By Joe Guzzardi
March 29, 2012
If only America were as firm in its immigration enforcement as Vietnam, then perhaps the United States could get rid of violent criminal aliens.
Last week Vietnamese national Binh Thai Luc, accused of killing five San Francisco residents including a 60-year-old married couple, their two adult children and a young woman, became the latest in a long list criminal aliens the United States could not deport because the immigrant’s home country would not take him back.
Records show that in 2006 the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency contacted Luc, 35, while he was serving an eight year San Quentin prison sentence for robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. But since Vietnam refused to process his repatriation papers Luc, pursuant to a 2001 Supreme Court decision, was released. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that a deportee could not be detained pending deportation longer than six months. In 2005, the Court expanded its original ruling to include illegal aliens.
Consequently, an at large Luc brutally bludgeoned five people. Now the finger pointing has begun. San Francisco’s mayor, Ed Lee said Luc shouldn’t have been allowed back in the Bay Area after his prison release. But Lee shifted the responsibility to “immigration authorities” to identify where convicted felons should be sent. Luc’s case apparently has caused Lee to have a change of heart. Last year, Lee spoke out strongly in favor of maintaining San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy which offers illegal aliens’ safe haven.
The Vietnamese Embassy in Washington, D.C., issued a statement that it didn’t know why Vietnam refused Luc. Spokesman Hung Tran said that Hanoi law enforcement determines who is acceptable and added that “generally” Vietnam takes back any person who has completed his United States prison term. The American Civil Liberties Union claims that it’s illegal to further detain someone after he’s served his sentence. Julia Harumi Mass, an ACLU staff lawyer, said that trying to foresee who might commit crimes and locking them up in deportation proceedings in anticipation of uncommitted crimes “is unconstitutional.”
Arguments in defense of keeping hardened criminal aliens in the United States are indefensible. If Vietnam doesn’t want Luc back, that’s too bad. Luc could be escorted in a military plane and left at the airport for Vietnamese authorities. During the Eisenhower administration, when INS agents discovered Mexican illegal immigrants, it transported them to the Guatemalan border to be as far away from the United States as geographically possible but still within its own country.
The argument that future crimes cannot be predicted is nonsense. The justice system has developed reliable offender risk assessment tools which it uses daily to help identify ongoing threats to society.
Last year, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith introduced the Keep Our Communities Safe Act that would override the Supreme Court decision. The bill passed committee. Had it become law, at least eight lives would have been saved.
During the last two years about 8,000 immigrants with deportation orders have been released because their home countries refused to take them back. The Department of Justice stated that those immigrants include rapists, murderers and child molesters.
America’s immigration laws should protect, not endanger, its citizens. No non-citizen convicted criminal should be set free. Just because a criminal alien might not be deportable to his home country does not mean he should be released into the general population. Criminal immigrants should be detained until such a time as they can be deported either with or without the cooperation of his home country.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. His columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]