Thursday, February 29, 2024

Don't learn wrong lesson from Laken Riley murder

 Over the weekend, a nursing student was murdered at my alma mater, the University of Georgia. The case gained national notoriety when the suspect was revealed to be an illegal immigrant who has been in the country since 2022.

The facts of the case are that 22-year-old Laken Riley failed to return from a jog on the UGA campus Thursday morning. A friend reported her missing around noon and police found her body near a lake on campus shortly after.

May be an image of crowd and text
Screenshot of UGA memorial service for Riley and Wyatt Banks, another UGA student who died by suicide last week Source:

Thanks for reading The Racket News ™! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

CNN reports that surveillance camera footage led police to Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26. Ibarra is a Venezuelan immigrant who crossed the US border illegally near El Paso in 2022. Atlanta’s 11 Alive reported that he was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in September 2022 and paroled and released for further processing.

A year later, Ibarra showed up in New York where he was arrested for “acting in a manner to injure a child less than 17 and a motor vehicle license violation.” He was released before ICE could issue a detainer. A detainer would have kept Ibarra in jail until ICE could take custody, but it is not clear that this would have led to expedited deportation.

If Ibarra is responsible for Riley’s murder - and it appears that he is - he should absolutely be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Violence against women is inexcusable and should not be condoned.

Having said that, it is possible to learn the wrong lesson from Riley’s murder. The case is being used by some to paint all immigrants as vicious thugs. While that may be true of Ibarra, the overall stereotype is a myth. It’s not even true of the majority of illegals.

Back in my days at The Resurgent, I looked at the statistics around illegal immigrant crime and found that while the data is incomplete, it does not support the notion that illegal immigrants are perpetuating a violent crime wave against native-born Americans. Studies show that crime rates for both illegal and legal immigrants rank below those of natural-born Americans, and cities on the southern border, where illegal immigrant populations are high, are less violent than many cities on the interior. (Big city crime rates also tend to be lower than small towns but that’s another misconception.)

So if you’re worried about being murdered by an illegal alien, don’t be. You’re far more likely to be killed by a homegrown American. I hope this makes you feel better.

There are violent criminals among immigrants, but they tend to be the exceptions. Gangs like MS-13 (which was founded in the US) and smugglers can be very violent, but the majority of immigrants are like the immigrants who have been coming to America for the past few hundred years. They want a better life and a chance at the American dream.

Previous immigrant waves included Irish and Italian gangsters, but that doesn’t mean that all or even a majority of Irish and Italian immigrants were gangsters. The same is true today.

And immigrant gangsters most often prey on peaceful, working-class immigrants. Often the victims are illegal immigrants who live in the shadows and are afraid to call the police for help. There is some truth to the Nancy Grace Rule that people don’t care about crime until it impacts telegenic white women.

Illegal immigrants are also often accused of smuggling drugs, but Homeland Security data shows that the majority of people caught transporting drugs like fentanyl across the border are American citizens. Again, this doesn’t mean that no immigrants smuggle drugs, but the problem is largely an American one.

If we stop to think about it, it makes sense that immigrants, especially illegal ones, would steer clear of criminal activity. These people are new to their country and in a sensitive or perhaps even unlawful position already. They don’t want to become associated with criminal activity that could attract attention to them or get them deported.

But Dave, you’re probably saying, aren’t illegal aliens already criminals by definition?

If you don’t know about current immigration law, you’d be surprised at the truth. A first offense for illegally crossing the border (“Illegal Entry”/8 U.S.C. § 1325) is only a misdemeanor punishable by a fine or a maximum of six months in jail.

But that misdemeanor goes away if the illegal crosser asks for asylum. Under current US law, asylum seekers don’t have to report to ports of entry or the first safe country or remain in Mexico. They just come to the US, cross the border anywhere, and ask for asylum. At that point, they are legal asylum-seekers are are permitted to remain in the US while their case is investigated.

"There’s no way to ask for a visa or any type of authorization in advance for the purpose of seeking asylum,” said Olga Byrne of the International Rescue Committee. “You just have to show up.”

If you don’t like this, you should probably support immigration reform to change the law.

