(U-WIRE) COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Illegal immigrants have three chances to enter the United States unlawfully before they face a significant penalty – that’s three too many.
Illegal immigrants caught in the country are only detained for a short period of time and then deported. After two offenses, an illegal alien can still apply for citizenship after a waiting period of several years. That means immigrants can enter the country illegally three times before they are permanently unable to gain a visa. This three-strike system is too lenient and needs to be changed.
Those who come into the country illegally should not be given another opportunity to become an American citizen. To make these laws tougher, the federal government needs to make illegal immigration an aggravated felony. The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act clearly states that, “an alien convicted of an aggravated felony is inadmissible.” In order for illegal immigration to be a one-strike offense and be taken seriously, it should bear the penalty of an aggravated felony.
If immigrants knew that being caught crossing the border illegally would permanently ruin their chances for citizenship, they would see it as a major deterrent. Many illegal immigrants who come to the United States have hopes of one day being a citizen. Therefore, this upgrade in the punishment for illegal immigration would make many think twice.
Currently, aggravated felonies observed by the federal government include gambling offenses, supervising prostitution and money laundering. Entering the United States illegally is an equally serious crime as any of these, and the law should reflect that. The consequences of illegal immigration should at least be equal in severity to the punishment for these crimes.
Another aggravated felony is the smuggling of an unregistered immigrant. It seems very odd that it’s an aggravated felony for someone to smuggle in an illegal immigrant, but not for an immigrant to enter the country on his own. That doesn’t add up, as helping someone else enter illegally seems like a less severe crime. An illegal immigrant should not face a lesser penalty than a U.S. citizen who aids one.
Some argue that these laws are only significant in principle because the government lacks the ability to enforce them. That is about to change.
In Washington, lawmakers are debating a number of issues to include on a new immigration bill. However, a majority have already agreed on the issue of strengthening border security. This means increased funding for law enforcement agencies such as the Border Patrol and a crackdown on illegal immigration.
American citizens should recommend to the federal government that illegal immigration be made an aggravated felony. If not, illegal immigrants will continue to dismiss the light penalties and keep coming here against the law.