“The Good Illegal Immigrant,” Part IV—The Latest Installment In A Series Of Indeterminate Duration. Unfortunately.


[Earlier installments of “The Good Illegal Immigrant” are here, here and here.]

Not to creep into General Sheridan’s territory, but there is no such thing as a “good illegal immigrant.” The term is an oxymoron. In illegal immigrant in the United States is breaking the law every day, hour and minute he is here. Breaking the law is not good. Breaking the law every day is especially not good. Good people do not break the law every day.


Roberto Beristain is the owner of a popular restaurant in Granger, Indiana called Eddie’s Steak Shed. He came to the United States illegally from Mexico City  in 1998. Somehow he obtained documentation to work in the country, even a Social Security card, and checked in with ICE each year. In 2000. Roberto and his wife, Helen  were visiting Niagara Falls—such an American thing for a couple to do!— and accidentally crossed into Canada. When officials realized he was in the U.S. illegally as he tried to return, Roberto was detained. Released on bail,  he was told he had to voluntarily leave the U.S. within a month. Beristain says he did not leave because Helen was pregnant.

Ah. All should be forgiven then! This is known as “making up your own exception to the law.” Also not good.

When Roberto checked in with  ICE last month, that 2000 episode finally came up. ICE took Beristain into custody because when he failed to deport himself, his voluntary order reverted to a final order of removal. Why did it take more than a decade for Immigration to notice?

Don’t get me started.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose city is in the same county as Granger, wrote a touching and idiotic article for The Huffington Post, in which he called Roberto a “model resident.”

Note: an illegal immigrants by definition cannot be a model anything, except a model illegal immigrant, which is like being a model trespasser, model vandal or model shoplifter.

The mayor says , <sniff!>,

Meeting with his family and friends at his business, Eddie’s Steak Shed, in the town of Granger, I am struck by many things: the tenderness of his wife’s love for him, the innocence of his four American children (especially the teenage daughters who are now being taunted at school over his case), the loyalty of his 20 employees, and the pride and affection of his gathered friends and acquaintances as they rally to show their support.

Gag, barf! Any of which could also be said of a serial killer, a terrorist, or an assassin. We do not enforce laws according to how well a law-breaker is liked, how charming his family is, or the cuteness of his pets. Nor should we.  Mayor Mush continues,

But most striking of all is how many of the people now sticking up for Roberto are politically conservative. These are small-town Indiana residents, veterans and grandparents who come to his restaurant after Mass or Rotary. They vigorously defend him as a man they are proud to call a friend. And the more I think about it, the more clearly it is consistent with their conservative values that they stand up for Roberto.

Allowing individuals to defy the law without apprehension or consequences is not consistent with ethical values, much less conservative ones. Think some more, Mayor. Or do the best you can.

Good Wife Helen says she voted for President Donald Trump—that’s not going to win her any points here— because she supports his immigration policies. This places Helen and, if he is of a similar what we could laughingly call a mind, her husband, in a special Super Hypocrite class.

“[Trump] did say the good people would not be deported, the good people would be checked,” Helen says. I don’t pretend to keep track of every piece of random detritus that issues from the President’s mouth and tweeting fingers, but in any case, the President is covered.

 Because illegal Immigrants are by definition not “good.”


Pointer: Fred

Facts: Daily Caller, Indiana Public Media


30 thoughts on ““The Good Illegal Immigrant,” Part IV—The Latest Installment In A Series Of Indeterminate Duration. Unfortunately.

  1. Jack,

    You often lamented the notion of deporting illegals en masse as appearing jack-booted and nazi-esque.

    And I understand you fully accepting that this is just law enforcement.

    At what level of deportation though, do you flip the switch on these stories?

    • I have no problem with selective prosecution when a pool of lawbreakers is this size. Speeding is the obvious analogy. If you don’t enforce the law at all, everyone speeds with impunity. As it is, egregious speeding is a big risk, but there are no guarantees that you won’t be hauled over for going 30 in a 25 mph zone (as I was just about at my home a few years ago. I am still mocked by my neighbors as the only one of the regular slow speeders in the neighborhood to actually get a ticket.)