In fact, asylum law is probably the biggest factor in illegal border crossing. Current law incentivizes illegal entry while the backlog of visa applications discourages immigrants from following the legal immigration process. It’s a broken and backward system.

The broken system is exacerbated by a lack of congressional funding. There are not enough detention facilities to house illegal immigrants and asylum seekers in sanitary conditions, meaning that thousands have to be released while their due process plays out. Due process takes years due to a backlog of 3 million cases, an average of 4,500 pending cases for each immigration judge. The immigration bill recently killed by MAGA Republicans contained fixes for these problems.

It is this lack of housing and funding that means that people like Jose Ibarra get released on their own recognizance to support themselves and wait on the courts. They are not, however, eligible for federal benefits until after asylum is granted despite many claims to the contrary.

Many also blame President Biden for not enforcing immigration laws and removing Donald Trump’s immigration policies. For the most part, this is not true. Biden’s immigration policy has been attacked as too much like Trump’s from the left at the same time that Republicans attack it from the right as an “open borders” policy. Some Trump policies, such as an attempt to skirt asylum law, were struck down by the courts and had to be dropped. Title 42 depended on emergency pandemic authority and had to be ended as the pandemic receded.

Statistics show that the Biden Administration deported a higher share of illegals than Trump and Biden has continued construction of the border wall. Biden’s actions may be flawed, but they certainly don’t constitute an open border.

Add to the mix that Trump, as one of his last acts as president, deferred deportation for Venezuelan immigrants for 18 months. Deportation flights didn’t resume until October 2023, after Ibarra was already in the US. I’m not blaming Trump for Ibarra’s presence, but the situation underscores the complexity of the immigration issue.

The waters are muddied further by the fact that Venezuela stopped accepting flights of its deported citizens last week. When people are to be deported, there has to be a country willing to accept them, and finding third parties to accept noncitizens in cases like this can be difficult.

The Biden Administration is also currently weighing executive actions to limit asylum claims and speed deportations. The problem is that presidential authority in these areas is limited. There is a reason that no Republican president has ever shut down the border except during the pandemic. It’s because those powers that Republicans now claim Biden holds rely on dubious legal theories.

To be fair, Biden has relied on dubious legal theories before, such as when he tried to forgive federal student loans, but maybe it’s a bad idea to stretch executive power in both scenarios. We shouldn’t be pushing presidents to expand executive power, especially in areas where the legal foundation is doubtful.

As the maxim goes, Congress doesn’t hide elephants in mouseholes. That applies to both student loans and immigration law. The asylum problem is one that is going to have to be fixed by Congress.

It is natural and understandable to be angry in the wake of Laken Riley’s death. It’s also appropriate to be angry at her murderer.

What isn’t appropriate or defensible is to blame all immigrants, legal or otherwise, for her death. Stereotyping an entire class of people with dishonest takes and outright lies may make good political sense, but it isn’t moral or decent. At its worst, it smacks of racism.

Instead, we should be angry at the Congress that refuses to fix our broken immigration system. Those who perpetuate the status quo so that they can keep getting clicks and donations are the ones who aided and abetted Jose Ibarra. Don’t reward them.

Thank you for reading The Racket News ™. This post is public so feel free to share it.


NATO EXPANDS: The Western European military alliance, far from being an anachronism, is growing. In news that will disappoint Vladimir Putin and his Blame America First allies in the US, Sweden cleared the final hurdle to NATO membership when Hungary approved the Nordic nation’s membership.

SCOTUS SOCIAL MEDIA: The Supreme Court heard arguments on social media cases from Texas and Florida. Republican-backed laws in both states would control how social media company platforms can moderate online content. I expect the laws to be struck down as a violation of the First Amendment.

ALABAMA IVF: Alabama’s Supreme Court accidentally shut down the state’s in vitro fertilization industry after ruling that frozen embryos are humans. Because some embryos are destroyed in the IVF process, hospitals and clinics are halting IVF work due to the uncertain legal ground on which the technique now stands. Under the ruling, hospitals could be liable in lawsuits for destroying the embryos.

From the Racket News

No comments: