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Carl Shusterman's Immigration Update

They Shoot Speeders, Don't They?

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The Highway Patrol officer pulls over a speeder on the freeway. It's a young woman in a Red Camaro. "Do you know how fast you were going?", he questions her. "I don't know, officer", she stammers. "I'm late for a job interview, and I wasn't paying a lot of attention. I'm really sorry."

"Not as sorry as I am" replies the officer, who takes out his pistol, and shoots each of her tires. "If I ever catch you speeding again, I'l shoot you!" Then he arrests her and takes her to jail.

Did this really happen?

Of course not! In our criminal justice system, the punishment is supposed to be proportional to the offense committed. Speeding drivers are fined, not jailed or shot. If they were, the story would be featured in the national news and the officer would probably be prosecuted.

Yet, in the bizarre world of immigration law, people are routinely separated from their U.S. citizen spouses, parents and children for minor offenses, and their stories are seldom, if ever, reported.

Consider a middle-aged woman who I spoke with earlier this week. She has long been married to a green card holder who recently became a U.S. citizen. They have three children together, all of whom are U.S. citizens. She and her husband both work hard at menial jobs. They pay their taxes and have never been on welfare. They have never committed a crime, and do not have so much as a speeding ticket. Yet, her application for a green card was recently denied, and she faces deportation. Why? Back in the spring of 1997, she left the U.S. for a few days to see her father, a diabetic, who was seriously ill. In order to return to the U.S., she used a friend's green card, and was turned away at the border. The government called this an "expedited removal". At the time, this was a newly-created procedure where the government could deport a person without giving them the opportunity to have an attorney or even a hearing before an Immigration Judge.

A few days later, she crossed the border illegally in order to rejoin her husband and children in the U.S. Because of a law passed in 1996, returning to the U.S. illegally after an expedited removal bars a person from becoming a lawful permanent resident until he/she has lived abroad for a minimum of 10 years. And even then, they must be granted a difficult-to-obtain waiver from the Immigration Service. This is known as the "permanent bar" because such persons may never be able to reunite with their families in the U.S.

Do people subject to the permanent bar really return to their countries for ten years, leaving their spouses and children in the U.S.? The government has collected no data on this. I tend to doubt that they do. I believe they simply remain in the U.S. illegally. But to the extent that I'm wrong, the end result of the permanent bar is the separation of families. No wife for her citizen husband. No mother for her citizen children.

So, Shusterman, that bleeding heart, doesn't think people who violate the immigration laws should be punished?

Pleeeze! Having spent six years (1976-82) as an attorney for the INS including many months working inside of Federal Prisons, I have obtained deportation orders against hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals, many of them convicted felons.

The reason that I am against the permanent bar is because the punishment doesn't fit the "crime". For the same reason that Highway Patrol Officers don't shoot speeders, or even arrest them, separating a woman from her family for ten years to life for illegally crossing the border after an expedited removal is simply insane!

Can I suggest a better punishment? Matter of fact, I can.

Impose hefty fines on such persons. The Immigration Service is literally begging the Federal Government for money. And as all of us taxpayers know, the Federal Government is broke. Fining immigration violators rather than separating them from their families makes a lot of sense, and would provide millions of dollars to help the Immigration Service do its job without asking for a taxpayer bailout.

What do you think?

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Updated 12-02-2013 at 04:40 PM by CShusterman


  1. ss's Avatar
    I think you are exactly correct in your assessment of the punishment being disproportionate to the "crime" in all instances of bars in excess of 3 years. It has been a long standing principal of our democracy that 'the punishment fit the crime". Bars of this nature do as you suggest undermine the rule of law by creating a situation where the family is forced to attempt illegal entry for family reunification.

    Sadly those harmed the most are innocent children and say what you will regarding whose at "fault" but the reality is you cannot "un-ring" the bell and the present system is costly, contentious and provides no benefit to our society.

    In the case of non-permanent bars the time, money and cost of litigation in waiver cases of a non-criminal nature that goes down the drain where in the end the immigrant will eventually receive a benefit at the end of the "punishment" could be better spent as you suggested on improving the current infrastructure of USCIS.

    Far right opponents will argue against this as amnesty and far left will decry the fine based system is too harsh. I think a reasonable fine would be $100 per month of overstay, $1000 per year and $1500 application fee.

    You made no mention of the economic benefit to the United States in keeping these families in the US to spend their money vs split house hold spending in two countries.
  2. KARAN KLER's Avatar
    I could not resist to respond. I have been sitting on my soap box and shouting, The Government contends there are 11 Million undocumented and upto 13 Million (maybe..if they are undocumented who knows the exact figure could be 18 Million.

    So lets say 10 Million to be conservative (and keep the math simple)and lets say about 1 million repeat offenders (people who are subject to variuos 212 bars for Expedited Removals, etc.) All of these are non criminals and tax payers.

    Lets get these people of good moral character to apy $3,000 for the 10 Million to rectify the wrongs of overstaying or entreing without permission. That gives the government 30 Billion Dollars.

    Now the 1 Million could be imposed higher penalties of lets say $6000. That would be 6 Billion.

    So CIR would basically give the government a minimum of $36 Billion dollars in just fines and penalties. Not to mention the $1010 for the Current Adjustment Fees for administrative processing. That figuer itself adds another twelve billion one hundred eleven million.

    A wopping total of 48 Billion, 1 Hundred and Eleven Million.

    Thank You
    Karan Kler
    BIA Accredited Representative.
    Palm Springs, CA.
  3. julie ortega's Avatar
    i would love for something like this to be approved my hubby has a expedited removal he is a good man hard worker we have 3 kid's. Oh man please tell me if i need to fill out a pettion i will be more than glad to thank you

    julie ortega
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