I keep reading about the federal bill that will MAKE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION A FELONY! It sounds so drastic, and so you can see why hundreds of thousands might be protesting a bill that makes such a radical change. For example, here is an article on yesterday’s march in the Los Angeles Times:
Candido Hernandez, 26, trekked through the mountains from Mexico more than two decades ago and now works construction to support his three U.S.-born children.
Carmen Vazquez, 50, cleaned homes in Los Angeles while relatives raised her daughter in El Salvador before she became a legal resident and the two were able to reunite here several years later.
Maria Ortega, 30, came from Mexico to look for better opportunities and found work at a plastics factory after presenting false documents.
The three were among a festive crowd police estimated at 500,000 that marched through downtown Los Angeles to City Hall on Saturday to support immigrants rights and oppose a pending federal bill that would make illegal immigration a felony.
Here’s the thing, though: illegal immigration is already a crime, punishable by 6 months in prison. By making illegal entry a felony, the bill simply increases the penalty from 6 months to a year and a day.
It also makes illegal presence a crime. But aside from making it easier to prosecute people who have overstayed their visas, this provision simply makes it easier to prosecute illegals whose initial illegal entry can no longer be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations having run.
In other words, it makes it easier to prosecute criminals. But it doesn’t make criminals out of illegals.
Shouldn’t the news stories make these points more clearly? I run into people all the time who think that illegal immigration is not a crime. It is. Our newspapers should educate people better on this point.
The wonky legal details supporting my statements above are tucked away in the extended entry. Interested law nerds can click on the “more” button immediately below.