There are graduated laws identifying the seriousness of offense. The undocumented immigrant ‘violation’ is in the nature of a misdemeanor – more like a traffic violation than an armed robbery. Our system of justice uproots lives and sends someone to prison in only the most egregious of violations. To uproot and deport someone on the basis of being undocumented is an unfair application of justice, both ethically and monetarily. The use of terms like “undocumented” and “illegal” are important distinctions. In this case, “illegal” is a prejudicial term used to imply danger or serious threat to public safety. Illegal is not a useful term when referring to the immigration policy of the United States.
My civic volunteer work takes me to places where there are disproportionate numbers of felons. Felonies are considered serious crimes. Felon, as a noun, is a derogatory term meaning you have been a bad boy. But let’s stick with the law – a felon is someone who qualifies for prison. A misdemeanor is a lesser crime – generally considered a civil action. Imagine careless and imprudent driving – by itself a misdemeanor, but cause physical harm or death and lookout buddy – prison is just around the corner – and the offender will never be able to legally purchase a handgun for the rest of their life.
People say to me, “Yeah, I am a felon”. When they see the look of surprise on my face the quickly add, “But is is just a Class D felony”. I don’t know what that means but I assume they must not have committed a violent act against another. Even felons have scruples and a sense of justice.