The Good Illegal Immigrant

carlosThe New York Times placed on its front page this week a profile of an impeccable citizen of West Frankfort, Illinois:

Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco — just Carlos to the people of West Frankfort — has been the manager of La Fiesta, a Mexican restaurant in this city of 8,000, for a decade. Yes, he always greeted people warmly at the cheerfully decorated restaurant, known for its beef and chicken fajitas. And, yes, he knew their children by name. But people here tick off more things they know Carlos for.

How one night last fall, when the Fire Department was battling a two-alarm blaze, Mr. Hernandez suddenly appeared with meals for the firefighters. How he hosted a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at the restaurant last summer as police officers were facing criticism around the country. How he took part in just about every community committee or charity effort — the Rotary Club, cancer fund-raisers, cleanup days, even scholarships for the Redbirds, the high school sports teams, which are the pride of this city.

Now, in part due to a record of two drunk driving arrests, Hernandez  has been  arrested, and is facing deportation. He is, after all, an illegal immigrant, one who crossed into the United States from Mexico in the late 1990s and  never completed efforts to legalize his status. His friends and neighbors, the Times reported, are flooding officials with letters and calls for leniency and forbearance. The mayor of West Frankfort wrote that Hernandez was a “great asset” to the city who “doesn’t ask for anything in return.” The fire chief described him as “a man of great character.” Richard Glodich, the athletic director at Frankfort Community High School, wrote, “As a grandson of immigrants, I am all for immigration reform, but this time you have arrested a GOOD MAN that should be used as a role model for other immigrants.”

“I knew he was Mexican, but he’s been here so long, he’s just one of us,” The Times quotes a West Frankfort resident as citing what she says is a distinction between “people who come over and use the system and people who actually come and help.” “I think people need to do things the right way, follow the rules and obey the laws, and I firmly believe in that,” added the owner of a local beauty salon. “But in the case of Carlos, I think he may have done more for the people here than this place has ever given him. I think it’s absolutely terrible that he could be taken away.”

The Times wallows in this outpouring of logic-free emotion and sympathy, pausing only to quote as rebuttal some illegal immigration hardliners.  The paper had, if it was interested in informing its readers rather than inflaming their passions, an obligation to point out (or quote someone credible who does) the inconsistency and muddled ethics of Hernandez’s loyal defenders.

He “doesn’t ask for anything in return”? He’s asking to stay in a country he has no right to live in, after he has continuously defied its laws for two decades! That is definitively something, and indeed something unreasonable.

He’s “a man of great character”? That’s manifestly untrue. Res ipsa loquitur: people of great character don’t break laws, take what isn’t theirs to take, live a lie for twenty years,  and refuse to be accountable for their actions.

He “should be used as a role model for other immigrants”?  HE SHOULD BE USED AS A ROLE MODEL FOR OTHER IMMIGRANTS???? He’s an illegal immigrant! An illegal immigrant should be the role model for all immigrants? How does someone utter such nonsense without their brain being rejected by their head and being propelled out of his  nose?

Such ridiculous conclusions are the result of years, decades, in fact, of double-talk, conflated definitions, cynical rationalizations and outright lies by the advocates of open borders.What immigration policy do these statements assume? It can only be a policy where any illegal immigrant who successfully avoids the border patrol then enters a legally sanctioned competition, in which the consequences and penalties for their illegal and defiant act depends entirely on their conduct after it.  If they are especially productive, pleasant, industrious and virtuous, they are forgiven entirely: they are GOOD, they are role models, they have character, they therefore are immune from prosecution! That is a fair summary of the “policy” Hernandez’s neighbors are advocating.

It is a law enforcement policy that isn’t followed for any other crime, and for a good reason. It is insane. It encourages law-breaking. It allows illegal, socially destructive acts to be unilaterally erased by the individuals engaging in them. It treats the nation’s laws as a high stakes  game, where virtual citizenship is a grand prize that can be won by accumulating enough points. If a burglar breaks into your house, feeds the dog, cleans the bathrooms, paints the spare bathroom, and invests half of what he steals in your name in a nice hedge fund, he gets to stay. After all, it’s only fair.

