Why Deporting Criminal Immigrants Is Justified
Mayor Michael C. Taylor, in response to news stories about the round-up of Chaldean immigrants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement this past weekend, posted this to his personal Facebook page:
I’m going to disagree with the mayor here. Although I too find the notion of families being separated, perhaps due in some cases to decades-old minor criminal offenses, heart-wrenching, it is important to get beyond the emotions the videos invoke and think clearly about what is going on here.
When you are an immigrant to this country, you are responsible to maintain your legal immigration status. You are responsible for your behavior. Therefore, you are responsible for making sure that your behavior does not do harm to your immigration status. Personal responsibility is the bedrock of American law, and it is paramount this informs your conduct when you are not legally entitled to remain here.
It is important to realize that the folks being deported knew what they were in for, or at the very least SHOULD have known. This is not happening at random: due process has been exercised in each and every individual deportation case. All of these folks have had their day in court before a judge. Every single one remained here on borrowed time until a deportation agreement could be worked out with the Iraqi government. Although some of the crimes people are being deported for are minor, some are very much not: rape and murder are in the list of offenses according to the news reports. I have no sadness in my heart for people who have committed rape or murder and are being deported as a result.
Everyone who lives in the United States is responsible for knowing the law, and in the special case of immigrants, how the laws of immigration apply specifically to them. Ignorance is no excuse. Neither is any language barrier: plenty of people are bilingual between immigrant tongues and English who could serve as translators. Knowing that you came here under a status that could be revoked should make you want to know what the rules are. That should be simple common sense. And knowing the rules is just as simple as asking the question.
I am not against giving immigrants with only minor criminal offenses a second chance if they go through a process and demonstrate they deserve one. It is my understanding, however, that in these cases we’ve gone way beyond that point. Again, we must understand that every deportee had their day in court, and the judge concluded that deportation was the only path that could be followed for them under the law. We have had due process. It should be respected.
Know that the law is being applied equally here, not only to Chaldeans and Assyrians, but also to Mexicans, Albanians, Muslims of various nationalities, and people from other nations. Americans sent the message rather convincingly in the last national election that they want their laws enforced, and immigration laws in particular, and so that is happening. People have been bemoaning Trump’s immigration policy, but the law is not new, and the enforcement of this part of it is not different. That there is a renewed emphasis on following it after nearly a decade of neglect is the only real change.
In the end, if you do not have a green card or citizenship status, you face deportation for committing a crime while here essentially as a guest of the United States. That may seem draconian given the circumstances Christian immigrants from Iraq are under, but the circumstances of fleeing a dangerous country are not unique. These immigrants should have known that being sent back to Iraq was a fate too terrible to allow to happen to themselves.
I am not at all convinced that shipping these few dozen people back to their native country is a bad thing. First, it gets some truly bad people off our streets. Second, it should help the ones who remain to understand the idea that if you come here you need to follow our laws, and that if you screw up, there may be no undoing it. As an immigrant without green card or citizen status, you are not entitled to remain here.
In the end, everyone should know this: being allowed to immigrate to the United States of America is a gift of freedom given to you by the descendents of past immigrants. Living here is not a right until you either obtain a green card or go through the process of becoming a citizen. Do not take the gift of freedom for granted: If you choose to behave criminally, the gift can be revoked. Unfortunately for those who were rounded up this past weekend, they now know this firsthand.