Lock ’em up, then kick ’em out

On immigration, Andrew McCarthy writes:
On one end, everyone knows that it is neither possible nor desirable to deport the entire illegal immigrant population (estimated at 11 million-plus); on the other, there is strong consensus that serious criminals and those in defiance of deportation orders should be deported forthwith, but we know this is just a minority subset of that population.
I’ll leave the first part of this alone, except to note that, while it may be impossible to deport all illegal immigrants, it’s not clear to me why it would be undesirable.
It’s the second part, the strong consensus that serious criminals should be deported forthwith, that I want to chew on, as I’ve never understood the thinking on this.
Let’s say we catch a rapist, a child molester, or a murderer and determine that he is here illegally. How is simply shipping him back across the border a sufficient punishment? Why should he get away with a very serious crime simply because he committed a less serious one?
If we simply round him up and send him home, there are no consequences for his rape, molestation, or murder. He’s free to prey on people in his own home country, or sneak back into ours and prey on people here. That makes no sense.
The just thing to do is to convict him of his (serious) crime and make him serve out his full sentence, just as any other rapist, child molester, or murderer would. Once he’s released from prison, then he can be “deported forthwith.”
I’d actually take a similar approach to illegal entry into the country. We routinely read stories of people who have illegally crossed our border several times. We kick them out; they sneak back in. And why wouldn’t they? They pay virtually no price for doing so? If they get caught and sent home, they are no worse off for having tried. That’s not a deterrent.
What if when we pick up an illegal immigrant, we give them 30 days in jail, then deport them? If we catch them again, we give them 60 days in jail before sending them home, and so on. (If they’ve committed other crimes, they serve time for those as well.)
It’s true that locking people up, providing room and board for them, is expensive. But people respond to incentives. A strong enough deterrent will stem the flow, and an escalating deterrent would ensure that even the most determined border crossers would eventually have to take heed.
Note: I don’t know what’s going on with WordPress, but it’s not allowing me to put white space between my paragraphs. Hopefully this is some type of glitch that will sort itself out.
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