“law-abiding illegal aliens”

Brent Finnegan -- January 27th, 2007

In today’s DNR, in reference to the ICE immigrant detainment program, Sheriff Don Farley was quoted as saying, “We are not looking for law-abiding illegal aliens… those who are here trying to be productive members of society.”

I’m sure many locals will take issue with the term “law-abiding illegal,” but it’s possible that Farley understands what others don’t: just because you break a law, that does not necessarily make you a criminal.


10 Responses to ““law-abiding illegal aliens””

  1. JGFitzgerald says:

    Local cops have a contradiction to deal with where undocumented immigrants are concerned. Cops have to be able to establish some level of trust in the poorest communities, because that’s where much of the crime happens. They can’t establish that trust if they’re checking people’s papers. Still, the police work for a larger community where immigrants are the newest enemy invented by politicos who need a distraction from their failures at solving real problems. In that community, immigrants are feared and hated by people who want all immigrants, including the Salvadorans, Puerto Ricans, Guatemalans, and Pacific Islanders, sent back to Mexico. Police must maintain a policy, largely unspoken, of enforcing laws that involve crimes against persons, while leaving crimes against documentation for the feds.

  2. Sheriff Don Farley was quoted as saying:

    “We are not looking for law-abiding illegal aliens…”

    Just what part of illegal don’t you understand, Sheriff?

  3. finnegan says:

    Briggman, you’re exactly who I had in mind when I wrote, “I’m sure many locals will take issue with the term ‘law-abiding illegal.'”

  4. JGFitzgerald says:

    Think of it this way: Should limited police resources be used to arrest those driving drunk, those driving into other cars, or those driving without a license? If the guy in the next car has no license, I figure that’s somebody else’s problem. If he’s drunk as a lord, that’s everybody’s. If he dents my fender, that’s mine. That’s why many of us prefer “undocumented” to “illegal.” It’s not Orwellian newspeak. It’s making the distinction between those actively breaking laws and those whom the law defines as breaking the law. It’s the difference between those behaving illegally, and those who are classified as illegal. Not the same thing. One puts a deputy on the highway catching speeders. The other puts him in the middle of Court Square asking for my papers.

  5. finnegan says:

    Joe gets it.

    I was recently talking to an undocumented immigrant here who was a cab driver for a decade in Mexico, but cannot get a drivers license here for obvious reasons.

  6. cook says:

    Just a technical legal point, for what it’s worth: Being undocumented is not a crime. That’s right. Entering without permission or overstaying one’s visa is not a violation of any criminal statute nor subject to any criminal sanction (jail, fine). There have been several attempts to criminalize out-of-status-ness, but none have yet been enacted.

  7. Reaganite says:

    Cook, correct me if I am wrong, but it isn’t a crime until an alien returns following a removal. Prior to a removal, an undocumented entry/overstay is a civil violation.

  8. cook says:

    That’s right, Reaganite. Driving 81 miles per hour on Interstate-81 is a crime and deemed by the law to be more heinous than being an “illegal alien.” (Who wants to cast the first stone?)

    Federal law (8 USC 1326) makes it a crime punishable by up to two years in prison to be found in the United States after having been deported. That section provides for enhanced penalties if a person were deported for having committed certain crimes. For example, returning after deportation can be punished by up to 20 years in prison if the deportation were for certain so-called “aggravated” felonies.

  9. FWIW, I don’t think local law enforcement needs to be going out looking for people solely because they may or may not be an illegal alien, however, when police charge someone for any criminal charge — I’m not talking about infractions — then local law enforcement should have the ability to ascertain their legal status in the country and detain them if they’re not in the country legally.

    Aaron, I know you do a lot with foreign nationals in your practice, what’s your solution to the OTM (Other Than Mexican) who chooses to enter the U.S. by penetrating our border with Mexico? I’m much more concerned about the OTM problem than the Mexican aliens

    Seems funny to me that we’re ignoring, almost totally, our much longer, more open border with our neighbors to the North, but then, those people “look like us”, don’t they?

  10. cook says:

    “when police charge someone for any criminal charge — I’m not talking about infractions — then local law enforcement should have the ability to ascertain their legal status in the country and detain them if they’re not in the country legally.”

    Briggman, rest easy, because that is already being done here in Rockingham County. In fact, some officers & magistrates are doing this sort of thing for very minor traffic infractions.

    Regarding your second paragraph, the first step toward a solution would be to separate the immigrant worker problem and the terrorist problem. Treating them as one and the same has been disastrous for finding policy solutions to both problems.

    And the silence on the northern border speaks loud and clear.

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