The front-page headline in the April 3 Arizona Daily Star correctly announced, "Fed's deportation data deceptive." The byline identified the reporter as Brian Bennett of the Tribune Washington Bureau. Bennett did an adequate job of recapping the information contained in Jessica Vaughan's "Catch and Release" report published by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) last month, but he failed to give credit to CIS for their informative analysis. More disturbingly, Bennett propagated a lie that has become pervasive among reporters who strive to minimize the seriousness of immigration law violations and marginalize immigration law enforcement.
Near the end of his report, Bennett unequivocally asserted, "Entering the country without legal authorization is not a crime." That bit of information will certainly shock many thousands of aliens serving time in federal jails after being arrested, tried, and convicted for entering the United States without legal authorization. Border Patrol Agents who arrest hundreds of thousands of aliens attempting to enter the U.S. illegally each year will likewise be surprised.
8 USC § 1325 is the federal criminal statute that outlines the elements of illegal entry and establishes penalties for the crime. A first offense may be charged as a misdemeanor and the violator is subject to a fine and imprisonment for not more than six months. Subsequent violations may be charged as a felony with the violator exposed to a fine and imprisonment for not more than two years.
8 USC § 1326 is the federal criminal statute that outlines the penalties associated with illegal entry by aliens who have been previously deported and/or have a criminal history. Aliens who have been convicted of three or more misdemeanors involving drugs, crimes against a person, or both, or a felony (other than an aggravated felony), may be fined and imprisoned for not more than 10 years. An alien whose removal was subsequent to conviction for commission of an aggravated felony may be fined and imprisoned for not more than 20 years.
Depending upon an alien's criminal history, the crime of entering the United States without legal authorization can expose them to fines and imprisonment for six months, two years, 10 years, or 20 years. Serious time for serious crimes. President Obama's refusal to enforce laws that are not to his liking has no bearing on federal statutes enacted to identify and penalize criminal activity.