Hernandez also has a family, and three young children. His looming deportation will undeniably be a terrible hardship on them. Having children and starting a family where he had no right to live was his choice however, and he, and he alone, is accountable for the consequences of that choice, just as any criminal is accountable when his imprisonment places a burden on his family.

It took me about 15 seconds to find a parallel story (there are many of them) about another law-breaker who tried this theory.

In 2013, Gary Alan Irving, a  convicted rapist who eluded police for 34 years after fleeing to Maine, was finally sent to prison.  His attorney argued that the sentence was cruel and unfair. He said Irving doesn’t even remember committing the crimes. He had lived for the past 34 years as a loving husband, father and law-abiding citizen, and that should have been a mitigating factor, said the lawyer, zealously representing his client. His wife of 32 years and his two children  knew nothing about his past. Irving had a  steady job, and was active in his children’s education, a participant in the PTA.  He even registered to vote under his assumed name, something apparently only rapists do, because we are told that there is no evidence at all that we have to worry about people like Pacheco doing the same.  I guess that’s because they are role models.

Irving was sentenced  to consecutive 18- to 20-year terms for two counts of rape, meaning he will serve as much as 40 years in prison, for him a likely life sentence. Nobody other than Irving’s lawyer was willing to argue that his crimes should be forgiven or mitigated because of his crime-free years afterwards. They didn’t even make the “he’s not the same man” argument, which I would guess is true, but it doesn’t matter to the law, and shouldn’t. His punishment was for what he did 36 years ago, just as Pacheco’s punishment will be for what he did 20 years ago.

No, of course Hernandez’s act wasn’t the equivalent of Irving’s horrible crimes. Neither will his punishment be equivalent. He’s not going to prison; he may just be going back to where he came from, before he decided to play the U.S. illegal immigration game, where you can win great prizes.  Besides, he did win! He won 20 years of a nice life that he had no right to spend in the United States, but finally, like every “Jeopardy!” champion, the ride was over.

Anyone who thinks his fate is unjust is thoroughly confused, and, of course, the New York Times and most of the news media is happy to encourage that confusion.

40 Comments

Filed under Character, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

40 responses to “The Good Illegal Immigrant

  1. Anonymous Coward

    I was very ready to jump in and begin defending him actually, till I reached this
    >Now, in part due to a record of two drunk driving arrests
    Nope, get him out.

    For the sake of discussion, say he had a more spotless record:

    I can see, in many ways, why someone coming across the border illegally could be justifiable (at least, to me, in an argument). eg. desperately trying to escape from drug cartel violence, or the corrupt police, or the economic ruin to a lesser extent if it in some way would be life threatening to him or his family.

    That being said, once someone is here, if after a few years if they have not managed to attain legal status for whatever reason, something is wrong.

    It is either a failure of the government for not providing them a road to legal status (ideally this road should be rougher than the one they would come through if they came legally, discouraging illegal immigration as a method of reaching legal status, but still feasible, giving illegals in this situation a way out other than going back into the frying pan they just escaped from), or a failure of the person for not taking the road.

    • Anonymous Coward

      I’m sure it’s been the spotlight of previous administrations, but immigration reform may become the spotlight of this one, in the same way that healthcare reform became Obamas signature.

      Here’s hoping they don’t botch it as bad as the ACA.

    • And, of course, he shouldn’t even have a drivers license. Another aspect of the muddled handling of illegal immigration that makes no sense, ethical, legal or practical, whatsoever.

    • Spartan

      I wonder what our population would be if we kicked out all the drunk drivers?

