Wednesday, June 27, 2007

S. 1639 "Catch And Return"

That phrase is from the first page of S. 1639, good-ol'-boy speak for sending Mexicans caught without the right papers back to Mexico. The phrase reduces Mexicans to the status of wildlife, and not even mammals at that. There are a lot of oddities in this bill that deserve more attention than the bill will receive in the slap-dash rush to a vote, but here are a couple that caught my eye:

1) The first mention here of a requirement for detention facilities pursuant to the Catch and Return policy is that they must accommodate "up to 31,000 aliens per day on an annual basis."

But someone forgot the global search and replace function, because later the bill states that DHS must have "at least 20 detention facilities in the United States that have the capacity to detain a combined total of not less than 20,000 individuals at any time..." If the authors mean that at no single point in time can there be fewer than 20,000 spaces available for aliens AND that the average must be at least 31,000 spaces per day, then this is logically consistent but it makes little policy sense. It appears that there was some lack of agreement and both sides won, and lost.

Here are people who cannot keep track of a few words in a document, and they expect us to entrust them with the lives of 20,000, or was that 31,000, people who did nothing wrong other than have the bad luck of being born in an age when people think one's birthplace an interesting fact. (Now, if the government were detaining people according to their astrological sign, THAT would be interesting.)

2) Another oddity, not just of this law but present immigration penalties are the heavy sanctions against "sham marriages." (I use quotation marks because marriage is itself a sham.) If you break the marriage rule you can go to prison for 5 years now or 10 years if S. 1639 passes. But if you are the most egregious employer and do nothing else--no cable television, no golf, all you do is break this law by hiring dozens of undocumented workers, persistently flaunting U.S directives not to-- then the worse you face are fines and in the most extreme case up to six months in prison. The sham marriage restrictions are interesting for all sorts of reasons, including the inconsistency between the lack of penalties for sham marriages for other motives (my colleague Juliet Williams is writing about this, that there is no criminal penalty for marrying for an inheritance, for instance), but they also highlight the incongruity of the harsher sentences for fake marriages than for fake legal employment.

In any case, the tone of the "catch and release" heading says it all. Sadly, even recreational fishermen have a more ethical code of conduct than the supporters of S. 1639.
i found the fish here

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