I previously posted on an item I received in the mail from a group calling themselves Judicial Watch.. That mailing wanted me to get interested in, and to support, their efforts to further investigate past deeds of former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Their appeal had a strange appearance, since all the matters presented in their letter have since been investigated thoroughly by some of this country’s best legal minds. I hesitate to characterize their appeal as an emotional tug at my bank account, with the aim at fattening their coffers for other projects or possibly to underwrite the salaries of people on their payroll. So, I let it drop.
The subject of the most recent appeal relates to somebody’s infatuation with immigration enforcement. There are any number of federal crimes that do damage to our society, among them being espionage, money laundering, tax evasion, mail fraud, kidnapping, and bank robbery. Violation of immigration law is also a federal crime, but while the previously mentioned are felonies, entering the country illegally is a misdemeanor for the first offense. You see what I’m getting at. It’s time we made a big deal of immigration crime.
And that appears to be the thrust of this most recent Judicial Watch letter:
To: John Blanton
You are being contacted because state of Texas has been identified as a possible “sanctuary state” containing townships, cities, counties and/or regions unlawfully aiding, abetting and/or shielding illegal immigrants from federal immigration law.
The letter advocates for the involvement of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and here is a part that escapes my comprehension.
Your signature is needed because “open borders” advocates and politicians in these “sanctuary states” are using or preparing to use taxpayer-paid legal defense funds, legal action and the courts to hinder federal efforts to curtail the unlawful protection of illegal aliens in the U.S.
I need to show my support by signing and delivering an enclosed petition. Else Attorney General Paxton will not be inspired to enforce the law? And what law? Does Texas, or any state, have laws regarding illegal immigration? Somewhere in the Constitution there must be wording to the effect the federal government solely is charged with international affairs. The letter gets to the meat of the matter.
To counter these unlawful efforts to flaunt and/or evade immigration laws, the conservative public interest 501 (cX3) organization Judicial Watch is conducting a state-by-state program to investigate, expose and, where warranted, challenge in court unlawful sanctuary policies.
Your signed authorization via the enclosed AFFIRMATION OF PUBLIC SUPPORT will help Judicial Watch establish a necessary record of “in-state” public support for investigations into and judicial actions against violations of federal immigration policy and laws because they are of benefit to, and in the public interest of, the lawful citizens of said state.
Passing over the slight English language failure in the above, it is apparent that Judicial Watch wants me to throw my weight behind their endeavor. A complete reading hints they also want me to throw my money into the fray, as well.
Then begins an elaboration of the problem to be addressed:
The facts regarding the widespread efforts to aid, abet and shield illegal immigrants from the law are not in dispute. This is a purely ideological disagreement between those of us who believe we should have borders and border controls, and those who believe there should be no borders and no controls. As many as 400 regions, townships, counties and cities in every region of our country, including the vast majority of major American cities, have taken unlawful steps to offer illegal aliens some form of sanctuary; help them obstruct federal immigration law and policy; and even use tax dollars to encourage and offer legal aid to illegal immigrants, e.g.:
Followed by a summation of examples. A subsequent section of the letter reinforces the need to take action.
The consequences of illegal immigration are equally beyond dispute. Despite claims that comprehensive statistics on illegal immigrant crime are “not available” from the federal government, the disproportionate number of illegal aliens involved in drug trafficking, violent crime and gang activity is well documented in state and local jurisdictions in every region of the country:
This is followed by
a) Illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of murder as members of the general population;
b) Illegal immigrants accounted for nearly 75% of federal drug sentences in 2014 according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission;
c) In Florida, 40% of all murder convictions were criminal aliens;
d) In Los Angeles, 95% of outstanding warrants for homicide were for illegal aliens;
e) ICE reported that illegal criminal aliens released by Homeland Security during the Obama Administration accounted for 64,000 crimes, including assault, kidnapping and homicide; and
f) At various times, 25,000 illegal immigrants were serving murder sentences nationwide.
Reconciling these statements with some known facts presents difficulties. Here is something from another source:
There is no empirical evidence that immigration, including illegal immigration, increases the crime rate in the United States. According to PolitiFact, “every expert we polled said there is a consensus among scholars that undocumented immigrants are not more likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.” Most studies have shown that illegal immigrants tend to commit less crime than natives. For immigration in general, a majority of studies in the U.S. have found lower crime rates among immigrants than among non-immigrants, and that higher concentrations of immigrants are associated with lower crime rates. Some research even suggests that increases in immigration may partly explain the reduction in the U.S. crime rate.
A 2018 study found that undocumented immigration to the United States did not increase violent crime. A 2017 study found that “Increased undocumented immigration was significantly associated with reductions in drug arrests, drug overdose deaths, and DUI arrests, net of other factors.” A 2016 study finds no link between illegal immigrant populations and violent crime, although there is a small but significant association between illegal immigrants and drug-related crime. A 2017 study found that “Increased undocumented immigration was significantly associated with reductions in drug arrests, drug overdose deaths, and DUI arrests, net of other factors.” A 2017 study found that California’s extension of driving licenses to unauthorized immigrants “did not increase the total number of accidents or the occurrence of fatal accidents, but it did reduce the likelihood of hit and run accidents, thereby improving traffic safety and reducing costs for California drivers… providing unauthorized immigrants with access to driver’s licenses can create positive externalities for the communities in which they live.” A 2018 study in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy found that by restricting the employment opportunities for unauthorized immigrants, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) likely caused an increase in crime.