      I am torn on the drunk driving issue. On the one hand, I recognize it is an illness, on the other, it is hard to have sympathy for those who recklessly endanger the rest of us. I think I come down on the side that you lose your driver’s license for a lengthy period of time (maybe 5 years) if you are caught, and the second time, you lose it forever. But vehicular homicide due to alcohol should land you in prison for at least 10-15 years.

      • Spartan,
        I pretty much right with you on this one except for a couple of things.

        1. Not everyone who gets a drunk driving ticket is afflicted with the “illness”.

        2. Unfortunately it’s been proven that separating the drunk driver, but not limited to drunk drivers, from their license has not prevented some individuals from driving after their license has either been suspended or revoked, some even drive drunk again while suspended or revoked. Suspension and revocation is only as good as the integrity of the individual being punished.

        Although continued treatment is usually the best option for the ones afflicted with the illness; this is a really tough subject that requires tough love, tough enforcement actions, and tough penalties. All choices have consequences and when drunk drivers are endangering the lives and property of others really tough penalties must be handed down; and for the sake of everyone, get the illness afflicted individuals treatment while they are incarcerated.

      • 1. Safer?
        2. I don’t think DUIs are especially good reasons to to move someone up in the deportation line, especially ones this old.
        3. Nevertheless, he has no more right to demand to stay here than any other illegal. If his name came up in a deportation lottery, he would have no grounds for complaint.

  2. Other Bill

    What is wrong with the editors at places like the NYT? Are there any responsible adults there any more? Doesn’t anyone in any editorial office ever say, “Hey, wait a minute. Should we be publishing these peoples’ quotes? Do they make any sense?”

  3. Michael Ejercito

    The only plausible argument for letting him stay is equitable estoppel.

    there was a case in the Ninth circuit where equitable estoppel was used ton justify enjoining the Army from discharging an openly gay man who served for twenty years. See Watkins v. United States Army, 875 F.2d 699 (9th Cir. 1989)

    http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/875/699/179345/

    Applying the principles of Watkins to this case, I would support letting Garcia stay if he can show that he lived openly and the federal government nevertheless affirmatively treated him as a legal resident (the veracity of the latterwhich is not apparent in the article.)

  4. Break the law, pay the price. No statute of limitations means jeopardy until you die.

    While this is one ‘valued’ illegal, I can point to 10,000 that are not, just within 50 miles of my home. Those that game our system, take our welfare, and then send their money home, money they earned under the table.

    I see (every week, at least!) someone using ebt welfare cards for food I paid for, then pull cash out (usually a wad of 20s and 100s) to pay for alcohol, cigarettes, and such in the same transaction

    I see ‘suspected’ illegals every morning at the convenience store, paying cash (they are the worst for breaking hundreds for $5 in goods, vendors hate that, but that is how they are paid) for lunch and coffee. Many do not speak a word of English, based on the times they cannot communicate with store employees.

    I am forced at gun point to pay for their kids to go to college, while struggling to send my own.

    ENOUGH!

    • Chris

      slickwilly:

      While this is one ‘valued’ illegal, I can point to 10,000 that are not, just within 50 miles of my home.

      No, you can’t; I understand hyperbole, but you are pushing its limits here to make it look like the “bad” outweigh the “good,” which you can’t possibly know.

      I see (every week, at least!) someone using ebt welfare cards for food I paid for, then pull cash out (usually a wad of 20s and 100s) to pay for alcohol, cigarettes, and such in the same transaction

      I didn’t know there were people who still admitted monitoring the transactions of others without a hint of shame. What’s wrong with you? Why do you think it’s OK to be such an unbearable snob?

      My mother was on EBT. She also smoked. Why you think this is your business is beyond me.

      And what’s your solution? Make it illegal for people on EBT to buy cigarettes or alcohol with their own money?

      I see ‘suspected’ illegals every morning

      I have no idea what this could mean, other than that you are a racist. What evidence do you have to suspect they are illegal, other than your own racism?

      • Chris,

        (sigh)

        You live in a completely different area, with completely different life experiences. I try to make allowances for that, as I have learned that sometimes we do not have enough in common to effectively communicate.

