Legal Immigration“It’s only a misdemeanor.  Why are we separating families over misdemeanors?”  “Ridiculous” is an excellent way to describe the media’s spinning and downplaying of the illegal nature of what’s going on here.  There IS a legal way to come to America.  Sneaking in with stolen identities and counterfeit papers is NOT the way.  As someone who read the United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations and The Federal Register daily and who drafted updates and changes to those books of Federal Law, I need to clarify some of the semantics being thrown around in the immigration discussion.

Title 8, Chapter 12 of the United States Code specifies the FIRST illegal entry into the Unites States is a misdemeanor ($10,000 fine and/or up to 6 months in jail).  The second illegal entry is a low-level felony (up to 2 years in prison) (most of those we’re seeing).  Subsequent illegal entries following multiple misdemeanors, felony convictions or being listed as a National Security Threat carry prison sentences of up to 10 years (also many of those we’re seeing cross our borders).  As someone who worked alongside INS, Customs, FBI and DEA agents, I can attest to the validity of assertions that some, possibly many, of the children being brought illegally into this country are NOT the children of those bringing them.  Global drug trafficking, human trafficking and organ harvesting are BIG businesses and serious law enforcement problems.  We don’t need to increase their presence here in America.

Our county jails and prisons are already full of parents separated from their children as the result of misdemeanors or repeat violations resulting in escalated penalties. Though African Americans and Hispanics made up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015. This didn’t apply solely to men in those populations. The imprisonment rate for African American women was twice that of white women. Numbers were similar for Hispanic women.  Those numbers are much higher today.   Nationwide, African American children represent 32% of children who are arrested, 42% of children who are detained, and 52% of children whose cases are judicially waived to criminal court.  In 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections (from the naacp,org criminal fact sheet).  Many of those convictions and incarcerations were the result of multiple misdemeanor offenses.  Those who can get released from incarceration frequently go on to commit more serious crimes because of their ex-convict stigma.

I walk the streets every day.  I see the effects of children who have truly been separated from their real parents “as the result of misdemeanors” (at least initially).  Make no mistake – Children’s Services provides a critical service to at-risk children.  However, it is also a big government business with a huge payroll, just like our prison system. Remember that $81 billion figure above? Double it.

Are we really worried about “children being separated from their parents” or do we just enjoy sharing our echoes of the media spin?  If we are sincerely troubled by the plight of children, we should get involved in our communities and save parentless and at-risk children from falling into the social hole their parents and the government have created.  We should lobby and work for legal reforms to find alternatives to misdemeanor incarcerations and work to restore stable family structures in the most at-risk areas of our communities. We should be examples and not just parrots.

© 2018 Curt Savage Media                                                         

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