2018-04-05 / Letters

Are we safer after illegal immigrant was detained?

To the editor:

The story about the Lake Leelanau man detained after dropping off his children at Leland Public School (Enterprise, March 29) raises questions about why federal agents took this action. Was the father detained because he had committed a crime or represented some threat to our community? If he is here illegally, that is not a crime. According to Ingrid M. Delgado, of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Unlawful presence is not a crime. It is a civil violation.” In the 2012 Supreme Court case Arizona vs. United States, the majority opinion ruled, “as a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States.” Even the libertarian Cato Institute agrees: “Not everything that’s illegal — meaning against the law or violating the law — is a crime,” said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Institute. “There are civil violations, like when you get a parking ticket. ‘Unlawful presence’ is one of these. You don’t go to jail or receive any other criminal punishment for being in the country illegally — you get deported.”

So if our “we’re-just-doing-my-job” authorities had no evidence that the father of these students had committed a crime, why did they detain him? Don’t they have real criminals to chase?

True, if the father committed a parking level civil violation by living (and doing much-needed valuable work?) in our county, then the authorities have a right to deport him.

But what’s the price we pay as decent, compassionate human beings when state officials exercise such undue vigilance in our names? Are we safer now? Do we sleep better at night now that this civil violator has been removed from our community?

The “I’m just following orders” line has been used too often ... with horrific consequences.

Tom Fenton
S Bay Bluffs Road

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