Friday, February 25, 2011

Why is creating new felonies the solution to every social problem? Immigration edition

Talk about cognitive dissonance: AP reports, "Bill would make hiring illegal workers a felony," while the Texas Tribune adds, "But maids are OK."

As if for a second there's remotely enough extra space in Texas prisons or jails to create a new class of "criminal" businesses and entrepreneurs! It's absurd to even imagine. But still, this and other similarly draconian measures are being debated seriously at the same time as $584-$786 million cuts are being demanded at TDCJ. Meanwhile, urban jails are full, but other legislation would require local law enforcement to boost demand for jail beds with immigration violators. Big Government Conservatism is just as expensive as Big Government Liberalism, and with one in 22 adult Texans already in prison, jail, on probation or on parole, the Lone Star State has pretty much already maxxed out on how many people we can afford to lock up. Ask voters in my hometown in Tyler, no liberal bastion, who have turned down four county jail plans in the last several years and will now vote on a fifth proposal in May. For the most part, as the Smith County example shows, folks who don't want higher taxes don't want them for jails any more than they do for Obamacare. So where would we put all the immigration arrestees? Federal courts are backed up and can't process more cases, a situation exacerbated by the fact that border districts like the Texas Southern can't get federal judicial nominees approved in the US Senate.

If implemented as sweepingly as proponents describe, these bills would flat-out swamp the criminal justice system, in much the way that substituting incarceration for mental health treatment has put undue burden on police, jails and courts. Using the criminal justice system to "solve" social problems like immigration, substance abuse, mental illness, etc., ensures  a) the system's failure and b) that other, more on-point solutions aren't pursued. We've already got 2,383 felony crimes on the books, according to the parole board's most recent count.

I realize my position on immigration puts me in the minority. I'm just not that freaked out by immigration, consider it much more boon than bane for the economy, believe most "illegal immigrants" should have been allowed legal access in the first place, and find the notion abhorrent that a nation of immigrants and their children would grow wealthy and then seek to close the doors behind them. Let's set those disagreements aside, though, just for a moment.

Here's what I want to know: As a practical matter, Texas is already talking about reducing prison capacity, and urban jails in Harris, Dallas, Hidalgo, Cameron, and Bexar are packed to the gills. Where, physically, will those arrested and prosecuted go and how will proponents of such measures pay for it? If federal courts can't process current volumes, how will they handle all the new immigration cases local law enforcement is supposed to be bringing them? We're talking about unleashing local law enforcement on potentially millions of otherwise law abiding folk and thousands of Texas businesses who also employ plenty of actual citizens, diverting police efforts from more serious crimes. (Federal prosecutors in Texas have all but stopped pursuing white collar cases to focus on their immigration caseloads.)

Clearance rates for "burglary of a vehicle" are less than 2%, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee was told on Tuesday, but we're going to divert law enforcement to rounding up illegal immigrants and their employers? Arguably, the reason BOVs don't get solved more often is that law enforcement is already spread too thin, and these types of laws certainly don't help the problem.

Mass incarceration is a rich nation's game, and the bill is due. With one in 22 adult Texans already under supervision of the state criminal justice system, surely there's a limit to how much incarceration may be further used to address social problems like immigration, which historically, at least since Reconstruction, has not fallen under the purview of state courts or local law enforcement. More cops, jails and prisons cannot be the solution to every social problem, but for some reason they're almost always the only ones proposed. More than anything, perhaps it just represents a failure of imagination.


Anonymous said...

Hear, hear!

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong, Grits, but I think the logic here is that tougher illegal immigration enforcement--and a reduction in employment opportunities occassioned by this particular legislation--might result in fewer illegals coming to this country and many of the ones here going home. This may, arguably, result in a net SAVINGS to the taxpayers in terms of a reduction in monies spent on education, indigent health care costs and other costs associated with illegal immigration.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Good luck finding those "savings," 9:26. IMO they'll be ephemeral, at best, while the police and jail costs would be real, large, and immediate.

Anonymous said...

"Clearance rates for "burglary of a vehicle" are less than 2%"........"Arguably, the reason BOVs don't get solved more often is that law enforcement is already spread too thin, and these types of laws certainly don't help the problem."

Grits.........that's not true. More cops on the beat or more attention to property crimes would not get the clearance rate up. Opposed to crimes against persons, crimes against property, including motorevehicle burlaries, traditionally have had low solvability factors.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:37, You could be right, but we know for sure LESS attention to property crimes won't get clearance rates up. Right? The Big Lebowski approach never caught anybody.

