Clinton's promise to only deport criminals

Today at the debate she promised to only deport criminals:

A couple of points I’d like opinions and debate on:

  1. Is this just campaign talk or are they serious? Wouldn’t Obama already be doing this if it was possible? Prioritizing felons is one thing, vowing simply to not deport non-criminals strikes me as a pretty extreme position and in clear opposition to not only current law, but also any plausible immigration reform law, even if we assume a Democratic Congress.

  2. If this policy was actually implemented, what is the difference between this policy and open borders? Most people here illegally are visa overstayers. If this policy was to go forward, doesn’t that mean that anyone who got a visa to enter this country would have license to move here permanently? I guess it’s not total open borders, since not everyone can get a visa, but according to this site, 10 million visas are issued a year.

That’s a pretty staggering number of people to say, “Hey, your visa is just a suggestion, you don’t have to go home when it expires.”

Overstaying your visa might be more common, but it’s less problematic. The same way a houseguest who refuses to leave is less dangerous than a home invader. If someone has been checked out on entry that at least rules out some of the things you might be worried about, while someone who sneaks in is a person with an unknown criminal record, bearing unknown diseases and carrying unknown cargo.

THen how come there’s zero talk about immigration reform that creates a legal framework for people to just come here and stay if they want to? Seems like enforcement discretion is a rather arbitrary and patently unfair way to address the issue. It makes the people who do the right thing into suckers.

If Clinton and Sanders actually believe that visa overstayers who are otherwise law abiding should never be deported, then shouldn’t they be pushing to have that made law as part of immigration reform?

  1. Just campaign talk.
  2. See 1.

She obviously didn’t even want to say that, but campaigns don’t lend themselves well to nuance.

Wow, great link. What Kevin Drum says here is pretty observant:

It does seem like that’s what’s going on this cycle. No one’s interested in what can actually be done, they just want to know that a candidate will fight for the most extreme possible position and if they fail, at least they fought.

The way I heard it, she said she would prioritize deporting criminals. She didn’t she would only deport criminals. Did I hear it wrong? If you want to argue that it amounts to the same thing, maybe. But it’s still not what I heard her say.

According to the transcript, she tried to avoid saying it, but got cornered by Ramos and agreed to not deport non-criminals. Now I’m not a Clinton, so there could be wiggle room in there that I can’t identify, but it sure sounded to me like she made a promise to Ramos and the Univision audience.

I kept expecting her to promise that she’d only deport lawbreakers.

I think it would be very hard to live here illegally and NOT break some law or other. If you use a fake SS# to get a job, aren’t you breaking the law? If you work without one, and don’ pay taxes, you’re breaking the law. Unless you were some rich guy just living off your savings, I don’t see how you could stay in the country very long without breaking the law.

THat’s another issue. Since almost all people here illegally are actually lawbreakers, often felons, there’s a lot of BSing going on about the issue.

Who do you figure is here illegally without being a lawbreaker?

Anyone who is living here without ever having to falsify a document where it is a felony to do so. If someone is just overstaying their visa and living with someone else who is working legally, then they can stay here without running afoul of any laws. The problem comes when you have to support yourself by working.

Children? Even if older ones might be charged, do you think a baby brought over with its family would immediately be a lawbreaker? As it, it actively broke laws when it can’t even talk or walk?

I assumed the point was that the “here illegally” part sort of implies that the person is a lawbreaker by that action itself without running afoul of any further laws. Okay, you might give a pass to kids brought here by their parents, but it would seem the vast majority of illegal immigrants could technically be deported as lawbreakers ipso facto. By definition, they are breaking laws applying to immigration.

Not that I or I’m sure Mrs. Clinton think that’s the answer.

Nitpick but, no, not necessarily. Not every non-compliance with immigration requirements is an offence. If it were, those accused would be entitled to the presumption of innnocence, a trial, assistance of counsel, etc, etc before they could be sanctioned.

Failure to meet the requirements of the immigration regulations may render you liable to deportation, but that doesn’t mean you have broken any laws, any more than someone who is liable to involuntary detention under the mental health legislation has broken any laws.

Vox points out that Ramos got Obama to promise that he’d introduce an immigration reform bill in his first year in office.

So I guess that proves it’s all campaign talk.

That may be; I’m certainly no expert on immigration law. But then the term “here illegally” wouldn’t really apply to those situations, would it?

Perhaps, but the term “illegal immigrant” is used as a catch-all, really. It is a crime to enter the US improperly (eg enter via an unguarded part of the border, falsify a document such as a passport). It’s not a crime to overstay a visa, for example. I suspect a large number of people referred to as “illegal immigrants” fall into the latter category.

But those are also the most problematic from a policy perspective. with the US issuing 10 million visas a year, there’s just no way a President can promise to only deport criminals. It’s a green light for however many of those 10 million who want to to stay forever. It’s also a green light to use the visa process to move here permanently.

It’s a loose term. “Here illegally” could refer to anyone who is here but who hasn’t complied with the legal requirements for validating their presence, has no legal right to remain here and so is liable to deportation if detected.

“Illegal alien” is a term that appears a lot in US immigration law, and in general the term embraces both people who violated US law in the way in which they entered the country and people who entered lawfully but whose continued presence is unauthorized. And I think in popular parlance terms like “illegal immigrant” and “here illegally” are used in a similar way.

The result is that an illegal alien/illegal immigrant may or may not have breached US law/committed an offence under US law, but there generally isn’t any enquiry into this because it doesn’t matter; they are liable to deportation simply by virtue of having no authority to remain in the US, and they are processed and deported without any investigation, charge or trial arising out of any offence they may have committed when entering the country.