AP Video 'Expert': Being Here 'Without Documentation' Isn't a Crime

MexicanAboveAZflag0610One reason to hope that the Big 3 networks continue to muddle through their awful evening news ratings and somehow hang around is that there's an alternative out there that would be much worse.

If any of the networks ever considered outsourcing their nightly newscasts to the Associated Press, the likely result could be bad enough to make some long for the (relatively) good old days of Brian, Diane, and Katie.

An object example of the AP's pathetically one-sided, biased and completely not-transparent video reporting came last Tuesday when it covered the Department of Justice's lawsuit against Arizona's illegal immigration enforcement measure. The 1070 law tells police to verify citizenship status in "contact" situations (e.g., traffic stops and other routine matters) if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person or persons involved aren't here legally.

AP's go-to "expert" acts as if it's a given that the United States government has decided that being here illegally ("without documentation") isn't a crime. Seriously. During the 104-second report (first go here, then type "Arizona immigration" in the search bar near the bottom, and select "Fed. Suing to Block Ariz. Immigration Law"), AP reporter Brian Thomas interviewed no one who defended the law's constitutionality.

Here's the transcript:

Brian Thomas, AP Reporter: The Obama administration is suing the state of Arizona over what the President has called "a misguided law." Federal officials say the state's new immigration policy tries to override the government's authority under the Constitution. The measure requires police to question and possibly arrest illegal immigrants during the enforcement of other laws, like traffic stops.

Steven Vladeck, American Univ. Law Professor: The federal government has long since decided that it's not a crime to be in the United States without documentation. You can be removed from the United States, you can be deported, but you cannot be put in jail. And so the question is, "Do individual states, Arizona today, Maryland tomorrow, have the authority to decide for themselves to have a harsher regime?"

Thomas: The Justice Department argues the state plan will lead to the harassment of American citizens and others who are authorized to be here.

Tony Bustamante, Attorney in Arizona: Federal priority enforcement of immigration laws is to go after the criminals, the bad people who are causing havoc on society, not the gardeners and the landscapers and the cooks who make the economy go 'round and 'round.

Thomas: Those who support the pending law have said the stringent rules are necessary to fight drug trafficking, murders and other crimes plaguing the border state.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Maybe the federal government ought to ask for the help of local and state law enforcement to stop this illegal immigration situation.

Thomas: The federal government is hoping its lawsuit will stop other states looking to follow Arizona's lead.

Vladeck: If the federal government can show the Arizona laws are inconsistent with federal policies, the federal government can, should, and will win. And I think it's likely that they will do so.

Thomas: The next step is for the case to be assigned to a judge who will decided temporarily whether to block the law from taking effect at the end of this month.

A two-word, law-based response to Vladeck's claim that "The federal government has long since decided that it's not a crime to be in the United States without documentation" -- Horse manure:

Search 8 U.S.C. § 1325 : US Code - Section 1325: Improper entry by alien

(a) Improper time or place; avoidance of examination or inspection; misrepresentation and concealment of facts
Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.
(b) Improper time or place; civil penalties
Any alien who is apprehended while entering (or attempting to enter) the United States at a time or place other than as designated by immigration officers shall be subject to a civil penalty of -
(1) at least $50 and not more than $250 for each such entry (or attempted entry); or
(2) twice the amount specified in paragraph (1) in the case of an alien who has been previously subject to a civil penalty under this subsection.
Civil penalties under this subsection are in addition to, and not in lieu of, any criminal or other civil penalties that may be imposed.

The "without documentation" portion of Vladeck's statement is at best useless misdirection. If you aren't here legally, you're subject to the sanctions just noted. If you're here legally and happen to be "without documentation" at any given moment, that's a totally different situation, and I believe he knows it. The federal government (i.e., the executive branch) doesn't get to "decide" what is and what is not a crime. To make illegal entry not a crime, the law has to be changed by the legislative branch. That hasn't happened.

Vladeck's claim that "you cannot be put in jail" for being here illegally is objectively false, as bolded above in the excerpt from the law. Also note the use of the word "shall" (i.e., there is normally not supposed to be any discretion) as opposed to "may." Arizona's law is on target with the intent of federal law.

Vladeck's next bolded claim in the transcript above is tantamount to saying, "Policy becomes the law, no matter what the law says." No sir. Of course there will always be prosecutorial discretion that will dictate the best and most appropriate use of an attorney general's or county prosecutor's resources, but that's not what's at play here. What Vladeck is saying it that because immigration enforcement officials have a policy of trying to avoid going after "non-criminals" (an illogical word, because you're a criminal in this country the minute you cross the border illegally), that policy has in effect become the law, no matter what the law really is.

Brian Thomas could have found dozens of people to make mince meat of Vladeck's arguments, and chose not to. I wonder why?

This is lazy, statist liberalism at its best: We don't like a law, so we won't enforce it, until that tradition of non-enforcement becomes the law. It's the same bubble-headed logic that underlies the entire liberal mind-set towards the constitution: We don't like it, so we're going to decide that it means something other than what it clearly says, instead of going through the constitutionally mandated and deliberately difficult-by-design process of passing a constitutional amendment to change it to its desired meaning. Say what you will about whether or not the prohibition movement was misguided, but you have to acknowledge that they respected the constitution and the country enough to get their work done the right way. Contrast that with what the Clinton administration (and to an extent, the several administrations that preceded it) did to tobacco companies.

From the "This was so predictable" Dept. -- Vladeck's views towards the executive branch powers are selective and arguably partisan, as you will see from the opening paragraph of his American University bio:

Stephen I. Vladeck is a Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law, where his teaching and research focus on federal jurisdiction, national security law, constitutional law (especially the separation of powers), and international criminal law. A nationally recognized expert on the role of the federal courts in the war on terrorism, he was part of the legal team that successfully challenged the Bush Administration’s use of military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba ...

Here's another "This was so predictable" item, this time about "Attorney in Arizona" Tony (Antonio) Bustamante, from the far-left Phoenix New Times:

For our (40th) anniversary, we gathered many — not all — of those who've been targets of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas. Some, like politicos Phil Gordon, Mary Rose Wilcox, and Don Stapley, are converts to the struggle. Others, activists, stood up to protect the most vulnerable amongst us: Mexicans seeking to be part of the American Dream; prisoners looking to survive.

... 17) Antonio Bustamante: Phoenix attorney and activist who advises those who monitor Arpaio's anti-immigrant sweeps and defends demonstrators arrested for protesting the sheriff.

Brian Thomas didn't think viewers needed to know anything about Vladeck's or Bustamante's background. How typically pathetic.

Oh, I almost forgot: The picture at the top right of the Mexican flag appearing to fly above the Arizona flag is what viewers of the AP video get to see during the report's final seconds. It looks like a childish "in your face" move to me. And I didn't get to the matter of what other states, including Rhode Island, are doing that is at least as "harsh" as what Arizona is set to do.

As stated earlier, we could do worse than the evening news shows NBC, ABC, and CBS are currently feeding us. If AP's video reports really are the go-to alternative, we should hope that Brian, Diane, and Katie remain mired in mediocrity instead of disappearing entirely.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.