Imprison Them... Before They Deport Themselves

Reading Rob La Gatta’s Q&A with Houston Chronicle blogger Mary Flood made me skim her “criminal law” archives, and tada, I had just plain missed this nugget.

Now I’ve been thinking for a while about starting an archive tag called “Your Tax Dollars At Work”. (And, no, it won’t just be identical to every single War on Drugs post – although, it could be.) Just hadn’t gotten around to it, frankly.

But this story is the final straw. From the blog post titled “Stopping people leaving the US to detain & deport them”:

On the one hand -- it seems wasteful for our government to be pulling people off planes at Bush Intercontinental to pay to detain them, prosecute them and then to send them exactly where they were already going.

But the government says these folks have all been deported before and they need the felony conviction to take the law seriously, and hopefully not return here illegally again.

Houston-based federal public defenders say it's a colossal waste of time and taxpayers money to pay the nearly $70 a day for several months to hold these people, prosecute them for entering the U.S. illegally and pay to send them where they were already headed.

``What's silly about this is that they are on their way home. They have gotten the message that they shouldn't be here,'' said Houston's U.S. Federal Public Defender Marjorie Meyers. ``It's not cost-effective.''

But Houston's U.S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle notes the people they are prosecuting are repeat violators of U.S. immigration laws and that it's not only necessary but efficient to stop them and prosecute them.

``We had already expended some time, effort and money before to institute deportation,'' said DeGabrielle. He said to allow these people to come back into the country without proper permission and then just let them leave would minimize what the government is trying to accomplish. ``We feel it's definitely worth the resources to hold these people accountable,'' DeGabrielle said. [Emphasis Added]

OK. ‘Illegal reentry’ is a prosecutable federal offense - I get that. Like many offenses, the punishment range is arguably over criminalized, but it is a crime. A federal crime.

But, um, how do I put this? From the emboldened section in the snippet, the official position seems to be: We’ve already spent some of your hard earned tax dollars. Quick, let’s spend some more… before it’s too late and we never get the chance.

Ladies and Gentlemen… welcome to the newest section of Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer: “Your Tax Dollars At Work”. I’ll try to spend some time going back and retagging previous appropriate posts.

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Windypundit - March 25, 2008 11:02 AM

I think this is the sort of thing predicted by Scott Greenfield's theory that, with crime rates declining for the past decade, all these law enforcement folks are trying to find new ways to keep themselves busy.

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