February 23, 2017


Well, I've tried economics. I've tried compassion. How about governmental frugality?

The WSJ is unsurprisingly displeased with the step up in immigration enforcement and deportation. It turns out that we are really at our limits for handling deportations on the scale we currently have (Reason has had a field day publishing the numbers for President Obama' deportations).

Any increase will grow government and cost "a whole lot of simoleons."

[Homeland Security Secretary John] Kelly has also ordered a plan to "surge the deployment of immigration judges and asylum officers," and he's going to need them. The backlog of cases in the Justice Department's 58 immigration courts has already swelled to more than 540,000 from 325,000 in 2012. Some 250 immigration judges were assigned 200,000 cases in 2015. The average wait time for a case is 677 days and can hit five years at some locations.

More than 500 judges--who would each require an entourage of translators, paralegals and clerks--would need to be hired to eliminate the backlog within a year. Each full-time position costs about $200,000, so taxpayers could be billed more than a half billion dollars for this surge of government attorneys. Add all this to the cost of Mr. Trump's border wall, and the bill rises into the tens of billions.

While awaiting a hearing, many nonviolent immigrants are released on parole because detention centers are overburdened and expensive to operate. Housing an immigrant costs the feds $125 per day-- Holiday Inn could provide better service for less--so the 31,000 beds in detention centers are generally reserved for convicted criminals and immigrants caught near the border.

Now don't mishear me. The new improved jk supports increasing the size of government for some of its rightful roles. I'd actually support big increases in courts and judges -- but not to expedite removal of maids with speeding tickets.

Reliance on plea-bargaining and prosecutorial tactics of charging a big crime to get a small plea undermine the rule of law. Lack of court resources threaten our 6th and 7th Amendment protections. By all means, let's staff up courts. But let's staff up regular courts -- not create a huge Kafkaesque deportation regime.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at February 23, 2017 10:12 AM

Works for me. I haven't seen the celebrated case of the maid deported for speeding tickets, however. The one I saw was a maid (or whatever) deported for identity theft. It was still a sympathetic case though because what constituted "identity theft" was using someone else's SSN so that she could be given a paycheck - a government infringement of privacy that we wouldn't accept were we to be dropped in that pot of boiling water rather than the way it was crept up upon since the FDR administration.

Can we trade open borders for elimination of federal IDs? And payroll taxes? There we'd have something to talk about.

"We will not be bound by the failed policies of the past."

Posted by: johngalt at February 23, 2017 5:10 PM

But-but-but-but it is the enforcement regime required by / craved for by restrictionists that provides the infrastructure for this usurpation.

It ain't CATO and Reason pushing for a national database of workers' Social Security numbers so that every new hire can be checked for "leagility." That is the question I am asking. Do we want this Berliño muro fronterizo and the legal apparatus to support it?

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2017 11:37 AM

On the other hand, maybe the "stepped up" immigration enforcement and deportation (at a slower rate than Obama deported, I've read) is not that radical after all.

In any case, the memos make clear that DHS still intends to prioritize their deportation efforts on illegals who are 1) criminals, 2) drug traffickers or 3) national security risks. Anyone want to object to that?

If Democrats don't like the 1965 law — which their party wrote and passed — they should try to convince the public that it needs to be changed, rather than mindlessly attack the president who tries to enforce its provisions.

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2017 5:02 PM

What a sad reminder that we are no longer a nation of laws, but now a nation of men. President Trump is blameless for creating it, but he saw it and will exploit it more than even President "Pen and a phone."

Yes, I'll grant you that we are enforcing existing law -- by definition because none of his laws have passed in the first 30 days.

So, I am elected Governor of the great State of Colorado. I thank you all for your dedication, support, and hard work. My first directive is to have the State Patrol vigorously enforce the speed limits. Fifty-five is 55; 75 is even more so.

Of course, we don't have the staff to ticket every driver doing 1MPH over, so I will direct them to focus on kids with long hair, or cars with rainbow tape, or vehicles playing rap music.

I am only enforcing the law.

Thank you, God bless you and God bless the great state of Colorado.

Posted by: jk at February 25, 2017 10:38 AM

And if I am allotted one neener-neener pile-on:

prioritize their deportation efforts on illegals who are 1) criminals, 2) drug traffickers or 3) national security risks. Anyone want to object to that?

I will! It creates a "papers, please" mentality which contravenes the sprit of a free republic. Pass through the checkpoint, comrade. If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear...

On a more pragmatic side, it makes undocumented workers and even some who resemble their physical appearance more fearful of authority and law enforcement. I can't call the cops on the drug dealers on the corner, because they'll come over for a statement and see that Uncle Sven has swum the Atlantic and entered illegally. Best to keep quiet.

Posted by: jk at February 25, 2017 10:49 AM

Yes, we mourn together the sad state of legal tyranny here in the "land of the free" and the home of the not so brave, lately. Which is more likely to lead to a roll back of capricious laws, scrupulous enforcement or wanton disregard of them until, as Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged, the "right people" break them?

It's a fair cop to say that "criminals, drug traffickers and national security risks" are merely one man's version of the "right people." Better to enforce it equally on everyone, but it's a shift from the prevailing paradigm. It gives hope that Leviathan and Uncle Don might accidentally trip over a legal reform that reduces the power of the state. (Okay, I admit that felt Pollyanish as I typed it.)

Going back further, ours has never been truly the "nation of laws" we all desire and deserve. Women and blacks were treated differently at the founding and long after. We're still on the long and winding road toward a future of liberty and individual rights. But at least now we know what it should look like. That's a necessary prerequisite.

Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2017 1:19 PM | What do you think? [6]