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Immigration Daily March 26, 2003
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Editor's Comments

Equal In Heroism, Equal In Punishment

Reuters reports that "A Marine who was among the first US soldiers to die in combat in Iraq was a Guatemalan once arrested as an illegal immigrant to the US." While this Marine and others in our armed forces perform acts of bravery, Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA) has proposed a bill that would impose on aliens who commit designated offenses imprisonment "under circumstances that stress strenuous work and sparse living conditions." What is the connection here? Simply this. The United States was founded on the principle of equality of human beings before the law. Whether you are rich or poor, liked or hated, low-skilled or highly skilled, well-connected or without friends, urbanite or live in a rural area, everyone is equal here before the law. If you commit an offense, you can expect to receive punishment that is equal to those who are similarly situated. Rep. Rohrabacher's bill would seek to change that fundamental principle, proposing as an example, that a US citizen burglar be treated more kindly than an alien burglar who reentered without permission. Bear in mind that the alien burglar would already be punished additionally for the crime of reentry without permission, what Rep. Rohrabacher seeks to do is to punish the burglary itself more harshly. We submit that this violates one of the founding principles of our country and is therefore un-American. We believe that the Marine who died in combat should be treated no differently than any other similarly situated Marine or other US combatant. His act of heroism is as praiseworthy as that of any other American in uniform. In America, we are all equal - equal in heroism, and equal in punishment.


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Featured Article

War-Time Immigration Policies
Gregory Siskind writes "Now that the war has begun, immigrants will now begin to realize the effects of various related government policies."

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Immigration Law News

Rep. Rohrabacher Proposes Bill To Mete Out Hard Labor Punishment To Aliens' Convicted Of Felony After Removal Subsequent To Felony Conviction
Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA) introduced a bill that proposes "To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to specify that imprisonment for reentering the US after removal subsequent to a conviction for a felony shall be under circumstances that stress strenuous work and sparse living conditions, if the alien is convicted of another felony after the reentry."

BICE Statement On Operation Liberty Shield
The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced the joint initiative which began seeking out specific Iraqi nationals unlawfully in the US and apprehending them as part of Operation Liberty Shield.

No Abuse Of Discretion Where Croatia's Current Political Situation Is Democratic And Allows Ownership Of Private Property
In Butkovic v. Ashcroft, No. 02-2421 (3rd Cir. Mar. 24, 2003), the court said that it agreed with the Board of Immigration Appeal's (BIA) that the current political situation in Croatia, which was democratic and allowed ownership of private property, belied any fear Petitioner might have had of persecution on account of his anti-communist beliefs.

California Carrying Of Concealed Dirk Or Dagger Is Not A Crime Of Violence
In US v. Medina, No. 01-41171 (5th Cir. Mar. 24, 2003), the court said that the district court errred in ruling that Defendant's California conviction for carrying concealed upon his person a dagger was an aggravated felony. The court also said that because there was no substantial risk that an offender may use violence to perpetuate the weapon possesion offense, his conviction did not constitute a crime of violence under 18 USC 16(b), and therefore was not an aggravated felony under 8 USC 1101(a)(43).

FBI Interviews Lead To Detentions Of 30 Iraqis Living In US
The Washington Post reports that "Although the FBI says it is not using the interviews to arrest large numbers of Iraqis, two law enforcement officials speaking on condition of anonymity said about 30 have been detained on immigration charges since the program began last week."

US Marine Killed In Iraqi Combat Was Once Illegal Alien
Reuters reports that "A Marine who was among the first US soldiers to die in combat in Iraq was a Guatemalan once arrested as an illegal immigrant to the US."

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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:
Whoops. Mr. Alexander's letter is not responsive what I have written.

Dave Anderson

Dear Editor:
Work opportunities abound in our country. The need is for unskilled labor. The available jobs are mostly menial and pay low wages. Americans do not want to do this kind of work. Work opportunities do not abound in Mexico. The work force far exceeds the opportunities. The result is unemployment and poverty. Mexico has a surplus of unskilled labor. Our border is effectively closed to the legal entrance of unskilled workers. All of the above are repititious facts, but they are ignored or denied by those who are critical. There can be no solution to immigration until the facts are accepted as having substance and remedial measures are taken. Remedial measures must include a realistic way by which unskilled laborers can be admitted legally to our country to fill the need. A solution for the undocumented immigrants already in this country (some for many years) will never be had until they are first identified and accomodated. It is fustrating just to repeat the facts without some action.

