Should a Pedophile Immigrant be Deported?


I know what many of you think: YES! But this post is not exclusively about pedophile immigrants; I put that in there to emphasize a tough question I was asked at an interview today. Here is the question:

Are you okay with our organization advocating the position that a Criminal Immigrant Defendant should be able to remain in the United States, regardless of the severity of the crime that was committed?

Before an answer is given, analysis is called for.(the U.S. government’s answer is an emphatic NO)

There are four basic statuses that a person can have in the United States: Undocumented, Legal Permanent Residence(aka Green Card), TPS (what the Haitians are receiving now), and Citizenship. I acknowledge that undocumented are generally subject to deportation regardless of any crime they commit. However, in the context of a potential immigration reform that involves legalizing the undocumented, the following becomes relevant.

There are two categories of undocumented: those that entered with authorization(i.e. tourists), but then went “out of status”, and those that came without authorization. Within the unauthorized  bunch, there is yet another subset: those that came here  as minors. Minors had no choice in coming to the United States without authorization and therefore should not be subject to any sort of deportation(even if they committed the crime as adults)

Outside of that subset, however, most immigrants, with a legal status or not, subject to deportation for criminal offenses made a clear choice to come to the United States. When one makes a choice, one must deal with the consequences. Citizens, if not naturalized, did not have a choice in the matter–they were born here and, significantly, have no other place to call home but  the United States. This is the crucial distinction that explains why an Immigrant is subject to permanent exile as punishment and a U.S. Citizen is not.

Two more steps need to be taken.

First, it is not clear that deportation of criminal immigrants, on the whole, is beneficial to the United States. Many criminals, once deported, come right back, or worse, many hone their criminal skills in their more chaotic homeland and then come back and are more dangerous than in the first place. In fact, the violent gangs of Central America, such as MS-13, were originally formed  in the United States and were able to grow and flourish because of the U.S. members’ deportation back to El Salvador(and other CA countries).

Second, it is difficult, if not impossible, to draw a non-arbitrary, fair, line in creating a “how bad” threshold of what a crime must be to trigger deportation. It seems most would not want an immigrant pedophile to be released into society if the danger posed by that pedophile could be more easily avoided with deportation. But, then, what about an immigrant with a couple of drug possession convictions? Is the “wrong” they committed bad enough to overcome the immigrants’ landed interests in the U.S.? In an ideal world, I believe deportation of  immigrants who commit dangerous crimes that threaten the life  and of others’ is an appropriate measure. Outside of the latter category, however, there should not be an absolute law that throws a wide blanket of deportation on an immigrant for any crime. Adjudication of criminal immigrants in deportation proceedings should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, using something like a “totality of circumstances” standard.

If that is done,  I.C.E(Immigration and Customs Enforcement) can focus on apprehending individuals who are a real, imminent threat instead of spending considerable resources on relatively innocuous individuals. Furthermore, with this method, I.C.E. can concurrently prevent a problem I mentioned earlier: the hardening of criminal deportees and their subsequent return to the U.S.


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