L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

13 June 2007 Blog Home : June 2007 : Permalink

What to Do With (Criminal) Illegal Immigrants?

NB This post is focussed on US Illegal Immigration but I believe many of the same points apply elsewhere

The always excellent Patterico has an ongoing series (now up to #10) called “Deport the Criminals First� where he lists the illegal aliens who are arrested, released (or deported and then come back to the USA) only to commit more crimes. As Patterico does, I think it makes sense to check the immigration status of suspects and particularly of convicted criminals and to ensure that illegal aliens who commit crimes are not treated the same way legal residents are. However given that, as in this case, criminals that are deported frequently return to commit more crime I'm not entirely sure that deportation is the best solution.

Also in the news this week has been the discovery that the death penalty is a deterrent (and not just because dead men commint no crimes). This may seem like a non sequitur but it isn't because it indicates to me that criminals are generally a somewhat rational bunch who react to carrots and sticks in similar fashion to the rest of us. It also seems to me that potential or actual illegal immigrants (whether otherwise criminal or not) will also react to incentives.

At present it seems to me that illegal immigrants see little downside to their illegal status and little benefit in trying to become legal residents. At present legal residents tend to have to pay taxes, serve on juries and other things that illegals don't need to worry about and illegal immigrants are able to work, buy cars, get emergency healthcare and so on just like their legal fellows so it looks like the current system actually tilts the system in favour of being an illegal. Now of course this is not completely tilted towards illegality, illegal immigrants do find it hard to get high-paying salaried jobs, buy houses or otherwise move up from a menial, low wage standard of living without turnign to crime, but even drudge work in the US allows for a higher standard of living than the illegals can get back in their homeland(s).

So the obvious answer is to modify the incentives so that immigrants come to the US legally, pay taxes and have the opportunity to advance but yet produce disincentives so that criminal immigramts/would be immigrants are convinced to not reside in the US. Since I want both carrots and sticks I am not in the Hugh Hewitt/La Shawn Barber/Michele Malkin camp of wanting to kick out all current illagal immigrants although I am distinctly in favour of the US improving border security and enforcing existing laws about the employability etc. of illegals. My problem is that my view seems to get aligned with idiots like the one Baldilocks goes after here who seem to think that completely open borders (carrots only) are the only way to go.

So what do I want to see? Firstly the carrots. I think that something like the proposed Z Visa program is a good idea to regularise all those illegal immigrants who have come to the US and become generally law-abiding non-citizens. Along with that I'd like to see a strightforward visa program where the average applicant (no matter what his or her origin) should be able to receive a temporary visa permitting work so long as the immigrant remains contactable by the immigration authorities and that this visa should be turned into a normal Z visa most of the time. Z visas should be of limited duration (say 3-5 years) but extensible once and automatically renewable if the immigrant has left the country for a significant period of time (maybe 1-2 years,  maybe less but in any case something longer that a weekend in Tijuana). Z visa holders of good standing should also be permitted to naturalize and becoem full US citizens at the end of the visa duration. The US benefits enormously from the fatc that people want to come and live/work there so it should make it easy for people to do so. Unlike England (say) the US has no excuses about lack of space or resources to house immigrants so it should let them in legally if they want to come.

However all this visa laxity must be tied to some other measures to provide the necessary sticks. The first is that if you are convicted if a crime, even a misdemeanor, and do not have a visa you are deported immediately and barred from re-entry. The second is that if you are arrested then even if not convicted you must either obtain the Z visa or be deported. The third is that violent criminal illegals and those caught re-entering after having been deported shall be placed in camps near the border where they will serve a sentence of 5 years cleaning up and building border fences, they will then be deported. The fourth is that US citizens and legal residents who knowingly aid and abet illegal immigrants to obtain jobs or tax-funded services (education, healthcare...) shall be liable to a year per offense in the same border camps, this would include employers who fail to check the immigrant status of (would be) employees as well as lawyers, journalists and activists who encourage illegal immigration (so Linda Chavez would be on the border cleaning up the litter left behind by her beloved illegals). This would also apply to Mexican officials who lack diplomatic immunity and live in the US (ones with diplomatic immunity who support illegal immigrants would simply be told to leave). I'd also like to see that illegal immigrants who die in these camps would not be buried but placed prominently on the border on paths where illegal immigrants enter. On that note, given that legal visas will be easy to obtain, illegal immigrants who are convicted of terrorism or other capital crimes (murder, rape etc.) shall be executed after no more than six months of appeal and the appeals shall be limited to merely considering the facts at issue. In other words the presumption shall be that you did not become a legal resident because you knew that your application would be denied because you were a terrorist/criminal and that therefore you tacitly admit to guilt. Finally I'm in favour of paying snitches; if you report an illegal you get say $1000, if you report a US citizen aiding illegals you get some percentage of the fine that will be levied against them and so on.

Of course I suspect that some of my sticks (e.g. the corpse idea) would not pass, but I reckon that the problem could be solved so long as enough of them are.