I have been writing on immigration since I first ran for congress in 2005. As a result I can honestly tell you there is no other subject that incites more than this one.
To begin with, I believe the subject of immigration requires breaking it down to three precise areas of discussion, political, legal and the practical side.
The well known political side depends on whether your of a conservative or liberal persuasion. Conservatives are usually dead fast regarding the idea of rounding the eleven million or so up and sending back to their country of origin with no legal or amnesty status on the horizon. On the other end of the stick are the liberals who believe in amnesty and legalization with a path towards citizenship.
On the other hand is the legal side of the argument. You’ve probably heard of the massive roundups in the Eisenhower era and a few others afterwards. However, times have changed since then and so have laws thanks to multiple federal court decisions. More recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Zadvydas v. Davis (2001) that “due process” of the 14th Amendment applies to all people in the United States whose presence maybe or is “unlawful, involuntary or transitory.”
Now that we understand the eleven million have constitutional rights, we must look at the idea of rounding them up. The 4th Amendment guarantees everyone the right to be free from illegal searches without “probable cause”. The Supreme Court has made it simple; before one can be stopped, questioned or searched by a government official they “must” have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and the subject may have committed that crime. The fact that their skin color may be different or that they don’t speak english does not qualify as probable cause.
At this point I’d like to clarify the difference between one who is actually witnessed the commission of the crime of crossing the border and one who hangs out in front of a Home Depot store looking for work. The first triggers probable cause, the second does not. We also must understand that once again everyone including those 11 million also have 4th., 5th., 6th and 8th Amendment protection which assures them of the right to be heard through a court procedure, before any deportation could occur.
For many years our immigration courts have been understaffed, underfunded and struggling to keep pace with the number of cases submitted. At the present time there are only 58 Immigration Courts in this country and they have over 500,000 cases waiting to be heard which would take 524 additional judges to clear the system’s backlog.
Now for the practical side. It’s not going to happen. Even if the courts were to allow it we would first have to identify the 11 million, locate them, round them up and place them in some sort of detention facility while they waited for a court hearing. Imagine what it would cost from the time you located them to the time they were finally adjudicated and deported. Many assume they all come from Mexico and we can just drive them to the border however this is not the case. In most cases we would have to provide them with an airline ticket to their country of origin.
What would it cost to round them up, house and feed them for a year or more or then (assuming they are found guilty) put them on a plane back to Ecuador? Never mind the cost of building hundreds of new court houses, hiring thousands of new judges and immigration officers.
The overall economics of the plan would make healthcare look inexpensive. For all of the above, I believe we need to develop a plan which leads to legalization and eventually citizenship.
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