By Joe Guzzardi
May 18, 2016
In his recent Fox News appearance, Arizona Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told host Neil Cavuto that when it comes to immigration “complete lawlessness” prevails. Babeu noted that illegal immigrant Central American border crossings have increased 131 percent in the last six months, and that President Obama’s executive mandated deferred actions could, if the Supreme Court rules in favor, give millions of aliens work permits and temporary legal status.
When Cavuto asked about the 20,000 criminal aliens Immigration Customs and Enforcement has released, Babeu replied that the figure includes 208 convicted murderers, and 900 convicted of rape, child molestation, and sexual assault. In Babeu’s Pinal County, ICE released 500 criminal aliens with lengthy felonious histories, but did not advise the sheriff until two weeks after the fact. Three of the 500 were Sudanese, Russian and Iraqi nationals.
Babeu tried to drive home two major points: first, that the United States’ steadfast refusal to enforce its immigration laws is well known not only in Mexico and Central American but is recognized worldwide, and second, that breaking U.S. immigration law has no consequences.
What Babeu means by “no consequences” is that few aliens are deported. Yet, violating immigration laws often has affirmative consequences, not the punitive ones Babeu inferred.
Mexican national Liliana Sanchez de Saldivar, until a week ago living illegally in California, is an especially egregious example. de Saldivar was eventually rewarded, two decades after her first illegal entry, with a permanent residency green card which will allow her to apply for citizenship in three years.
de Saldivar successfully re-entered California after her original attempt failed. A second re-entry is a felony. After a decade hiding in sanctuary churches, and in a Catholic deacon’s home and after having her immigration status changed to “deferred,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service agreed to hear her case. Accused of making a false claim to citizenship during her first illegal attempt to cross the San Ysidro border, de Saldivar had been permanently blocked from legal residence and placed on an expedited removal list. But her immigration lawyer convinced federal authorities that de Saldivar never presented the false documentation that coyotes provided her, and that her voluntary return to Tijuana should take her off the permanently banned list.
Virginia Kice, an ICE representative, said that not deporting de Saldivar reflects the White House’s decision to concentrate its efforts and resources on aliens that pose a threat to national security, public safety or border security. But Babeu’s Pimal County experiences tell a different story; ICE released 500 convicted criminals back onto the street, a direct contradiction to Kice’s claim that the administration’s removals focus exclusively on dangerous felons.
And while de Saldivar may not be a national security threat, she worked at a convenience store, a job an American would do, and her advocates may have, while defending her, committed felonies. Aiding and abetting an illegal immigrant violates the Immigration and Nationality Act, and is subject to fines and imprisonment.
Upon hearing another immigration case that, like de Saldivar’s, dragged on for two decades, First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bruce Seyla opened proceedings with this simple, but accurate observation: “Immigration cases—like old soldiers-—never seem to die,” a variation on the old enforcement advocate’s chestnut, “it’s not over until the alien wins.”
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]