R.E. Baer

Dear Editor:
Deportation of illegals should be vigorously pursued despite Mr. Baer's claim that it would take 1150 years. My "one at a time" comment made no mention of a one per hour rate and certainly that rate could be considerably improved. It is not the ability to deport, but the will that is problematical. Name not supplied (3/24) eloquently points out the highly selective compassion of those who unrealistically, look towards idealistic poems, novels, inscriptions or other such as a basis for immigration policies today. While not denying that compassion is a virtue, it can also used as a ploy and tactic to justify a position or goal. But why should even a sincere compassion for noncitizens take precedent over that of our own citizens? Are US citizens now expected to sacrifice our goals, concerns, lifestyles as well as tax money to the teeming masses of the world? If so, the "American dream" has become a nightmare and the "golden door" a prison gate, at least for them. While the generosity of Americans including their entry policies exceeds that of any nation, there must be strict limits as others now take advantage of liberal policies, some of them terrorists and radicals. Advocates who are unable to place America's security, concerns and needs above those of foreigners may be the foremost argument against the many illusory, promised benefits of migration as it demonstrates that the essential process of assimilation remains extremely difficult. What becomes of American heritage and culture if our future is an unassimilated polyglot of peoples? Why should Mexicans arrogantly assume unlimited numbers can come here, furthering the Aztlan agenda? Over the first century of US history, we received about two immigrants a day. Today, the rate is over two every minute not including illegals. Over 1.3 million new legal immigrants and over 1.5 million illegal aliens come here every year. The Mexican population in the US is now over 25 million, many of whom have dual citizenship and are viewed by some as reclaiming the lands they "lost" (sold). While a sincere compassion is virtuous, it is also true that "no man can serve two masters" and that we should care for our own. Allegiance, liberty, sovereignty, self-interest, immigration limits and defense with regards to America and its citizens are equally valid attributes and required for our survival. To diminish or destroy any of these by excessive, misguided compassion and immigration policies is foolish at best and treasonous at worst.

R. L. Ranger

Dear Editor:
The news item of the US Marine killed in combat and at one time was an illegal alien indicates illegal spanish immigrants are not here just to take from the country. There are many former illegal spanish immigrants fighting in Iraq today and I hope that it will inspire some respect to the people that immigrate to the US illegal or not, because what is in their heart only God knows and this is a good opportunity to show it. May God bless America and those legal and illegal immigrants that come here to make our nation a better nation and a better world forgives us our sometimes wrong assumptions.

C. da Silva

Dear Editor:
The following press release was released by the Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service.

LIRS President Ralston H. Deffenbaugh Jr. calls for DHS to reverse its policy toward asylum seekers announced last week as part of Operation Liberty Shield. "LIRS is particularly concerned with the protection of vulnerable persons who come to the United States to seek freedom from persecution," says Deffenbaugh in a letter sent to Homeland Security Secretary Thomas Ridge. "LIRS writes to express its deepest concerns about the impact of Operation Liberty Shield upon vulnerable asylum seekers including torture survivors, women and children who will be ineligible for parole from detention under the new policy with limited exceptions." Operation Liberty Shield is a series of domestic security measures, one of which calls for the automatic detention of individuals seeking asylum in America from at least 30 countries thought to harbor terrorists. Only sketchy details of the new policy have been published and the list of the countries is classified. "Imposing a policy of detention of asylum seekers based on their national origin will only further harm innocent persons already traumatized and isolated from their families," Deffenbaugh says. "DHS can protect this country in a fair and non-discriminatory manner by ensuring an independent process for asylum seekers seeking parole." Under current law, immigration officers have discretion to detain or parole someone seeking asylum in America. Those who pose no threat are often paroled or released to stay with family or friends while their asylum case is processed, which can take more than a year. "While working to increase America's security, we hope that you will maintain our country's historic commitment to the protection of refugees," continues Deffenbaugh. "LIRS urges the Government to ensure transparency and accountability in the development of new immigration policies. This policy change should have been made through administrative rule-making procedures and should have been published as a new rule for public comment." Deffenbaugh sites specific concerns regarding the new policy including these: How will unaccompanied minors be treated?, What will be considered a "limited humanitarian exception"?, Will asylum seekers who meet the asylum parole criteria (i.e., pose no danger to the community, have community ties, establish their identity, etc.) still be detained? Will this policy apply retroactively to asylum seekers who arrived prior to the announcement of Operation Liberty Shield? "I ask Secretary Ridge to address our concerns in a written rule," says Deffenbaugh. "And I ask that he publicly identify the list of countries that will be used by DHS to detain asylum seekers. Keeping the policy secret and issuing only limited guidance about the scope of the policy causes widespread fear and confusion in immigrant communities that may actually lead to less security. " LIRS is a national agency that resettles refugees and advocates for fair and just treatment for asylum seekers. In a nation built by immigrants, LIRS has carried on the Lutheran and American tradition of welcoming newcomers since 1939 and strives to ensure that tradition continues.

Meg Arenberg, President's Office Assistant
Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service (LIRS)

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