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What Is A ‘Crime’ For An Undocumented Immigrant?

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What Is A ‘Crime’ For An Undocumented Immigrant?

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Demonstrators hold placards during a protest against the visit of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, at the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City, Mexico, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

Last week Donald Trump made waves by undermining perhaps the central issue of his nativist bid for the presidency,  his pledge to immediately begin deporting the 11 million people in the United States without proper documentation.

In a remarkable town hall hosted by Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump tried to use a straw poll of the audience to publicly “pivot” on his position — that is, he completely flopped on national television, leaving his campaign surrogates to filibuster for days of desperate and unanswerable cable interviews, building up to terminal anticipation for a speech on immigration Wednesday night. It all made Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s invitation to Trump for a meeting, and Trump’s acceptance of it, all but inexplicable.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s actual immigration policy is a complete mystery. Central to that mystery: What is a “crime” for an undocumented immigrant?

The word can mean anything, and that’s why Trump loves it so much.

In his town hall with Hannity, Trump specified “killers” and “the bad ones, the gang members,” would be kicked out immediately. Trump has since referenced “criminal illegal immigrants” several times.

But deporting undocumented immigrants who have committed felonies is the current the policy of the Obama administration: After suspected terrorists and spies, the Los Angeles Times reports, criminals are the highest priority for deportation. The president has deported around 2.5 million people during his two terms, more than any other president by far. He’s done more than enough to earn his “Deporter in Chief” moniker, and even Trump, in his “pivot,” praised the president for his enormous sum of deportations.

Then again, “criminal illegal immigrants” is redundant, and can be interpreted as such: Of immigrants deported from the U.S. with criminal records in 2013, the plurality of those — 31 percent, according to ICE data and reported by the LA Times — had records of immigration violation, including entry, reentry, false claims to citizenship and alien smuggling.

Yes: They were criminals by virtue of being undocumented — and so could many more millions of undocumented immigrants who are otherwise innocent of any crime.

Of course, if Trump really wanted to radically increase the number of yearly deportations, he would start with appointing more immigration judges. By law, even undocumented immigrants with criminal records have a right to appeal a deportation decision in front of a judge, and the wait for such hearings can last years, according to the LA Times.

Photo: Demonstrators hold placards during a protest against the visit of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, at the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City, Mexico, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

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8 Comments

    1. PrecipitousDrop September 1, 2016

      Poor, poor Otto!
      Like every failed matador, he can’t stay clear of the bull…

      Reply
  1. PrecipitousDrop September 1, 2016

    More chilling than the unanswered question of what constitutes a crime, is the question of who decides if “crime” has been committed? Does someone like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, or an Oath Keeper, run out to apprehend “the usual suspects?”
    Will there be any opportunity for due process — for anyone but, say, an elected official or sizable local employer? Hispanic families lived in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for over 50 years before the Declaration of Independence was written. Will the descendants of these old and established families also be rounded up? Will they be issued some “special” identification to show they’re “safe?”
    I agree that the United States must improve our immigration laws. Unfortunately (and typically), Trump and his angry mob have offered nothing of benefit — just more fear, hate, and divisiveness.

    Reply
    1. Kathleeneford2 September 1, 2016

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      Reply
    2. TZToronto September 1, 2016

      One can safely bet that, should Trump be elected and his plans implemented, those charged with rounding up “illegals” would be rewarded based on the number of individuals “captured.” Since charges would not have to be laid against those rounded up and no trials held, it would be easy for the “immigrant catchers” to simply grab the closest Hispanic-looking person and drag that person to the waiting truck for transport to the closest border. The result would be a lot of very prosperous rounder-uppers and an even larger number of citizens and legal immigrants (many not Hispanic at all) summarily deported to a country they’d never had any contact with.

      Reply
      1. Beethoven September 2, 2016

        All this reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Cheech Marin’s Born in East LA. The whole theme of the movie is that Cheech, who was a native born American citizen, is arrested in a raid of his place of employment by officers seeking illegal aliens, and because he can’t immediately prove his American citizenship, he is deported to Mexico, a place he had never even visited before, and spends most of the movie trying to get back across the border, along with a lot of Mexican citizens who want to get decent jobs in America.

        Reply
        1. PrecipitousDrop September 2, 2016

          It was a comedy, Ludwig. Not a fave of mine, but an enjoyable confection from 1987.
          I fear that the same story could be repeated thousands of times by a Trump administration. There’s nothing funny about that. It’s tragic.

          Reply
  2. AgLander September 1, 2016

    Americans are much more troubled by what Hillary Clinton has DONE versus what Donald Trump has SAID.

    Reply

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