      The policy, whatever it is, should send clear messages that 1) illegals are not welcome and 2) any illegal immigrant is at risk of being deported, with those who break laws or are blatant about their status most at risk.

    • Addendum: This case tugged at Fred’s heartstrings when he raised it. He asked about some kind of statute of limitations principle. But the SOL only exists because after too much time, it’s hard to prove a crime, not because after enough time the crime is no longer a crime. With illegal immigration, you’re either a citizen, or you’re not. There’s nothing unfair about it.

      • For what it is worth, I believe there used to be a statute of limitations on immigration.

        Frankly, I think it could work again.

        But, you are not completely correct about statutes of repose. Issues of proof is one justification. Another is that you should not have to be looking over your shoulder forever. If I admit that I drove drunk on January 31, 1987, with time stamped and authenticated Betamax tapes, I can’t be prosecuted. It is not solely about proof.

        In addition, while he may deserve little sympathy, I have very little tolerance for a bureaucracy that has proven itself incapable of doing its job. If they can’t find a guy in 15 years, I don’t necessarily think he should be denied some sort of resident status. (Of course, if he commits a deportable, he becomes deportable all over again.)


        • 1. Yes, the restrictions on illegal immigration were very different before WWI. Like before women could vote and you could beat a suspect until he confessed. Children had no Constitutional rights, no income tax, etc. Different country, lots of bad ideas out there. Irrelevant today.
          2. Who says you shouldn’t? What sense does it make to say, “If you can stay on the lam long enough, then you own what you steal?
          3. I absolutely reject that “you make me a criminal by allowing me to break the law” argument. To wrongs don’t make a right, and one wrong doesn’t make another wrong suddenly justifiable. I’ll blame the authorities for the crimes they allow, but I’ll still blame the law-breakers as much as ever.

  2. Jack: “Somehow he obtained documentation to work in the country.”

    This is not that hard. He entered illegally. He married a United States citizen. She had the right to petition for him to enter into the country (because he entered illegally, he would have to leave and re-enter legally). It is not clear why that was not pursued. However, at the point he was put into removal proceedings, if he made a claim for relief from removal, he would get work authorization. Applying for a green card could do it.

    Also, it is not clear why he did not voluntarily depart. He could have done that as part of a petition to re-enter.

    Even now, he may have relief. Or, to put it more accurately, his wife and children may have relief to prevent his removal. Or, they might be able to petition to let him back in. There are bars that could prevent his re-entry, but some bars can be waived.

    His problem seems to be ignorance as much as anything else. Had he played his cards right, he would be a citizen by now.


    • Ignorance, and determined refusal to enforce the law on the part of people whose job it is to do so. I’m not sure which. I do know that people who seek to enter legally are subjected to a lengthy and expensive process, while those who come illegally can easily slip past the law. If we are simply “fair” never mind law abiding we should expect “good” illegal immigrants to observe the same standard.

  3. Thinking about this, I kind of liked Las Vegas when the Mafia was running the strip. Things were a lot more efficient and if you didn’t send your steak back because it was too rare, you’d be ok. Also, hand the guy at a showroom $50 and you’d get a great table in the front of the room.

  4. Gag, barf! Any of which could also be said of a serial killer, a terrorist, or an assassin. We do not enforce laws according to how well a law-breaker is liked, how charming his family is, or the cuteness of his pets.

    Murder is prima facie harmful. It is not clear that this man’s offense is; his being here only causes harm because it is illegal. In other words, his behavior isn’t illegal because it’s unethical, it’s unethical because it’s illegal.

    With this specific offense, it does make sense to me to judge whether to enforce the law based on the value he brings to his community. The entire justification for having immigration laws is to keep out people who will be a detriment to our country in some way. If this man is not a detriment, but a net contributor to his community, then enforcing the law in this case does nothing to actually fulfill the purpose of the law. In which case it is nothing but a waste of time and resources.

    It also means the law itself needs to be questioned.

    • So Chris. Nations shouldn’t exist and people should be able to live wherever they want to live as long as they’re nice. Migration is a human right. We’re all citizens of the world. We have no right to decide who gets to come in or stay in our country and we can live anywhere in the world we choose to.