My belief is that the $ for a BOV enhancement would be better spent on grants to target investigating repeat offenders, except, whoops, the state is going to eliminate money designated for such grants, while keeping the dedicated fee in place. So they're gutting the state's main program aimed at boosting clearance rates, and then we're supposed to believe punishing the increasing few people caught more harshly will somehow make things better? How does that work? I don't buy it.

Anonymous said...

"My belief is that the $ for a BOV enhancement would be better spent on grants to target investigating repeat offenders....and then we're supposed to believe punishing the increasing few people caught more harshly will somehow make things better?"

I'm down with you on that statement. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Alan said...

I presume the bills in question make it a capital offense if the crime also involves oysters.

Hook Em Horns said...

This is Texas Scott. Haven't you figured it out yet? Jails and prisons solve EVERYTHING! The same people in Austin that you expect to have some understanding of the insanity of this monstrous prison system they built are the same ones creating more felonies.

It's like a bad joke only it's real...very real. You can wash a hog with soap and water, put a bow tie on it and guess what, you still have a hog. In Texas politics, you can pacify the ignorance of the electorate with tough on crime bullshit that keeps sucking their tax dollars down it's gullet and guess what, IT'S STILL A HOG!

The politics in Texas are NO BETTER than those of other poorer and arguably more corrupt southern states we just dress it out better! Some of us see through it, call it out for what it is but it's hard to argue with entrenched idiots who are driving the blue-bird!

Anonymous said...

Anybody that truely wants to work CAN find a job. It may not be what you want to do - but hey - its a job. Illegals most of the time do the work that US citizens are too GOOD to do! I'd bet the criminals are US citizens and yet you want to punish the illegals and the people who hire them? Wait, didn't most of your ancestors come from some other country? Don't punish the illegals for wanting a better life. That's what our ancestors wanted. Just think, if they hadn't come over you'd be trying to get here just like everybody else. Then you'd be illegal too. I think we ought to help those who want to stay in this country by helping them become legalized easier, cheaper, and faster and not put them in prison. Its takes a heck of a lot of $ to become legal, that's why most of them hide and take whatever work they can get. You want them to pay taxes like everyone else - if they haven't committed a crime and just want to make a better life for themselves and their families, lets fix it! You think when you get to heaven God cares if you were illegal? I don't think that's what He's going to look at. We must all live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Anonymous said...

Open borders!

Anonymous said...

Texas demographer: 'It's basically over for Anglos'

Looking at population projections for Texas, demographer Steve Murdock concludes: "It's basically over for Anglos."

Two of every three Texas children are now non-Anglo and the trend line will become even more pronounced in the future, said Murdock, former U.S. Census Bureau director and now director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University.
Steve Murdock.jpg
Steve Murdock

Today's Texas population can be divided into two groups, he said. One is an old and aging Anglo and the other is young and minority. Between 2000 and 2040, the state's public school enrollment will see a 15 percent decline in Anglo children while Hispanic children will make up a 213 percent increase, he said.

The state's largest county - Harris - will shed Anglos throughout the coming decades. By 2040, Harris County will have about 516, 000 fewer Anglos than lived in the Houston area in 2000, while the number of Hispanics will increase by 2.5 million during the same period, Murdock said. The projection assumes a net migration rate equal to one-half of 1990-2000.

By 2040, only 20 percent of the state's public school enrollment will be Anglo, he said. Last year, non-Hispanic white children made up 33.3 percent of the state's 4.8 million public school enrollment.

Anonymous said...

This bill is, at least, fifty years too late. Illegals are now coming for entitlements, not work.

PAPA said...

STOP the INSANITY! the Jail/Prison Society is overflowing. NO VACANCIES! Instead maybe suspend that Business from doing business for 30 days for each illegal then put a penalty on top of that or create a tax/penalty that goes straight to support the jail/prison society communities.To get people's attention you MUST get into their pocket book,it has to cost them something of value which is their MONIES.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:04

Either back up your statement with evidence, or back down!

Charles in Tulia

DEWEY said...

An Idea. Make it a felony NOT to have a felony. Where to put 'em? build a double chain link fence with razor wire around the borders of Texas, with guard towers every one hundred yards . (Sarcasm is one of my better virtues.)

Anonymous said...

Charles, how about you prove me wrong?

Stop the Magnet said...

The most ardent supporters of status quo are the treason lobby with the exact type of contempt for the rule of law as they have for our war dead and the next generation of Americans to awaken subjects in their own land because of those who profit from this labor system. the writer is of this sort.

