Napolitano Correctly Characterizes Immigration Law; Right-Wingers Go Batty


Here's one of those tempests in a teapot stirred up by conservative bloggers and ultimately borne of simple ignorance.

The Right-wingers are frothing at the mouth over an aside made by Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano while discussing immigration enforcement in a recent interview with CNN. The offending statement:

What we have to do is target the real evil-doers in this business, the employers who consistently hire illegal labor, the human traffickers who are exploiting human misery.

And yes, when we find illegal workers, yes, appropriate action, some of which is criminal, most of that is civil, because crossing the border is not a crime per se. It is civil. But anyway, going after those as well.

Shocking, I know.

Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey plays that smug game of gotcha:

The penal code makes illegal immigration a crime, one which Napolitano’s department is supposed to investigate and prosecute.  One might think that a person put in charge of the Department of Homeland Security would have familiarized herself with this particular law after having been in the position for several months.

Rob at Say Anything adds:

If we let our political leaders ignore or write off parts of the law that they find politically inconvenient we set a precedent where by the political elite do just about anything they want

Aren't liberals stupid?

Actually, no. Both bloggers cite the U.S. criminal code and point out that entering the country illegally -- evading a border check-point, presenting false ID, that stuff -- is a federal misdemeanor. Which is true.

But Napolitano had said that "crossing the border is not a crime per se," and she's 100% correct. She simply understands that around half of the "illegal immigrants" in this country (the exact number varies by study) entered legally and stayed when their visas expired. Being here without papers is a civil violation, not a criminal offense.

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