Joe Biden is Absolutely Right About Deporting Criminals

At a Joe Biden campaign event in Southe Carolina last night, a few immigration hecklers showed up and chanted ‘Not one more deportation.’ These hecklers are at least the ideological heirs of immigrant “activist” who attacked President Obama as ‘deporter in chief’ for providing more legal process for those subject to removal.

Ironically, the activists who attacked Obama for his administration’s deportations fail to note that the Obama administration deported fewer than half the people that President Bush, Obama’s predecessor, had. More importantly, a key reason Obama’s deportations appear high is because President Obama created a policy of affording more legal process to those facing deportations.

Watch the beginning of the video closely and you will hear the questioner refer to 3 million people that were “deported” under the Obama administration. This number refers to removals with a court order. Removals with a court order rose under Obama because far more people had access to the legal system. The number returned without immigration court proceedings, or ‘voluntary retruns’, though, dropped precipitously under Obama, as under the Obama administration, voluntary returns applied only to those apprehended at the border or shortly thereafter. Data released from the Department of Homeland Security also shows that 80% of those removed from the United States through formal court orders under President Obama were due to criminal convictions.

It was perhaps what was on Biden’s mind when he shot back at the the first heckler, “You should vote for Trump”, reminding all of us what is really at stake.

Which was the point of contention between Biden and the hecklers. As the hecklers circled the stage, chanting “Not one more deportation,” Biden refused to relent, saying that as president, he will not stop deportations against the those convicted of a felony.

There is a fair amount of people who point out that illegal entry into the United States is a crime, and therefore Biden might be using reasoning that allow for the deportation of any undocumented immigrant. These people are wrong.

While illegal entry is a misdemeanor in the United States, it is not a felony. In addition to the common lack of understanding about the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony (with felonies being the most serious crimes), it is also not well-known that the types of crimes for which a non-citizen can be deported are a matter of law, and not every felony every time qualifies the convicted for removal.

Serious felonies like theft, intent to (or real) harm to persons or things, spousal abuse, and fraud meet the criteria for crimes for which a non-citizen can be deported. So do crimes known as ‘aggravated felonies’, such as murder, rape, human trafficking, child sexual abuse, child pornography, money laundering, and major tax evasion (more than $10,000). It should be noted that any non-citizen can be removed for conviction of these crimes, regardless of immigration status. Green card holders are just as susceptible to be deported as undocumented immigrants, if convicted on these charges.

The question, then, comes down to whether Joe Biden is right that if an immigrant - regardless of their documentation status - should be subject to deportation proceedings if convicted of crimes like child rape, murder, spousal abuse, and vandalism. I believe that the Vice President is 100% correct.

To demonstrate, let us for a moment assume the position of the activists who believe - like the hecklers - that no one should be deported, even serious criminals. What’s the corollary?

If a white supremacist terrorist crosses the border from Canada and blows up an LGBTQ youth center for gay and trans youth of color, should the Nazi be allowed to put down roots in Denver instead of being deported back to Canada at the end of a hopefully long prison sentence?

If an H1-B visa holder abuses his wife, who is new to this country, should we release this criminal into an American city? I have a feeling the abused spouse, also an immigrant, may feel more safe if their former husband is deported.

And if we follow the path to its logical conclusion, should these criminals also be eligible for naturalization?

I think that most reasonable people - including the vast majority of immigrants, documented or not - would agree that immigrants who commit serious felonies should lose their right to live in the United States, whether they arrived with documentation or not. I certainly believe that as a naturalized citizen.

Donald Trump has created an atmosphere that identifies immigrants as synonymous with criminals, and we must fight that. But we must also resist the urge to fall into the other extremist abyss and argue, just as absurdly, that no one ought to be prevented from entering the United States nor removed no matter what kind of offense they have committed.

I am proud of Joe Biden for standing his ground, standing for common sense, and refusing to pander.

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