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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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A few years ago I got a call from the Glenn Beck radio show asking me some questions on immigration. I was happy to help the segment producer as I am with most people in the news media. But then the producer asked if I could find a client or two for them to interview for the piece. I would always insist on contacting the client first before giving out his or her name. However, in this case I was unfamiliar with the radio show's host and decided to first do some research before even agreeing to try and contact a client.

When I started to do the research I quickly realized that Glenn Beck had about 100 articles on immigration in his newsletters archived at his web site. And they were, without exception, unfavorable to immigrants. So it was obvious to me what the political bent was.

When Glenn Beck was given a prominent on air role at CNN's Headline News, I groaned knowing that another Lou Dobbs-type was being given a prominent role at CNN. So the fact that Beck is now pushing an anti-immigration agenda in his interviews should surprise no one.

That's why I guess Rudy Giuliani using the Glenn Beck program to remind the public that he actually has had a good pro-immigration record is a bit of a surprise. One of the key exchanges is where he reminds Beck the illegal immigration is NOT a crime. Beck's talk radio host background shows as he insists on his being correct on a misstatement even if he has no clue. Guiliani handles himself well as can be seen in this exchange.

GIULIANI: The context of that was for people to come forward
to report crimes because we needed their help and we didn't
want them to be afraid of coming forward. The context of
that was we wanted them to put their children in school not
to be afraid to do that. Even with the policy that I
pointed, I continued it was probably seven, eight years old,
there were still people, illegal immigrants, who would not
report crimes. But we wanted them to.


GLENN: Right. But isn't illegal immigration a crime in and
of itself?




GLENN: Aren't you saying --


GIULIANI: Glenn --


GLENN: You're protecting criminals by saying that being
treated as a criminal is unfair.


GIULIANI: Glenn, it's not a crime. I know that's very hard
for people to understand, but it's not a federal crime.


GLENN: It's a misdemeanor but if you've been nailed, it is a
crime. If you've been nailed, ship back and come back, it is
a crime.


GIULIANI: Glenn, being an illegal immigrant, the 400,000
were not prosecuted for crimes by the federal government,
nor could they be. I was U.S. attorney in the southern
district of New York. So believe me, I know this. In fact,
when you throw an immigrant out of the country, it's not a
criminal proceeding. It's a civil proceeding.


GLENN: Is it --


GIULIANI: One of the things that congress wanted to do a
year ago is to make it a crime, which indicates that it


GLENN: Should it be?


GIULIANI: Should it be? No, it shouldn't be because the
government wouldn't be able to prosecute it. We couldn't
prosecute 12 million people. We have only 2 million people
in jail right now for all the crimes that are committed in
the country, 2.5 million. If you were to make it a crime,
you would have to take the resources of the criminal justice
system and increase it by about 6. In other words, you'd
have to take all the 800,000 police, and who knows how many
police we would have to have.


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  1. Athan's Avatar
    thats a good piece. thankyou
  2. Jay's Avatar
    This one is awesome. I dont know why I'm so impressed with this analysis of Guliani...but I am.
  3. Another voice's Avatar
    Sounds like he found a good way not to run from his record. Hopefully somebody like Guiliani can bread some common sense to the republicans.
  4. Limbo's Avatar
    He's definitely showing some backbone and leadership on this issue.

  5. Ethan's Avatar
    Well, this story shows that common American folks have no idea what legal system is all about. They think: illegal = law breaking = criminal. All these are bad enough and yet they stick to people's mind like guerrilla glue. So, what can you do? I don't have a clue. Education is not going to work. College education, especially the non-elite state level colleges are turning into high schools, and common public high schools are turning into ... well you know. Critical thinking, intellectuality are turning into "dude" "doh" and "rock on baby!"

    In the end, all you can get from an educated mind on immigration policy is "who give a **** about some illegal mexicans, I just want to make a lot of money and hire someone to remodel my home for $8/hr."
  6. Rob Gard's Avatar
    You should make sure that Sam Udani gets this post to that Mr. David Utterback, the frequent and spelling challenged letter writer at ILW Daily.

    Rob Gard
  7. d's Avatar

    Go Arnold, go
  8. Anon's Avatar
    Ethan, you mean something like this?
  9. Ole's Avatar
    Yay! Go Ahnold! The time has come for the skilled immigrant's voice to be heard! Enough with the uneducated illegal border-hoppers!
  10. Another voice's Avatar
    check out the Governator acting like if he were an Immigrant who knew!!!
  11. hmm's Avatar
    Disclaimer: this is just to clarify my confusion and not to attack anyone (including illegal immigrants, who I think should be legalized).

    To me a crime is something for which you could in principle go to prison. For example, in my state ANY speeding ticket could send you to prison. Now I have thought that overstaying on a visitor visa or falling out of status is NOT a crime, while on the other hand, crossing the border illegally, failure to report a change of address, or register for selective service (if eligible by age and gender) are examples of crimes punishable by serious prison times. If so, then most of the so called illegal immigrants have committed a crime, technically speaking (just like those in my state who got caught with a speeding violation). A typical exception would be a lady from Columbia who came on a visitor visa, overstayed, and never moved since then; well, she would not be a criminal. Am I missing something here? What does the law say?

  12. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    hmm, you should just go out there and tell people that all illegals are criminals because they have failed to report a change of address - see what people think about "criminality" of such act.
  13. TLB's Avatar
    Believe it or don't, I actually promoted our host here:

    Now, of course, I wish I hadn't. It would be nice to learn all the possible conditions involved here. Aren't many illegal aliens criminals when they commit things like identity theft? Certainly, aren't fugitive aliens criminals, for instance?

    See also this interesting blast from Ruuuudy's past:

    Maybe someone else would like to tackle the question from a legal rather than an ideological standpoint.
  14. hmm's Avatar
    l&w: you are missing the point. These laws exist and are occasionally enforced (say when one wants to hold a suspected terrorist on immigration charges, and please do not tell me that this cannot happen to you--it can if only by mistake). So when a former US attorney says this is not a crime I am puzzled. Maybe next time I should not waste money sending the change of address form by certified mail?

    All this debate "are illegal immigrants criminals?" is completely ridiculous. Of course, most of them are, by the laws of this country. Now isn't this is a good reason to change some of the laws?
  15. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    TLB - There is actually a provision - Section 275 of the INA - that contains both criminal and civil penalties for entering without inspection. But DHS (and before that the Justice Department) has never used the criminal provision to go after an immigrant. They've always proceeded under the civil provisions. The House bill from last year would have REQUIRED unlawful entry to be prosecuted under criminal provisions.
  16. Ali's Avatar
    Mr. Giuliani ignores that fact that while 12-20 million illegal aliens are not criminals by his definition, more than 600,000 are, having been ordered deported and fleeing from a court order. These 600,000+ also include legal and illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes of moral turpitude. Then, there are the criminals such as gang bangers whom local police forces shield under sanctuary policies, and the criminals whose punishments prosecutors bargain down so that they will not be targeted for deportation. The failed amnesty bill would have provided legalization for all of these, including Elvira Arellano, convicted of fraud and sentenced to three years probation, which was suspended provided she accept deportation.
  17. Another voice's Avatar
    Ali there are bad apples in all ethnic groups by your calculations the 600,000 people you claim to be criminal means .05% of that group clearly not the majority. You are stereotyping people for a few bad apples most of these people come here to work and provide abetter life for their families like any other immigrants now and forever in this country. People that get caught and are out of status and get deported do not fall in the category of criminals. Illegal Immigrant does not equal criminal you have to be very narrow minded to think that.
  18. hmm's Avatar
    Another voice: you meant 5%, not .05% didn't you? In other words, one out of twenty. And you are correct that this is not a majority.
  19. Honza P's Avatar
    In re Rudy's "return" to reasonableness, I think it is more the reportage than what most of these folks are actually saying. When I watched some fo the GOP debates I couldn't believe what was reported.
    I obsess about Iraq qua Iraq and Iraq qua the Global War on Terror, and I too though General Petraeus had said he could nto say if Iraq improved US security. Technically, he did, but shortly therafter he expanded on the subject and said our involvment in Iraq did in fact iprove our security, but that he hadn't really thought about that first question until further questioning (it being above his pay grade and all) and so he initially said he "couldn't say".
    A similar phenomenon goes on with those supposedly championing "amnesty" versus those who "hate immigrants". Beck may not be the world's most flame-throwing example, but he and op-ed writers and the fine folks at groups like MoveOn.Org are intentionally picking apart current events like lawyers' briefs, out of contenxt and dishonestly at times, and I think it has affected news coverage. And let us face it, many reporters envy the opinionators. See, for example
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