    • This is a case where he has clearly been a contributor to the country and fulfilled the “American Dream” and my heart says to make an exception somehow. Reluctantly, I have to conclude that would not be a good decision.

      There are over ten million illegal immigrants right now. If just one-tenth of a percent of them are net contributors to the country that would be over ten thousand people. I suspect that actually the number who are basically good citizens other than being illegal immigrants is actually a lot higher than that, possibly even a majority of them. Given that, how are we going to decide where to draw the line on who we make exceptions for. Will there be a checklist of achievements one has to meet to qualify? Who will be deciding who is worthy? No matter what the criteria are, there will be cases that are so close that we will want to say, well he doesn’t technically make the grade but he almost does and look at the wife and kids. Saying it is OK for one to get by on their good deeds, or lack of bad deeds, means that in fairness all in that category would have to be exempted.

      Not enforcing a law equally against all who have broken that particular law sends the signal that it is really not an important law. It is a “wink-wink” law. Yeah, it is illegal but if you cover your tracks it’s OK to break it and if you get by long enough we’ll just ignore it. Heck, our judges will even help you break it. This will just encourage more scofflaws.

      What I feel is actually the most important reason to enforce it is that not enforcing it is a slap in the face to the millions who have immigrated legally. We then say to them, you went through all that bureaucracy and expense when if you had just waded the border we would have let you stay anyway. The joke’s on you.

    • Society passes laws after a determination that the conduct prohibited is harmful. A citizen, or a lot of them, may disagree, just like some cultures think husbands should be able to kill cheating wives. A law makes conduct per se harmful. And laws must apply to anyone who violate the law, or it isn’t a law.

      • Jack,
        You are completely ignoring the distinction between malum prohibitum and malum in se, which seems to be the gist of John Billingsley’s comment.

        • No, I’m not. We don’t make laws against things that are desirable, safe or harmless. Once a law is passed, that which is prohibited is a wrong by legal decree. Just because something is in Latin doesn’t make it profound. Laws should make illegal only what are correctly determined to be wrong. That which is wrong is wrong whether a law is passed to ban or punished it or not. Some wrongs are tougher to figure out than others.

          • I was because not being a lawyer I guess I hadn’t consciously thought in those terms. I do see where that applies to Chris’ first paragraph and sets up his second. I was responding to Chris’ comment in his second paragraph regarding his feeling that for this law it makes sense for him to judge whether to enforce it or not based on factors like the man’s worth to his community. I was trying to say that even if you think this is a special case where a law should be ignored because of how good the guy is, you are fooling yourself because it will cause other wrongs in addition to the wrong done by not enforcing the law.

            I actually read Jack’s comment at 9:01 as a response primarily to Chris’ first paragraph. To be clear, my position is that it is the law and should be enforced despite the fact that the guy is really nice, cooks great steaks, and might have a Jack Russell for all I know.

          • Oh, c’mon, Jack. For someone who trots out res ipsa loquitor every so often, should understand that Latin phrases often were used in the law to pin-point specific concepts.

            You should know the difference between malum prohibitum and malum in se. You might not agree with them, but you have an obligation to make your readers more sophisticated, not less so.

            And, even if you don’t agree with the distinction, you should at least convey that you know the difference between driving 40 miles per hour and intentional murder.


            • I don’t have to tell readers what they know already, or should. The murder deflection is just Rationalization #22. Sure, some crimes are worse than others. How do you get from that to “so some laws can be ignored?” The Malum/ Prohibitum distinction is based on morality. You may have noticed that Ethics Alarms regards morality as a dead end, and besides, in a secular society, law becomes morality. If the law says its wrong, it’s wrong per se.

              All of which is tangential to the issues at hand.

  5. If people would only use the same logic (if we can call it logic) that is used for illegal immigrants on other types of violation of law, no one would be in jail.

  6. It is not the responsibility of our lawmakers, or those that enforce the law, to bend the law to accommodate those that break the law; period! It is the responsibility of the people to not break the law.

    They are either here legally or they are here illegally, if they are here illegally they know they are breaking immigration laws; they need to fix their own illegal status and become responsible legal immigrants or they need to leave.

    The end.

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