national boundaries.
    As finnegan points out, most illegal immigrants in this area and throughout the country work with false papers, meaning they get paid at least minimum wage and pay taxes. Because at least part of their earnings stays in the community, and another part goes to taxes, it is better for OUR national economy to have illegal workers in this country than for corporations to ship jobs overseas, or simply import goods. It is also better for OUR economy to draw hardworking and highly motivated employees here, not simply to keep labor costs in check (as opposed to many European systems, for example), but also to maintain a high level of productivity.
    In my above post, I was going off of David’s history with the Libertarian Party and his current affiliation (I think) with the Republican Liberty Caucus. Many libertarians go so far as to support a kind of anarcho-capitalism, so I am curious how David reconciles the Libertarian ideology with his statements here which sound kind of populist and protectionist.

  9. I’ll address the comments, above, later in the morning. Got a kid to get to school.

  10. Gxeremio wrote: “I thought Libertarians were for ‘open borders for peaceful people.'” I am for open borders for peaceful people — as long as those people follow our law for legal entry into our country. That’s why we’re talking about ILLEGAL aliens.

    One of a government’s legitimate functions is to defend the borders of this country. Why do you appear to have a problem with that? Do you also leave your doors unlocked at night so “peaceful” homeless can come in and crash?

    Hospitals around the country, particularly in the southwestern U.S., are having to close down because of the unpaid bills left to them by illegals. Schools around the country (particularly within the City of Harrisonburg and Arlington County in Virginia) are having to inflate their budgets huge amounts to accomodate the LEP students (both illegal and legal) and the criminal justice system, around here, appear to be inundated with illegals.

    Assuming, arguendo, that finnegan’s statement about illegals working with false ids is true, this presents yet another violation of law by the illegal. Once discovered, I’ll sure the Social Security account and taxes paid by the illegal are seized by federal law enforcement, because such taxing would be documented by the employer.

    As far as the shipment of jobs overseas as an alternative to the employment of illegal aliens, I would propose that NAFTA is the greatest reason for the jobs exodus from our country.

    According to a great book, the “Book of Lists” (see disinfo.com), we were told that NAFTA would create at least 200,000 jobs, however, after it’s implementation over 200,000 jobs left the U.S. from just the top 100 companies that moved jobs out.

    Locally, we’re not going to export poultry out of the country to have it processed and sent back in…get rid of the illegals and the market will adjust pricing based on market forces – the illegal alien. We’re also not going to build houses in another country and import them back into the local market.

  11. Gxeremio says:

    “Open borders,” to me, means open borders. Not closed borders, unless you fill out paperwork. So yes, there are currently immigrants here illegally, but I was referring to the question of what open borders means to you, since really you seem to be arguing for closed borders. I do lock my doors at night, but my family has a key to get in. And if my friend knocks, I don’t keep them outside either.

    I’ve heard the (specious) argument about closed hospitals many times before, so I decided to check the facts. Many hospitals have, in fact, closed, but connecting their closure to illegal immigration is incorrect. Here are some facts about illegal immigrants and the state of emergency care:
    “Health care expenditures are substantially lower for immigrants than for US-born persons.”
    “Contrary to popular belief, communities with high levels of uninsured, Hispanic or immigrant residents generally have much lower rates of per person hospital emergency department (ED) use than other communities.”
    The California Hospital Association lists many reasons for closed hospitals, but none of them have to do directly with illegal immigrants – they have to do with new rules about number of staff per bed, general problems of uninsured patients (among US citizens too), overuse of emergency rooms, consolidation of services in coprporate-owned hospitals, and lack of staff.
    Many immigrants use emergency care rather than going to primary care physicians. A simple redirection of these patients would save most of the costs of emergency care for illegal immigrants.

    School expenditures are much higher per capita for special ed. than for ESL, and the growing number of SPED students, in addition to costs of high-stakes testing, has driven a lot of the growth in per-pupil spending in Harrisonburg.

    I have seen no factual evidence that the criminal justice system in Harrisonburg is “inundated with illegals.” Do you have any such evidence?

    Your argument about seizure of taxes and Social Security payments paid by undocumented (or falsely-documented) workers is directly refuted by the NY Times article finnegan included at the top of this story.

    I understand your argument about NAFTA. However, I am currently reading Thomas Friedman’s “The World Is Flat,” which suggests that because of globalization certain trends are inevitable – industry will move to places where it can make the most money. Poultry and construction, as you point out, are top industries for using undocumented workers locally, but they are also spread in other fields including hospitality, fast food, manufacturing and processing. Interestingly, when some local poultry companies shut down a few years ago local schools expected a decline in the number of immigrant students – but that didn’t happen, as we all know.

  12. Just like you write, if your friends knock, you don’t leave them outside…you classify your friends as such because you KNOW them. We don’t know who’s illegally penetrating our borders and as a sovereign country, we have every right and, in fact, responsibility to protect and secure our borders.

