Busting Immigrants


A few hundred Middle Eastern men and boys were arrested after showing up at INS offices in California to register themselves.

In the spirit of open government, the INS "refused Wednesday to say how many people the agency had detained, what the specific charges were or how many were still being held." (Presumably, those arrested checked "yes" in response to the question "Are you a member of Al Qaeda?")

In one case, a 16-year old was reportedly busted in front of his pregnant mother, who was told her kid would never be coming home. Here's more.

Since 9/11, anti-immigrant activists and pundits have been pushing hard to seal up the borders and crackdown on people living here illegally. And they're probably smiling today. But they need to explain how rounding up peaceful, hardworking immigrants protects us from terrorism.

NEXT: LA INS Dragnets Net Kick In the Bum

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  1. Look, there should be no going “soft” on people who overstay visas or whatnot. At some point we have to start enforcing the relevant laws that are ALREADY in place. The fact is, would-be terrorists can take advantage of our laxity and that has to be stopped. Now. It is no way unfair or overstepping any boundaries to enforce existing laws.

  2. We should loosen up the Visa requirements, it’s not like they’re doing much good.

  3. “Presumably, those arrested checked “yes” in response to the question “Are you a member of Al Qaeda?””

    Exactly. Anyone who thinks that we’re any safer today then we were before this happened is deluding themselves. Meanwhile hardworking immigrants are behind bars (many due to the INS’s ineptitude), and anti-Americanism continues to grow.

  4. The visa requirements would work fine if we bothered to enforce them! But nooooo, that would cause anti-Americanism to grow even more… Who cares? It seems that everybody who isn’t clamoring to get into America by any means legal or illegal already hates America. I honestly couldn’t care less about hardworking immigrants behind bars. They are our guests. If they had followed the rules, they wouldn’t be there. And until immigrants learn to stop killing innocent Americans, that’s just they way it’s going to be.

  5. It’s partly a cultural thing, I’m guessing.

    Most of these people are coming from countries where the rule of law is not so cut and dried. From places where everything is against the law except for what you can get away with.

    Which apparenlty was fine by the INS too. Sounds like they only wanted to enforce the law when they cared hard enough, or when they wanted to do some paperwork, or wanted to reach the quota for their next pay grade. Now suddenly the situation changes overnight for the bureaucrats, and the people who have been kinda-sorta playing by the law (the law as they understand it, that is) are the ones to pay the price.

    One analogy: what would happen if the cops suddenly decided to rigidly enforce the speed limit 55 on parts of the Jersey Turnpike? Mass hysteria, that’s what. People being pulled over for what they believed was honest behavior, highways backed up, a light din of law and order people saying that nobody should be complaining because dammit that’s the law.

    Except that, until it’s truly enforced, it’s not really the law.

  6. That’s exactly right, undertoad.

  7. hmmm…if I really didn’t want to get pulled over, I would just go 55 and let people pass me. I do it on US 1 here in Florida all the time. If I decide to take a risk and ignore the law, I realize I am subject to penalties…so if I overstayed my visa I guess I should realize that I am doing something that may incur a penalty. My understanding is that if you are not a citizen you have to have permission to be here or you are subject to arrest and deportation. I don’t think this is a new thing.

  8. I hate it when an obsolete law is being overturned and someone says “Why bother, it’s not being enforced anyway.” It really undermines the idea of the rule of law, if laws are only enforced when the cops feel like it.

    On another note, it would probably be a big boost to security if we gave an anmensty for illegal Mexican immigrants, since our INS people wouldn’t have to worry about them.

  9. Madog, if the USA gave amnesty for all current thieves, would that free up law enforcement resources to concentrate on other things? Only for the (very) short term — in the long term, it would have the function of telling prospective thieves that the risks involved in committing theft were lower. A surge theft would follow.

    Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants just tells the next crop of illegal immigrants that illegal immigration isn’t as risky as they thought — they don’t need to hide forever, they just need to hide until the next time the government caves in to pressure.

  10. The sad truth is, laws such as visa requirements and speed limits are passed all the time with little regard as to whether they can be enforced or not. I guess the threat of “possible” arrest is supposed to be good enough to force compliance. And I would not be at all surprised if your chances of getting arrested for speeding were much higher than for being in the country illegally. Speed traps and sobriety checks certainly help keep the public on their toes. Consider these new INS activities their very first “speed trap”, to help make up for the total lack of enforcement up to now.

    Now as for Mexican amnesty – well, yes, that is a convenient way to instantly turn millions of lawbreakers into law followers. Nice way to encourage people new to America that laws are made to be broken. And what a terrific slap in the face to millions of law-abiding immigrants who follow the rules!!

  11. If it weren’t for quasi-racist limits to mexican immigration, then there wouldn’t be any need for an amnesty.

    Comparing illegal immigrants to theives is misleading. How are they hurting anyone by exchanging their labor for money? It’s true that they’re often paid far less than native US workers, but to a great degree this is caused by the laws that turn them into fugitives. It would be better to compare illegal immigrants to pot smokers. Most of the ill effect caused by them is due to laws.

  12. “The vast majority of people who are coming forward to register are currently in legal immigration status,” said local INS spokeswoman Virginia Kice. “The people we have taken into custody … are people whose non-immigrant visas have expired.”

