10/14/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Illegal Aliens Are Criminals -- Period

This is the sound of me opening a Pandora's Box. But crimes are being committed so I must.

Look, I'm a sympathetic person. I openly weep at complete stranger's misfortunes. But I cannot abide people who break the law and then want sympathy because they get caught and punished.

I'm speaking about those immigrants, in this country illegally, who've been recently caught up in a federal sweep of suspect workplaces.

Yeah, yeah - I know all about the Statue of Liberty plaque declaring America welcomes the world's huddled masses. And I'm all for that - if it is done in an organized, respectful, legal way. Immigrants have to follow the laws - just as we Americans have to - otherwise we stay mired in the immigration chaos we have now.

The illegal immigration problem is like tackling the massive energy supply problem. We have to start somewhere. For years our leaders let the immigration situation get the better of us - through both Democratic and Republican administrations. And, now as steps are being taken to try to get it under control critics scream that America is mean-spirited, inhumane and bigoted.


If America is so cold-hearted then why are some 12 million immigrants already living and working here and enjoying the benefit of our schools, hospitals and welfare programs? And some have been allowed to stay in the United States for decades. That doesn't sound uncaring to me.

Recently, federal agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) moved in to Laurel, Mississippi and arrested nearly 600 suspected illegal aliens. They were from Brazil, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Peru. Their employer was the Howard Industries electronics factory. After the roundup Howard released a statement declaring that it runs "every check allowed by law to ascertain the immigration status of all applicants. It is company policy (to) hire only U. S. citizens and legal immigrants."

I don't know if the company is telling the whole truth there. But I do know that some of those arrested in Mississippi were charged with identity theft. Just like many of the 300 suspects I.C.E. agents arrested back in May at a meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa. And, just like many of 1,297 workers picked up in a six state raid of Swift Meat Packing plants in December 2006. The charge: they stole another person's identity so they could get work in America.

They compounded their own criminality.

After entering our country illegally many of these people then got work in the United States illegally by using the stolen identities of American citizens. Now that employers are under strict hiring guidelines the feds say immigrants show up to apply for work with original looking U.S. birth certificates, phony-but-authentic looking social security cards and other convincing documents they've bought from well established, organized counterfeit rings.

Some of the stolen identities are those of dead Americans, most are still living. Think of the identity theft mess these U.S. citizens will encounter when they are confronted with bills they don't owe, learn their credit has been ruined or their Social Security retirement fund is in question.

I know, I know ... the immigrants buy the identities in an urgent effort to follow a dream, to feed and educate their family and I feel for them. But they can't be allowed to pursue their dream by victimizing American citizens and committing multiple felonies.

It's also crystal clear that some greedy companies are guilty of exploiting these desperate people because it provides them with a cheaper workforce. Those companies need to be prosecuted too.

Arizona, the state that endures more illegal entries than any other, has what appears to be an effective law. Any business found employing an illegal immigrant has its license suspended. A second offense and the business's license is revoked permanently. Two strikes and your out and businesses are said to be taking the new sanctions very seriously.

I feel profoundly sad for the plight of hard working illegal aliens and, especially, the position in which their own bad judgment put their families. But they are the ones who chose to break the law to get here and to stay here.

Some of the family members and supporters of the recently arrested staged protests complete with banners and chants that declare 'We have a right to be here, too."

Ummm. Actually, they don't. Everyone has human rights, but no automatic right to full U.S. protection. First, they're not Americans. Second, they are accused of committing multiple felonies. Criminals loose their rights - period. This position isn't cold hearted. It's firmly grounded in the rule of law on which this country was founded.

As former President Jimmy Carter once famously said, "Life is not fair. Get used to it."


Diane Dimond can be reached through her website:

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