        Nevertheless, you choose to impose your definitions, your ife experience, and your values as if they are the only RIGHT ones. Progressives everywhere have decided that their way is the only way to think, so I guess I don’t blame you. You have to survive where you live, after all. But your presumption is astounding at times.

        Here is your post, with my comments added:

        slickwilly:

        Slick: While this is one ‘valued’ illegal, I can point to 10,000 that are not, just within 50 miles of my home.

        Chris:No, you can’t; I understand hyperbole, but you are pushing its limits here to make it look like the “bad” outweigh the “good,” which you can’t possibly know.

        So now you can reach into my part of the country and examine everything going on? That is a neat trick! “Bad” is lawbreaker, by definition. THEY ARE ALL BAD. If they drive, they do so illegally, a crime EVERY TIME THEY DO SO. Driving without insurance is a crime. Using another’s SSN is a crime.

        But I am also taking this from the reports of illegals in wrecks locally, who usually flee the scene and then get caught later. Illegals that compound their crime by further crimes, such as assault, theft, and murder. We in rural Texas identify illegals and report the truth, unlike most media today. So yes, I know what I am talking about.

        Slick: I see (every week, at least!) someone using ebt welfare cards for food I paid for, then pull cash out (usually a wad of 20s and 100s) to pay for alcohol, cigarettes, and such in the same transaction

        Chris: I didn’t know there were people who still admitted monitoring the transactions of others without a hint of shame. What’s wrong with you? Why do you think it’s OK to be such an unbearable snob?

        So you got nothing? You stooped to an ad hominem attack after all. I am observant. I have life experience that involved working with illegals as a common laborer. I also see this being done by others, but THEY ARE CITIZENS. They are still wrong to do so, but we were discussing illegals.

        Chris: My mother was on EBT. She also smoked. Why you think this is your business is beyond me.

        So what? I assume she is a citizen, so not relevant to the discussion. You are using a common progressive trick: moving the goalposts, changing the discussion. However, since you went there, THEN SHAME ON HER. She is taking MY MONEY when she has money on her own to poison her body, and if/when she is sick because of it, I will have to pay again for her medical bills. Why is that okay? How much of my money do you think you have a right to?

        Chris: And what’s your solution? Make it illegal for people on EBT to buy cigarettes or alcohol with their own money?

        Damn skippy it should be illegal. If someone is on EBT, I presume they cannot pay their own medical bills either. So instead of working their way to solvency, they poison themselves and use my money to aid and abet the process. (Making me morally responsible, in a way, if I was donating to them. Since society has decided to take my money by force and give it to unproductive baby makers, I am somewhat absolved) Then I pay their medical bills to boot.

        Slick: I see ‘suspected’ illegals every morning

        Chris: I have no idea what this could mean, other than that you are a racist. What evidence do you have to suspect they are illegal, other than your own racism?

        There you go again. When you have to resort to accusation of racism, you are losing the argument. I have lived my entire life in mixed race communities, many times as the minority locally myself. People are people, if you allow them to be. My life experience, as well as that of my family, my community, and my state give me a pretty good idea of the characteristics of an illegal. Stating a fact, based on probabilities, is not racism. Or is it racist to state that the majority of shootings in Chicago are young black males? Facts supported by evidence are not racist, and it does everyone a disservice to maintain otherwise, as progressives have the past eight years. This is the politics of division, and the American public showed how they view that last November.

        But, to give you some hard facts to chew: Seeing large amounts of cash flashed in small transactions, seeing the same people buying money orders and wiring money to Mexico, a lack of understanding of English (and certain types of accent to broken English), certain modes of dress, standing around in a Home Depot parking lot, then hoping on a truck they obviously do not know (day laborer), avoidance of police in common public situations, and so on all are markers of an illegal. None of these absolutely is a smoking gun, but the probabilities say otherwise.

        For a tolerant progressive, you sure are quick to judge.

  5. dragin_dragon

    I think we live in the same city. I see the same things in my town. It is infuriating.

  6. Chris Marschner

    No one has pointed out that the illegal immigrant was the beneficiary of moral luck insofar as no one maimed or killed as a direct result of the DUI’s.

    Would those sending affirmations on his behalf feel the same way if he had killed a child as a result of his drinking and driving?

  7. Matthew B

    Here is a story tangentially related – and perhaps worthy of it’s own post as more facts become known in the case. In this case a court employee assisted a multiple DUI illegal evade ICE.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2017/02/judicial_official_let_illegal.html#incart_target2box_default_#incart_target2box_targeted_

  8. Wayne

    Well, two DUIs don’t exactly speak of him being an exemplary migrant. People that drive when intoxicated are putting his neighbors and their kids at risk of serious injury or being killed. I hope he prospers when he is deported to Mexico and sets up a decent restaurant there. Hopefully he will start going to AA meetings.

  9. Something that some people seem to forget in this illegal immigrant argument is the fact that illegal immigrants, or undocumented immigrants, or whatever you want to call them, didn’t just break the law one time when they entered the USA illegally, every one of these illegal immigrants are habitual law breakers, they are breaking the law every single day they remain in the USA illegally.

    Okay, discuss.

    • Wayne

      There is a distinction between improper entry which is a crime and improper presence which is not. However, overstaying a visa (for example) is subject to civil penalties which include deportation. Jack or a trustworthy
      Immigration lawyer would know much more about this.

    • Matthew B

      Illegal immigrants have to support themselves in one or more of the following three ways:

      1 – Work under a false social security number. This is a federal crime. One legal citizens don’t get a pass on when caught.

      2 – Work under the table. Essentially, work for a criminal enterprise.

      3 – File for benefits under a fake name. Good ‘ol welfare fraud.

  10. brian

    This line always rubs me the wrong way, ‘As a grandson of immigrants’, I suppose because of how Orwellian it is. My great grandparents were immigrants too, but they were legal immigrants as oppose to illegal immigrants. But with the journalist style guidelines banning the term ‘illegal immigrant’ that distinction is never made.

    Further on this point of the service this man provided, and how he deserves citizenship, my immigrant great grandfather’s citizenship was conditional on his service in WWI. Now, I appreciate what Mr. Hernandez has done for his community, but let’s also keep in mind that there was a time when immigrants had to put their lives on the line for that legal status. So yes, I am the great grandson of immigrants, and most people here are related to immigrants, but the false equivalence between between legal and illegal immigrants is bullshit. But I suspect that Mr. Trump is president in part because papers like the NYT, and it’s readers, don’t care for the political implications of that distinction, they are in the minority.

  11. He needs to go home, get in line, and wait his turn. How can we make exception after exception after exception? Where can it possibly end? No. The law has been on the books for years, it’s the same law it’s always been and we need to begin enforcing it asap. Mexico can deal with the ramifications of the returning illegals as they return home, where they belong. It’s the right thing to do. Great post. Glad someone’s saying these things.

    • Other Bill

      And by the way, Mexico is a perfectly fine country. Tons of people there are thriving. Just spent a week there last month.

      • Mexico. Perfectly fine country, where I, as a non citizen, are prohibited from working, health care, education, and am taxed well above the average. Mexico either jails or deports illegals caught there. The fringes of wealth are masking the poverty, crime and dejection of the middle.

        Why else do they come here?

        • Other Bill

          This may be employing the “it’s not the worst thing” rationalization, but for my money, India makes Mexico look like Sweden. And what to we get from India? Physicians, engineers and IT people galore. And business owners.

          • Michael Ejercito

            We get the “[p]hysicians, engineers and IT people” because we are far away.

            What kind of people do Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates get from India?

          • India makes Mexico look like Sweden

            So what?

            I have met some great individuals (doctors, nurses, engineers) that were Mexican nationals AND they became legal here either as citizens or proper channels for resident aliens.

            India does not send her poor into a nearby country (on the scale Mexico does) because those countries have BORDERS, which are ENFORCED, with serious PENALTIES for law breakers. Those penalties include deportation, imprisonment and could even be death (being shot at during capture can have that effect), in certain countries.

            These policies seem to solve the illegal immigrant problem, though, doesn’t it? For the other countries.

            Now of which excuses Mexico from gaming our relations and good will for the profit of their wealthy aristocracy.

    • Alex

      And I will add (again, and keep saying it) that the large number of Mexican illegal immigrants who were granted amnesty made my wait for a green card extend from the 2-3 years it takes to more than eight. Most of that time waiting for the allowed number of immigrants to match the numbers that were actually legalized by government dictat. This pretty much ended my wife’s career prematurely. So much for a victimless crime.

      We can debate if limiting immigration by country is a good or bad thing (I think it’s reasonable, or you end up with the failed culture recreated in local enclaves, exhibit A: San Diego). We can debate the process by which immigrant applications are reviewed (spoiler alert: mostly sucks). We can debate elegibility for immigrants to get government benefits (you get them once you’re permanent, not before that, and you still pay the same taxes – a mostly reasonable approach). We can debate the complexity of immigrant categories (and maybe stop playing loose with the non-immigrant H visas that are not really, and their friends; truly, the tax code is easier to understand than this bundle of laws and regulations). We can do all that, but please stop having dishonest debates and focus on the law, how to fix it, how to enforce it and then we’ll reasonably figure out what to do with the illegal immigrants already here (for the record I’m fine with a soft amnesty for people here before say 2005 who can prove they’ve paid taxes – even if under some other person’s name – and have no convictions, but no path to citizenship, you’ve given your kids US citizenship already, more than your law breaking deserves).

  12. I understand how heart wrenching the illegal immigrant issue is. But, I have friends and children of friends who married foreign citizens and the expensive and complicated process they had to undergo to bring their spouse into the United States legally. In some cases having to spend time apart for many months when it was not convenient or easy.

    If there is a legal path to citizenship that some follow and others don’t the sacrifices and expense of compliance becomes even more difficult and requires even more integrity.

    I’m not inclined to cut even good people a special path, because I know good people who did it right the hard way. It sucks, but it’s the only fair way to do it.

  13. Pennagain

    I am aware that in some cases, Juan Carlos could leave voluntarily and thus avoid an order of deportation on his record. If so, then would he be able to apply for citizenship from his original “home” ? Not that we know yet what the situation might be under the present administration (and would still be unethical since he had broken the law), but is this possible?

    • Wayne

      I bet you that he’s probably taking to some immigrants rights lawyers right now. We will certainly hear more about this “model immigrant” in the next several weeks.

  14. Chris

    Were it not for the DUIs I would be 100% in favor of him staying in the country. However, I can’t fault the government for deciding on deportation due to those.

    He’s “a man of great character”? That’s manifestly untrue. Res ipsa loquitur: people of great character don’t break laws, take what isn’t theirs to take, live a lie for twenty years, and refuse to be accountable for their actions.

    This seems harsh to me. People of great character can still commit unethical acts. It seems to me he’s done many great things for his community, and the people around him are making their judgment on that basis.

    The government has the right to make judgments about the legality of Pacheco’s actions, but I don’t think it’s wrong for the citizens around him to take into account the whole person when making their judgments about his character.

    He “should be used as a role model for other immigrants”? HE SHOULD BE USED AS A ROLE MODEL FOR OTHER IMMIGRANTS???? He’s an illegal immigrant! An illegal immigrant should be the role model for all immigrants? How does someone utter such nonsense without their brain being rejected by their head and being propelled out of his nose?

    Again, you’re using one legal violation to judge the whole person. In many other ways, it appears he is a role model.

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