AS we head for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), it is important to note, not every immigrant will be able to take advantage of the new law. First, of course, there is a time requirement to be in the United States. Those who are recent arrivals won’t qualify for the law.
Second, are criminal aliens. While most Americans are in agreement with one point, we don’t want criminals in our country, the proposed law is tougher than it needs to be.
Let’s say you were tagged with a drug possession charge 15 years ago. As part of a plea agreement the court required you to enter a diversion program and you did. Now, you are a pillar in the immigrant community advocating against drug and alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, no matter how great a citizen you will make, you don’t qualify under the proposed law.
You also don’t qualify for the law if you have a plea bargain in which the court allows you to withdraw a guilty plea and the court drops the charges if you go to treatment classes, perform community service, pay fines and stay out of trouble for a given number of years. The agreement known as a “deferred judgment” is popular with first time offenders and gives them a chance to clean their record and start over.
A deferred judgment is not considered deferred under immigration law. In fact, the original guilty plea which which criminal court considers withdrawn remains a permanent bar to the first offender migrating to the United States. Even though the criminal court considers the person not guilty and the matter closed, the first offender is considered guilty anyway. That is not fair.
One strike and your out makes for great sound bites. However, if we are looking for good citizens, giving the guy or gal a second chance when they have rehabilitated themselves and are helping others avoid the same mistake is pure folly! Judging a person as admitting guilt when the court in which he was originally charged says he is not guilty is unfair.
Another matter not resolved in the immigration reform legislation is the unfair manner in which misdemeanors are treated under immigration law. Two misdemeanors in any other court in the land are two misdemeanors. However, in immigration court, two misdemeanors of a certain type are considered one felony. One felony is a permanent bar to migrating to the United States of America.
The solutions to the problems are simple. For the convicted felon, let’s make a ten year rule plus proof of service to the community. A person who has truly reformed himself and is an asset to his community would qualify. A person who pleads to a deferred judgment and who after completing the requirements of the court has been judged not guilty should remain not guilty under immigration law. The person who commits two misdemeanor should likewise be treated the same in immigration court as he is treated in all other courts.
Our immigration system is broken due in part to the unfair way laws are applied to immigrants. Most people do not know about the unfair standards. Once the legislation is introduced into the Senate, we can begin rational discussion on how to make the law fair for everyone.
Immigration reform under the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) proposal helps many undocumented workers but not all. We don’t want criminal aliens in our country. One strike and your out for rehabilitated immigrants is unreasonable. We also don’t want to be unfair in the way we treat people in a court of law. let’s work towards meaningful discussion on these issues but let’s get the initial law in front of the senate first!