Deportation Is Only Restitution, Not Punishment

By David North on August 12, 2010

It would be helpful if people realized that deportation is simply restitution, not punishment.

If you rob a bank, and the cops catch you before you spend the loot, the criminal justice system will do two things: it will restore the money to the bank (restitution) and toss you in jail (punishment). Restitution is simply restoring the status quo, making things like they were before the crime happened.

If you enter the country illegally, and the authorities catch you and send you back, that is not punishment, that’s just restitution, a restoration of the status quo. If they put you in jail as well, that’s punishment. In most cases, the U.S. government does little more than force a little restitution, and does not engage in any punishment at all.

These thoughts struck me after reading a warped piece of prose in the August 10 issue of Immigration Daily; it was in a blog by Greg Siskind, an immigration lawyer. He wrote:

The idea needs to be repeated over and over again. This is not about amnesty. This is about the appropriate punishment for the people who have broken our immigration laws. Exile – the antis' only offered solution – is the equivalent of chopping off your hands for shoplifting. Fines, English tests, paying back taxes, community service, etc. are all reasonable responses to the offense.

Purple prose indeed. Chopping off hands! "Exile," the act of being sent back to the land of your birth, being equated with amputation? My goodness.

Exile, incidentally, usually means being forced to leave the nation of your citizenship, and deportation means being forced to go back to the nation of your citizenship, two quite different concepts.

In the case of shoplifting, restitution is giving back the purloined goods. In the case of illegal immigration, restitution is putting the alien back where he or she came from.

The dialogue about illegal aliens, and their supposed "rights," has gotten so out of proportion that the simple concept of restitution has been lost.