I still get the ABA Journal but I’m starting to wonder if I should quit reading it.  It always seems to elevate my blood pressure.

I’ve blogged before about how Immigration and Customs Enforcement has ramped up deportations over the past couple of years, and how that has affected my wife’s family. Last year over 400,000 people were deported from the U.S.  Twenty-three percent of those deported have U.S.-citizen children and some (like the husband of my wife’s niece) were brought into the U.S. as children many years ago, grew up here and weren’t even aware that they were undocumented until their arrest.  The federal government spent $18 billion on immigration enforcement last year alone.

About 76,000 of those deported have drug (40,448) or DUI (36,166) convictions, subjecting them to deportation under the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act, which also restricts a judge’s ability to consider specific personal circumstances.

Consider the case of Alex Timofeev of Madison, Wisconsin.  Alex immigrated to the U.S. from Russia 21 years ago, with his family.  He was 14 at the time.  Over the next five years, while a teenager growing up in Madison, Alex was arrested for possession of marijuana three times, pleading no contest to each charge and satisfying the penalty assessed.

He grew up, married, fathered two children and became a chef.  Although he obtained a social security card, he never got a green card authorizing permanent residency.

Sixteen years after his last marijuana arrest, agents showed up at his home and arrested him. His long-pending permanent residency application was terminated and he was set for deportation as a result of his sixteen-year-old teenage marijuana possession convictions.

The first judge to hear his case (after he had been detained for 4 months) ruled that he could not be deported on the basis of the convictions because he hadn’t been advised before pleading no-contest that conviction could result in deportation.  The Department of Justice appealed and the appellate court returned the case to the trial judge for further proceedings.  As of now Mr. Timofeev is awaiting the decision that will either allow him to continue with his life in Wisconsin, or will deport him to the Russia he left as a 14 year old child.

This is the kind of nonsense that results from a “one-size-fits-all” policy, the enforcement of which is being driven, it seems, by a desire to satisfy the current public anti-immigrant sentiment.  Last year I ended up driving behind a truck that had large American flags flying from it and a license plate that read “DPORT EM.”  No doubt that guy will be pleased if Alex Timofeev is deported to Russia.

But is that really the kind of country we want to live in?

12 comments on “SMH

  1. DM says:

    It grieves my heart, Justice is one of the central core attributes of God himself (and what doe the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with him) Micah 6:8. Common sense has been lost in even more areas of our culture than I realized.


    • Bill says:

      Amen brother. Been meaning to let you know that we’re about 4 hours from Asheville, so pretty far out of your way. But if you’re up for extending the trip a bit just let us know. 🙂


  2. You’ve handled this subject with such clarity, grace and compassion. Thank you for being a voice of reason. The very same folks who love to tout this as a Christian nation seem to spend no time practicing its tenets.


    • Bill says:

      Thanks Teresa. To be fair, to the best of my knowledge every major religious group in the country, including the ultra-conservative Southern Baptists, have called for immigration reform that will give all undocumented aliens a path to citizenship. I find it hard to believe any of them would favor this surge in deportations, especially on such petty grounds. As for the folks in the pews, unfortunately that’s a different matter. 80% of America self-identifies as Christian, and this wouldn’t be an issue if they were united in opposition to this sort of thing.


  3. Jeff says:

    What is ironic beyond measure is that the immigration problem largely stems from NAFTA. Latin American farmers cannot compete with subsidized American industrial agriculture and have no choice but to come to this country to make a living.

    One of the other problems is that Americans believe in retributive justice – the “eye for an eye” justice of the Old Testament. The judge in Floyd County is a hanging judge – he just gave a prison sentence to a highly regarded teacher who had a marijuana business on the side. Not smart on the part of the teacher, but what does a prison sentence “teach”? Disrespect for the “justice” system, no doubt.

    As long as this country clings to a culture of me, me, me, ME, there will continue to be people who decorate their lives with slogans like you referred to.


    • Bill says:

      Yep. To facilitate globalization we’ve made it easy for capital to cross borders, while restricting labor’s ability to do so. This is great for multi-national corporations, but disastrous to farmers in countries like Mexico.


  4. I agree with the three above me – this kind of justice is not restorative, nor just. Moreover, it is such a waste of money. Reminds me of the scenes one sees in trailers for Farmageddon and the like, in which SWAT teams invade a home full of small children to arrest a farmer selling raw milk. That’s the problem with one size fits all policy’s; there’s no room to consider or allow exceptions on a case by case basis, lest precedent be set.


    • Bill says:

      Exactly. Well said. It really does leave me shaking my head. Last year our government deported over 13,000 unescorted minors. And how much money and effort has been spent to remove Alex Timofeev, who no one could possibly believe is a menace to society?


  5. Bob Braxton says:

    Deuteronomy 26:10-14 (The Message)
    The Message (MSG)
    5-10 A wandering Aramean was my father


  6. EllaDee says:

    I hate one-size-fits-all. It’s fine for the people that fit but for everyone else… We have crappy refugee policies in Australia too… trying to be right rather than fair and just. There is no right.

    All people are not the same, but they are equal. Regardless of race, creed, status or anything at all and should be accorded fairly the opportunity of equal and same rights. It’s not complicated, or arguable otherwise. We know better.

    The majority of us came from somewhere else.


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