The Philadelphia Inquirer tweeted:
— Philly Inquirer (@PhillyInquirer) November 14, 2016
And now, the story:
by Michaela Winberg and Michael Matza, Philadelphia Inquirer staff writers | Updated: November 14, 2016 — 7:52 AM EST
Javier Flores, originally from Mexico, moved into the Arch Street United Methodist Church on Sunday, seeking sanctuary from deportation.
Until he took refuge in a small basement room of the Center City church, Flores, 40, lived in Northeast Philadelphia with his wife, Alma Sanchez, and their U.S.-born children – a 13-year-old daughter, and sons, 4 and 2.
Flores entered the United States illegally in 1997. Since then, he was deported and reentered illegally multiple times.
In 2015, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested him in a raid at his home and sent him to Pike County Correctional Facility, a detention center under contract to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
There’s more at the original, but Mr Flores has been deported and re-entered the United States illegally not once but “multiple times.” That makes him a criminal several times over.
Naturally, the Inquirer continued to try to make the reader sympathetic:
Agents “took him in front of his daughter and oldest son,” said Olivia Vazquez, an organizer with Juntos, a South Philadelphia immigrant-support group, which is advocating for Flores. “It affected his kids on an emotional level, and they’re still struggling to get through it.”
After spending 15 months in Pike, Flores was released 90 days ago, under ICE supervision, and allowed to return to his family to get his affairs in order in preparation for deportation. He was due to surrender Monday, but took refuge in the church.
OK, what absolute idiot released Mr Flores to “get his affairs in order” before deportation? ICE already knew that Mr Flores was a criminal, and that deporting him previously hasn’t stopped him from returning to the United States. Anyone with any common sense would have understood that Mr Flores wouldn’t just show up nicely for deportation, but, apparently, there’s no one with any common sense at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The only real solution is to try and convict Mr Flores for all of his illegal entries, and sentence him to the maximum allowed under the law, sentences to run consecutively, and throw him back in jail for a year. Then deport him, with the rest of his sentence to be served, in as miserable conditions as legally possible, if he ever returns to the United States.
Simple deportation is not enough; our porous borders mean that the deportees can simply turn around and head right back to the US. The deportees must be tried first, and have serious criminal sentences hanging over their heads, sentences which guarantee long incarceration if they ever return. There must be consequences to returning which are serious enough to serve as a practical deterrent
An obvious question, one not addressed by the Inquirer: is Alma Sanchez, Mr Flores wife, a citizen, or an immigrant here legally, or yet another illegal immigrant? In he end, it doesn’t matter: if she’s here legally, she can stay, but if she’s an illegal, she should be deported, too.
The Inquirer is out to make a sob story of this, but if the United States is going to follow the incoming President’s stated policies, we cannot allow hard stories to influence immigration decisions. Mr Flores has to go, and the fact that it might have a negative impact on his children does not and cannot matter. The Flores’ children are American citizens, but that’s just too bad: if both of their parents are here illegally, the Flores’ should be given the choice of taking their children back to Mexico with them, or surrendering them for foster care.
Were the Flores receiving welfare benefits to which they were not entitled, not being citizens? If so, that would constitute fraudulently applying for, and accepting those benefits, yet another crime. Was there a social worker involved, who approved such benefits, while knowing that the Flores were not legally entitled to them? If so, then that social worker also broke the law, and needs to be tried and convicted, and sent to prison if possible; that is the only way to deter other soft-hearted social workers from doing the same things.
Let me be clear about that: that is very hard-hearted, but it is the only way to address the problem!
But there’s more. If Mr Flores was working while he was here, then either he presented forged documents to his employer certifying his employment eligibility on ICE Form I-9, or his employer hired him without documentation, or he was working for cash, under the table. If the first is true, then Mr Flores has committed other crimes beyond entering the country illegally; if one of the latter two are true, then his employer (plural?) has committed crimes, and also needs to be prosecuted.
We will not solve the illegal immigration problem by going lightly on employers! When we find an employer who has deliberately broken the law by hiring someone he knew to be here illegally, not only does the illegal immigrant need to go to jail, but so does the employer. Not just fines, but actual time in jail; that will send the message to other employers to clean up their acts.
Am I hard-hearted? Yes! Am I an [insert slang term for the rectum here]? Guilty as charged! But being soft-hearted, being all warm and fuzzy and nice won’t solve the problem!
The Inquirer did us a public service: it identified an illegal immigrant, and told us where he is hiding. The very stupid new Mayor of Philadelphia said that he was going to make the City of Brotherly Love a “sanctuary city” again, and the incoming President has stated that his policy is to defund sanctuary cities; Mr Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress absolutely needs to make that happen. Since we cannot count on the Philadelphia Police Department to arrest Mr Flores, ICE agents need to go into Arch Street United Methodist Church, arrest Mr Flores and take him into custody.
Sanctuary, as a legal principle, does not really exist in this country in criminal matters. In English common law, sanctuary existed for criminals in churches, but eventually that was curtailed, and finally abolished by Parliament under King James I in 1624. Sanctuary was one of the issues between King Henry II and Thomas à Becket, along with the Church’s insistence that clerics accused of civil crimes be tried in church courts. Mr Flores’ safety in sanctuary is based on nothing more than a romantic illusion, and there is no legal reason why the authorities cannot enter the church in which he is hiding, and arrest him. President Obama won’t push for that, but his elected successor should.