    With respect to the affect illegal aliens are having on our medical system, countrywide, I’d suggest reading http://www.jpands.org/vol10no1/cosman.pdf. It’s from the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons and in this article, the writer calls for the closure of America’s borders. You didn’t cite your quotes, but I’ll take the word of the author of this piece, and numerous others who take this side of the argument.

    SPED students don’t make up 39% of the City Schools…I understand the costs involved with them, but I’d wager most SPED students are native born, United States citizens. I’d also wager that of the 39% of the LEP students, most are likely illegal.

    Gee, I’d be stereotyping, but I made the statement about the illegals and the criminal justice system here locally, because I get the arrest reports weekly.

    I haven’t read for the NY Times article, perhaps I can today.

  13. Gxeremio says:

    David, again thanks for your comments. It’s good to talk about these things openly, because half-truths and prejudices often go underground.

    First, in response to the article by Dr. Cosman: she was not a medical doctor. She was a lawyer who worked in fields unrelated to emergency care. This was primarily an opinion piece, which has been bandied about as if it were something more. Find out more about Dr. Cosman here. I did cite my quotes, by hyperlinking them to the articles in which they appeared – from the US government and from advocacy groups for hospitals and nurses (who would be the first to complain if their jobs were at risk because of illegal immigrants). Dr. Cosman was speaking as a private citizen concerned about the issue, not with any authority or even, apparently, experience.

    Regarding schools, which is an area I am very familiar with as a former ESL teacher in Harrisonburg, most of our ESL students are US-born in Puerto Rico or other states. And not all 39% receive ESL services; not even close to that. ESL is a label, with a wide range of English-language abilities within it. It simply means that English is not the first language of their family.

    It’s fine to say you get arrest reports weekly, but do you have any *evidence* for your statement that illegal immigrants are inundating the local criminal justice system? I read the local papers too.

    Another interesting note on this topic – there was an AP article in the DNR today (the same article can be found here) about a study of illegal immigration requested by one of the county supervisors in Prince William County, who obviously agreed with you that the costs outweigh the benefits. Unfortunately, the study they commissioned came to the opposite conclusion: that the economic benefit is greater than the cost, and that costs are hard to estimate.

  14. cook says:

    Here is one FACT about the current state of immigration law: for most Central American laborers such as the thousands here in Rockingham County, there is no legal path into the United States. None.

    Therefore, comments such as “I am for open borders for peaceful people — as long as those people follow our law for legal entry into our country” are nonsense. There is no such law. It is not possible for them to enter legally.

    That is why a change in the law is necessary. I agree that we must protect our borders, but the first step to protecting our borders is enacting laws that allow the workers we need to enter legally. If it is done properly, then the only people entering illegally are the people we don’t need.

  15. finnegan says:

    Thanks for clarifying, cook. Most people don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to immigration law. I know you do. I’m slowly learning.

  16. Aaron, I know you know what the law is, and I know you have a grasp on what you think the law should be. I think ICE has a 150,000/year quota for green cards for Mexicans.

    You can’t possibly believe that we let no Mexicans in here legally.

    The first step in securing our borders is to close and secure them…immigration reform is the second thing…it’s not like we don’t have space for more in our country.

  17. cook says:

    I did not say we let no Mexicans in here legally; I am saying that under current immigration law the laborers we need in Rockingham County do not qualify for documentation.

    Generally speaking, if you are rich and/or educated (doctors, nurses, computer technology, etc), you can probably obtain permission to enter the US. If you are a poor laborer, you cannot.

    I’d be happy to discuss exceptions to that general rule. You may ask, for example, are there ANY Mexican laborers here in Harrisonburg with permission. Answer: yes, and most who are obtained their status directly or indirectly through the 1986 “amnesty.”

    If the statue of liberty were dedicated today, would this line be posted at her feet: “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

  18. Adam Sharp says:

    Every time I read what Mr. Cook writes, I like him more and more.

    (I haven’t forgotten you, Gxeremio – way to out-libertarian the local libertarian.

  19. Gxeremio says:

    Adam, I agree with you about Cook’s posts.

    As for the other comment, “To the Republicans I am as a Republican, to the Democrats as a Democrat, and to the Libertarians a Libertarian, so that by all means some might be saved from inconsistent worldviews.” Sound familiar? :-)

    Actually, as some here know I am a former card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party, but have let my membership lapse for many years now. My basic conclusion is that we need consistency, either of libertarian freedom, or of an active and transparent government, to guard us against the excesses of our age. Since the winds aren’t going towards libertarian freedom at the moment I’ve switched to advocating for an active but transparent government (active in the sense of sensibly addressing problems, anyhow).

  20. cook says:

    “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
    — January 20, 1981

    “How do you like me now?”
    — Toby Keith

  21. Adam Sharp says:

    The longer Republicans are in charge, the more Reagan sounds right.

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