Monday, March 30, 2009

Yet another bad idea

There's a rumor circulating around that the Harris County District Attorney's Office will require a sworn statement from defendants on plea papers as to whether they are in this country legally or not.

As I sit here thumbing through my copy of the Texas Penal Code I see criminal activity listed under the headings Offenses against the person, Offenses against the family, Offenses against property, Offenses against public administration, Offenses against public order and decency and Offenses against public health, safety and morals. Nowhere under any of these headings do I see where it's a crime in the state of Texas for a non-citizen to be here without the blessings of Congress or the Department of Homeland Security.

If someone crosses the border without permission they are breaking federal law - but they are not violating the laws of the state of Texas.

Having such language included on plea papers could expose a defendant to criminal liabilty for perjury (if he swears he is here legally when he's not) or for violating federal law (if he admits he is not here legally). The other option is for the criminal justice system to break down at the point judges will not accept altered plea papers or defendants will not sign them.

Illegal immigration has always been part of the fabric of this American life. People come to this country - some risking their lives - for two things: the chance to better themselves and their families and for the opportunities afforded by the freedom and liberty espoused in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the Bill of Rights.

Please note, Ms. Lykos, that the word citizen is not be found in the Bill of Rights.


trace Rabern said...

Great post. In my jurisdiction, Santa Fe, NM, city police were asked by ICE to document immigration status of people making a police call--that is, the victims of crime. ICE wanted local law enforcement to report people without legal status to ICE.

This turned out to be a bad idea. If illegal immigrants were targeted by ICE when they were the victims of crime, they would never report crimes. Immigrants would be reluctant to talk to officers, share information necessary for investigations. Moreover, for criminals, it would be open season on illegal immigrants, since they faced the Hobson's choice of getting police help and getting deported, or not getting police help and staying.

At the end of the day, our local police agencies bristled that they were being asked to do ICE's job, while making their own community more unsafe and unsettled. No one benefits from reduced reporting of crime, or making immigrants vulnerable (except, of course, those criminal who prey on immigrants).

Out city police refused, and in fact our city adopted a policy forbidding officers from reporting the immigration status of crime victims to ICE.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Thank you for your comment.

The irony is that Houston is a supposed "sanctuary" city and the police are not to ask the immigration status of anyone they encounter.

The Harris County Jail, however, is doing the dirty work at the behest of ICE.

Anonymous said...

I personally could care less if illegals are afraid of the police and get preyed on by criminals. They can solve the problem by getting the hell out. They aren't supposed to be here. I am tired of them overcrowding the emergency rooms, the schools, having to pay for their ESL classes and sucking the life out out of my tax dollars. I am sick of them turning areas of my town and my state into barrios where no one speaks English. I am sick of having to press 1 for English. I am sick of gangs from other countries controlling parts of Houston. I am sick of trying to go to Lowes or Home Depot and having my vehicle CHASED through the parking lot by 20+ illegals screaming at me in Spanish and trying to get into my SUV because they think I might hire them. I am sick of driving through hundreds of illegals lining Westpark every morning as I drive to the courthouse and running out into traffic. I want them gone, and I don't give a damn how they get that way.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Thank you for your comment. While I respect your opinion I would point out that nowhere in the Bill of Rights (or in the 14th Amendment) is the word "citizen" used. Those most precious rights are conferred upon anyone in the U.S. - whether here with the blessings of Congress and ICE or not.

Never forget that the first settlers in the Americas did not have papers, either.

Anonymous said...

Then the Constitution needs to be changed. And my ancestors came here in 1675, and they came here legally. If the law had required them to have papers at the time, and they had not gotten them, my opinion would be the same. The argument that the Founders didn't have papers is specious, because no one was required to have papers. Bottom line, we are asking people to obey the law. The present day "immigrants" are not obeying the law, hence the term "illegal."