Anonymous said...

Stop the Magnet-
Could you express your ideas coherently?

Anonymous said...

anon 9:04 and 1:04

I'm not the one making the claims.

Charles in Tulia

Anonymous said...

Charles, they are undocumented, so there are no stats. Just the line at the grocery store behind the illegals with the Lone Star card. I have nothing against Mexicans. But the truth is there are fewer and fewer jobs available for them here. The only thing we have to offer them is our entitlements, which still make their lives better than what they have in Mexico. Believe me, if I could get better treatment in Mexico, I'd go there illegally in a heartbeat. If our present lege continues the route it's going, that could be a real possibility.

Anonymous said...

anon 6:38

How do you know those in the grocery line with Lone Star cards are undocumented?

Anonymous said...

7:00 You are asking a question that you either know the answer to, or you don't. Try to make this all racial profiling if you want, but I've lived in West Texas and West New Mexico all my life. It's not hard to spot someone who is not a native.

Stop the magnet said...

Sure ...
Treason lobby seeks to legitimize illegal population so that they can continue to profit from the current labor system-I.e. Non-enforcement. These people have no morality or concern for the problems they set up for the next generation as they will then be overtaken by invading population. Further they have no respect form the blood spilled to create this free nation.
In summary the business and treason lobby deserve to be jailed ,fined,or other harsh punishments as they are the root cause of people coming to the US illegally and burdening the community. The business community since it operates outside the rule of law and takes advantage of a compliant workforce and profits from the destructive effects of this problem upon the nation-state are no better and just as devious as the cartels.
If America is to become just a free for all what's to stop me or anyone else from going to some other country and bringing back whichever foreigners they choose back to the US under a tourist visa and using this cheaper labor for their own business. They could simply say " Well my business is good for the economy and I needed these three Danes for my special Danish furniture design shop". By the way I also taught these guys a way to get on the food stamp program I hope that's cool with all you taxpayers out there"
There is no difference between a union in Wisconsin and the union between the government and the Chamber of Commerce in screwing the American public.

Louie said...

Interesting posts. I am starting to really enjoy this blog, "...treason log..." and all. For the people that take any blog out of context, a hog is a hog, red bow tie and all. :)

Gritsforbreakfast said...

FWIW, the stuff about illegals and Lone Star cards, entitlements, etc., is garbage. Not happening on any significant scale. Most folks with fake ID fly under the radar, as a practical matter they don't go out of their way to subject their docs to extra government scrutiny.

People come here first and foremost for jobs. Second reason: Also jobs. As for government services, education is the only one that's actually a draw as a practical matter, and if you're entering this country illegally for the schools, you're probably not going to stay in Texas, where frankly ours aren't that good if you judge them by outcomes.

All the "treason lobby" stuff: Also garbage. IMO anyone who accuses someone else of "treason" but won't use their own name is a coward, a fool, or likely both, and the rhetoric discredits the arguments.

Stop the Magnet said...

I left my blog site for all to see. It is as treasonous as you can get to sell out your countrymen and the blood shed for this nation for over 1million border jumpers annually who costs Texas schools billions,incarceration,medical etc per matter how you slice it it is treasonous. Do you have children Grits? Have you given your pin number to any of the countless illegals standing on streetcorners?I 'd be willing to bet you do not live in a neighborhood filled up with illegals?
You are taking a position that places you squarely in the camp of the elites Bush,Soros,Newt,Obama they all want to give this country away.

DEWEY said...

What planet is "Stop The Magnet" from?

Anonymous said...

Well, Scott, we have the makings of a new felony. Rep. Wayne Christian (!), R. Center is sponsoring HB 1034, which would make it a felony to WATCH a cockfight in Texas. And AGN has jumped on the proposal in support, calling it a no-brainer.

I agree that it's a no-brainer. It ought to die for want of a Senate sponsor. It probably will not. Some senator will think it's the "christian" thing to do. But then it ought to die in committee.

When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn, that we don't need to make a felony out of every thing we may find morally objectionable?

Rev. Charles, an unabashed follower of the way from Tulia

Celeste said...

I agree with "Anonymous". The so called state of Texas was taken from Mexico, so if anybody is illegal it's any Texan who is not Hispanic. Even the so called United States was taken from the Native Americans, so no one but God has the right to say who stays and who goes. Most sex offenders are white males, some pervert who messes with babies and kids, but according to the judicial system they are OK to live amongst us, but not an illegal Hispanic person who works 3 jobs, goes to church, and takes care of his family? That foolishness!