According to a 1997 report by the National Research Council, The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration, “it is difficult to draw any strong conclusions on the association between immigration and crime”.
However, the item from Wikipedia has this additional part:
The Arizona Department of Corrections reported in 2010 that illegal immigrants are over-represented in the state’s prison population. In June 2010, illegal immigrants represented 14.8 percent of Arizona state prisoners, but accounted for 7 percent of the state’s overall population according to the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, the data showed that illegal immigrants accounted for 40% of all the prisoners serving time in Arizona state prisons for kidnapping; 24% of those serving time for drug charges; and 13 percent of those serving time for murder. Criminologist professor James Alan Fox assets that this is to be expected as illegal immigrants who tend to be poor “will have a higher rate of individuals in prison” as there is a correlation between social class and criminality, a correlation between social class and the probability to being sent to prison for the same crime as compared to people in a higher social class, and inadequate legal representation for the poor.
The cause for the apparent dichotomy between the Judicial Watch statements and the above is hinted at by examining how JW crafts its words. Take their item a) above: “Illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of murder as members of the general population.” I have highlighted the word “convicted.” JW is not saying illegal immigrants are more likely to commit crimes. They are saying they are more likely to be convicted of their crimes.
Putting aside all that, I am going to interpret the letter from Judicial Watch as an appeal to my supposed alignment with the anti-immigration sentiment that pervades our politically conservative culture. And the irony is palpable.
Conservative causes and candidates receive massive support from American business owners, who tend to be conservative due to their opposition to overbearing government regulation. The irony is that illegal immigration feeds the profit line of many of these concerns. From the same Wikipedia entry:
Wal-Mart: In 2005, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million to settle a federal investigation that found hundreds of illegal immigrants were hired by Wal-Mart’s cleaning contractors.
Swift & Co.: In December 2006, in the largest such crackdown in American history, U.S. federal immigration authorities raided Swift & Co. meat-processing plants in six U.S. states, arresting about 1,300 illegal immigrant employees.
Tyson Foods: This company was accused of actively importing illegal labor for its chicken packing plants; at trial, however, the jury acquitted the company after evidence was presented that Tyson went beyond mandated government requirements in demanding documentation for its employees.
Gebbers Farms: In December 2009, U.S. immigration authorities forced this Brewster, Washington, farm known for its fruit orchards to fire more than 500 illegal workers, mostly immigrants from Mexico. Some were working with false social security cards and other false identification.
The hard fact is that illegal workers do not enjoy the protection of labor laws to the extent citizens and legal workers do. The threat of exposure, arrest, and deportation prevents their complaining when employers short their wages or require them to work in unsafe environments. Employers use these circumstances to drive down wages and thereby increase profits. And the business owners vote Republican. Whether they underwrite Judicial Watch in this campaign is unknown to me.
Full disclosure: I support the government’s immigration laws. The federal government has the right to control immigration, limit the number of people allowed to enter the country on a permanent basis each year, and to set requirements for aliens who want to work here. That said, I agree that immigration is beneficial to the American economy and to the strength of our nation. We really should accept more immigrants from our nearest neighbors, including Mexico. Conservatives have exhibited a distaste for immigration from Arabic and Muslim countries, the excuse being that some of these people might be terrorists. I chuckle.
Stories I see posted on conservative sites and in mail I receive from conservative advocates zero in on illegal, sometimes heinous, acts committed by immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants. Particular note is made of incidents that involve Muslims. These conservative sources are the same ones that advocate a proliferation of deadly weapons in society, which on a daily basis accounts for more horror than a year’s worth of contribution from Muslims and from immigrants.
All this prompts an appraisal of Judicial Watch, its legitimacy, and its competence. While JW has had notable successes, its history is also marked by a number of excesses. Examples:
On August 31, 2018, Judicial Watch reported on its blog that the Justice Department “admitted” in a court filing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held no hearings regarding the surveillance application for former Trump adviser Carter Page. In their blog post, Judicial Watch linked to the court filing, which was in response to a FOIA lawsuit, but nowhere in the post was it mentioned that the court filing stated, “Specifically, FOIA staff consulted with knowledgeable subject matter experts in the Office of Intelligence. Those experts confirmed that, as is typical in proceedings before the FISC, no hearings were held with respect to the acknowledged Carter Page FISA applications, and thus no responsive transcripts exist.” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton appeared on Fox News that night and stated that the Justice Department said there were no hearings for the Page application, but did not mention that the DOJ said this was “typical in proceedings before the FISC.” The Judicial Watch story was reported as scandalous by conservative websites, such as Gateway Pundit. The following day, Trump tweeted about the story.
Judicial Watch helped stir the conspiracy theory that Vince Foster was murdered by the Clintons.
In 2010, Judicial Watch made inaccurate claims about air travel spending by Nancy Pelosi’s congressional delegation; Judicial Watch’s claims were picked up by the conservative conspiracy site WorldNetDaily. Judicial Watch also made false claims about Pelosi’s air travel in 2008 as well.
In total, Judicial Watch gives the appearance, intentional or not, of being a nutty right-wing advocacy group, living off the prejudices and fears of a like-minded segment of our society. And I enjoy receiving their mail.