“Undocumented Immigrants” Are Not Criminals
wpedon id=8560

About the Author

author photo

Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

See All Posts by This Author

“Undocumented Immigrants” Are Not Criminals

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.

There is a legal difference between improper entry and unlawful presence.  Many assume that being illegally present means the person is also the derogatory wetback latino swimming across the Rio Grande without permission.  Many undocumented immigrants actually come to the country lawfully but have overstayed their welcome – sort of like your drunk neighbor who does not realize the party is over.  By itself, being undocumented does not rise to the level of felony.  Please note, this is the author’s opinion, not a legal interpretation.
The point here is simple, criminal is a distinction reserved to the more serious offenses – those which qualify for prison.  Some say this argument is just splitting hairs.  I think not.  I think it is important to distinguish the seriousness of an offense.  Check my traffic record and you might see my personal justification for such clarity.  I have a number of traffic violations, even moving violations, but no one calls me a criminal.  Someone once called the City Hall Secret Police to report my grass needed attention.  There was another time when I thought about having a garage sale without proper permits.
Some undocumented immigrants are also guilty of improper entry.  These two charges combined and proved in a court of law, do not rise to the level of felony.  To distinguish the level of crime committed is to bring sanity to the plans for resolution.

Comments are closed.