Rosemary Jenks's Picture

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  by  Rosemary Jenks
As Director of Government Relations for NumbersUSA, I am used to outrageous statements from Members of Congress. But I was truly shocked recently when I witnessed a federal judge commend an illegal-alien felon in federal court. A few weeks ago, I was in Federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia supporting a government whistleblower. While we were waiting for the judge to call the whistleblower’s case, we listened to a case that perfectly illustrates the failure of the Federal government to take our immigration laws seriously... The case involved an illegal alien from El Salvador who was first deported from the United States in 2005. The alien then reentered the United States illegally (a felony that, by itself, carries a penalty of fines, up to two years' imprisonment and a five-year ban on reentry) and was eventually arrested on a theft charge. He pled guilty to the charge (another felony) and was charged with reentry after removal and, once again, put into removal proceedings. By the time his case came before the federal judge in Virginia, he had spent a total of just over four months in detention. The judge explained the charges against the illegal alien and asked if he understood that he could face a lengthy prison term if he pled guilty. He said he understood. Then the judge asked if he had anything he wanted to say. Since the illegal alien spoke no English, his attorney explained that he had only come here to earn money to send home to his wife and children in El Salvador and he was pleading guilty in the hopes of being released quickly from detention so he could go back to providing for his family. To my surprise, the judge sentenced the illegal-alien felon to the four months that he had already served. Then, the judge commended him for all he had done (by breaking U.S. laws-both immigration and criminal) to support his family back in El Salvador! Very little shocks me after spending 20 years in Washington, but I have to admit that I am shocked at a federal judge who thinks it is commendable to violate U.S. law when it serves one's own economic needs. I would not, however, be shocked to learn that this particular illegal alien is already back in Virginia, perhaps even working at his former job. For him, as for millions of others, it is absolutely worth risking illegal entry to the United States (or illegally overstaying a visa) because even if you commit a crime, the U.S. court system will let you off and sing your praises while they do it. I have no doubt that that federal judge taught him a lesson he will live (here) by for a long time!
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