    What part of arresting people who “overstay their visas” are you uncomfortable with, Mike?

  13. “But they need to explain how rounding up peaceful, hardworking immigrants protects us from terrorism”

    “Immigrants”? No, criminals.


  14. It’s stupid arresting people for basicly not having the correct paperwork.

  15. I am going to have to agree with cracker barrel on this one. They are over-staying their visas, plain and simple. A visa is not a get out of your country and come live in ours forever card. What about all the people who immigrate properly, who take the time and trouble to face a mountain of bureaucracy to live and work here. They are the hardworking ones.

  16. Exactly, Scott. I have quite a few LEGAL immigrant friends here in NYC, and I know very well the hoops they have to jump through to remain here legally. All of them are very aware of their status, their visa expiration dates, and such. I have little sympathy for claims of “red tape” delays or whatever excuses they are using: tough times call for tough measures.

  17. Except citizen pot smokers typically pay their taxes to support all the services they use such as roads, trains, and schools that illegal immigrants get for free. Fair?

  18. Cracker Barrel: Those people came to the INS, on their own, to comply with the registration requirement. They’re in the country busting their asses for a better life for themselves and their families. I just don’t particularly feel any safer today with them in custody, do you?

    Where the government has intelligence on anybody with terrorist ties, they should obviously be pursued. But I don’t like the idea of an all-out war on undocumented immigrants in the name of fighting terrorism. The War on Terror has already been used to justify enough else:

  19. I have to admit, I am torn on this issue. I wholeheartedly agree with Mike on the aggressiveness of these incarcerations. The INS is asking for a “goodwill” effort by the immigrants to register and then arresting contributing members of our society. If they had terrorist links, then arrest away. But how about some reasonableness by those willing to come forward by giving them either an amnesty or temporary extension (6 months or whatever) to give them a chance to get in compliance with our immigration policies. If they fail to meet our requirements, they have that 6 months to arrange a future somewhere else. Something that is quite difficult from behind bars — a fate that only inspires the anti-Americanism so prevelant in too many foreign communities.

  20. You’ve got to be kidding. Registration wasn’t something that deserves goodwill, it was required by law. And these people aren’t complying with the law. We’re not talking, just to be clear, about immigrants who come from Mexico or Central America, but immigrants who come from states that sponsor terrorism or whose citizens are among those waging war against us. Is it too much to expect people to obey the law?

    You need to explain to us how you know all immigrants from these countries are “peaceful and hardworking.” I suppose you think that the immigrants who killed on 9/11 were peaceful and hardworking?

  21. If the police suddenly started enforcing the 55 mph speed limit on the NJ Turnpike, then in considerably less than a day, most people would be obeying the limit. What do people do when they start seeing a law enforced? They start obeying it!
    As is the case with so many of our laws, lack of enforcement puts a major burden on the law-abiding and gives scofflaws a major advantage. Laws should either be enforced or repealed. If enforcing a law causes major outrage, then there is a good chance it will be repealed. Our immigration laws should be enforced. Depending on the consequences, these laws may require modification. But the first step has to be enforcement.

  22. That’s because it’s an entirely valid and prudent course to take. Remember, we are trying to prevent another 9/11. If you were living as the guest of another country, would you expect the right to be left alone by the government, no questions asked, to do as you wish? I think not.

  23. If illegal immigrants weren’t forced to take jobs under the table by the law, then they’d be paying taxes too. Obviously there’s a demand for them that the native US labor market isn’t meeting. It would be better for everyone if they were allowed in legally, or given amnesty.

  24. Seems to me the smart, and therefore dangerous, sleepers in the country are the ones who had their documents in perfect order and were in and out in 5 minutes….

  25. “Documents in perfect order” means NOTHING if, for example, visas are granted to foreigners who should not have received them, as happened with several of the 9/11 terrorists. Yes, you’re not going to catch everybody, but it seems to me that right now we’re not even trying.

    >”Obviously there’s a demand for them [illegals]
    >that the native US labor market isn’t meeting”

    Tell that to the millions of Americans who are unemployed. I agree, illegals are “forced” (as you put it) to take crappy jobs that many Americans don’t want — but think about it. Do we really want to continue a two-tier economic system in the US, one for citizens and one for illegals? Part of the reason those jobs are so crappy is BECAUSE there are so many illegals willing to take them. Remove the illegals (i.e. start enforcing our borders), and those jobs suddenly have to conform to the real economy again, with better pay & working conditions. Right?

  26. So nobody here is questioning the validity of a registration law that only applies to people from certain countries. Why don’t we just make all Middle-Easterners wear armbands so that we can identify them from across the street? And carry identification papers around? Hey, why not make everyone carry identification papers around so we can check whether they’re complying with the armband law?

  27. I can see for and against all the cases here. I am a LEGAL immigrant but I’ve recently messed up with the law and while a US Citizen would get 30 days in jail I’m facing the same AND a lifetime ban from the United States. (In case you were wondering, it was not a violent offence, nor a drug related one)

  28. EMAIL: draime2000@yahoo.com
    URL: http://www.enlargement-for-penis.com
    DATE: 01/26/2004 03:42:47
    Even a philosopher gets upset with a toothache.

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