Napolitano Attacked for Stating Fact

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Newsmax attacked DHS Secretary Napolitano today because "she asserted that illegal immigration is really not a crime."

Well, according to Newsmax's own story, not quite. What she said was that "crossing the border is not a crime per se," in response to Sheriff Joe Arpaio saying he "wants illegal aliens to be prosecuted and jailed."

Let's distinguish between two different things: crossing the border illegally, and crossing the border legally, but remaining illegally.

Crossing the border illegally is a crime (a misdemeanor), and punishable by a fine and up to six months imprisonment.

But crossing the border legally and remaining in the country illegally is not a crime at all. It's a violation of our immigration laws and subjects you to deporation, but is not a crime. It's essentially a civil infraction, like a speeding ticket. The penalty is by many estimations more severe than a speeding ticket -- deportation -- but our law doesn't even really see that as a penalty, so much as just sending you where you are supposed to be (except in that if you are deported and you come back, it carries a more significant penalty).

So when Napolitano says that some "illegal aliens" have not committed any crimes, she's absolutely correct. It is a crime to lie about your social security number, a crime to cross the border illegally, and so on, but it is not a crime to be here illegally.

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