“Protecting” Illegal Aliens Isn’t Neighborly or Virtuous: It’s a Crime

You could hardly have missed it.  It was all over the media in the past few days, and seemingly painted more as a human-interest story than one about people flagrantly violating the law: “Nashville neighbors stop ICE agents from nabbing father and son by linking arms in driveway”; “ICE agents back down after neighbors, activists link arms to help father and son avoid feds”; “ICE tries to bring man into custody, neighbors form human chain to let them get home”;  etc., etc.

Amazingly, one reporter even stated, as if it were an indisputable fact, that “[b]ecause this was a civil matter … citizens are not committing a crime by interfering.”  That’s simply incorrect as a matter of law, and reckless to even suggest.

So why were none of these “neighbors” arrested for stopping ICE from picking up someone the agency says was a known convicted criminal?  When police come looking for an American citizen who’s committed a crime, do the neighbors normally think they can get in the way without consequences?  Do they think keeping law enforcement from doing their jobs and keeping the community safe is just the neighborly thing to do?

When 10 News Nashville spoke to Lincoln Memorial University law professor William Gill to try to explain to viewers why none of the “human chain” were arrested, he didn’t say ICE couldn’t have arrested them.  Instead he recognized the agency likely could have for “some kind of obstruction charge” but for whatever reason “probably decided they didn’t want to do that.”

But what does the law actually say?  The law sure sounds like this was a crime.  Probably multiple crimes.

Professor Gill’s first instinct was correct in mentioning the federal obstruction of justice laws.  When ICE is actively looking for a particular illegal alien, that often means the alien has already been ordered removed from the country by an immigration judge.  It follows  that someone getting in the way of ICE enforcing that order of removal could be committing “obstruction of proceedings” before a federal agency, namely before the immigration court that issued the order.

But there are also other federal crimes more specific to people getting in the way of immigration enforcement.  In Title 8 of the United States Code, Section 1324 is called “Bringing in and harboring certain aliens.”  It’s often referred to as the federal alien “smuggling” statute, but it actually criminalizes many more activities regarding protecting or assisting aliens than just anything that could described as smuggling. 

It’s probably more accurate to refer to it as the alien harboring statute.  It might or might not have applied to this particular situation, but easily could in similar circumstances.

Notably, neither the obstruction nor harboring statute requires federal agents to have a criminal warrant for the person they’re looking before someone else deliberately getting in the way can be arrested.  Neither statute draws any distinction between criminal and civil enforcement at all.

This is just one prominent episode in an alarming trend: a lot of people don’t just think illegal aliens can freely break the law, but that everyone else can do it too if it’s to “help” or “protect” illegal aliens.  It’s one more part of what’s been described as “a radical new framework that treats any restrictions on immigration and enforcement of current laws as immoral.” 

Even people like the Mayor of Oakland or a state court judge in Massachusetts—public officials sworn to uphold the law—buy into it and act on it.  It’s easy virtue-signaling as long as there are no consequences.

So there need to be consequences.  This dangerous myth needs to be dispelled or more people will interfere with immigration enforcement and it’ll become ever more dangerous for everyone involved.  While ICE exercised their judgment and discretion to act with restraint and not make criminal arrests this time, the only way to make people realize it’s unacceptable to obstruct the enforcement of immigration laws may be for ICE and other federal agencies to start making more arrests in the future when the “neighbors” try to get in the way.

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  1. avatar

    Even ICE is guilty. They released half of those arrested in Mississippi last week for “humanitarian” reasons. Many of those had final removal orders. Those activists who are encouraging these aliens to come to the US are breaking the law. Why aren’t they arrested and prosecuted? That’s why I get so tired of hearing people say Trump is doing everything he can, he isn’t. When you have 82,000 in July, in the heat of the summer, just wait till the weather cools off. As far as I am concerned, Trump is the worse president we have had on this issue.

  2. avatar
    Stephen Russell on

    But Dems dont care, they dont give a Damn, Dems Pro Illegal.
    & we suffer, see CA.
    Or CA gone nationwide.
    File charges to Dems

  3. avatar

    The illegals are not becoming legal “immigrants” for good reason. They are, wittingly or not, refusing to comply with the Mexican Government’s, and the Mexican Governments’ allied Latino Governments, instructions and even coercion to go to the USA to ultimately become US Citizens and thus have the right to vote in US Elections irresistibly controlled, most essentially, by the itself, since ’81, colonizing and invading Mexican Government. But what should I know? Right? bhttps://www.facebook.com/AmericanLivesMatter1/photos/gm.2288454977917869/1777049515775242/?type=3&theater&ifg=1

  4. avatar

    Bust ’em all. They’re aiding and abetting not just an illegal alien, but a fugitive from justice. Does our current AG have any guts at all? I’m seriously doubting it.

    • avatar

      I Get Your Point

      Hades, the Mueller Witch Hunt documents that it was caused by an illegal DNC “paid for” FISA dossier from Russia two years ago and our DOJ still sits on their hands and does nothing. Pathetic.

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  6. avatar

    We don’t have reporters, we have advocates for the most part. On Sunday on CNN Beto O’Rourke said that Trump had “called Klansman and white supremacists at Charlottesville fine people”. A complete lie because he said there were fine people on both sides of the issue of whether Confederate statues should be removed but he specifically at the time excluded white supremacists from that statement.

    The reason it keeps getting repeated, Biden said it a couple weeks ago, is that the media fails to correct it or call it out. So they are part of the lie. It’s like when Trump said Toledo instead of Dayton today and the media headlined it. Never mind that yesterday Biden gave his condolences to the people “in Houston and Michigan” with little mention from the media.. Not even remotely close but the media covers for anyone with a D behind their name.