The 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.