Diary

Another illegal immigrant sob story in The Philadelphia Inquirer

I was not moved to tears. From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Some federal officials concerned about turning immigrant gardener into a felon

By Deborah Sontag | Updated: April 12, 2018 — 5:03 AM EDT

Fred and Linda Ammerman, retirees who live in Upper Bucks County, looked a little lost as they entered a federal courtroom to attend the sentencing hearing for their gardener.

While the courthouse bustled with reporters covering the corruption trial of former District Attorney Seth Williams, Courtroom 8-B was eerily empty on that summer day. Almost nobody watches immigration cases, though they represent a significant portion of the federal docket.

“Are you the victims?’’ a court security officer asked them.

The Ammermans recoiled.

“Victims? What victims?’’ Linda Ammerman replied. “We’re with José.’’

José De La Cruz Ramirez, 36, had been crisscrossing the border since he was a teenager, commuting between his family in Mexico and his livelihood in Pennsylvania. Eight times, he had been caught and removed, but he kept coming back, to his landscaping job and to the thoroughbred farm, where he was considered a horse whisperer.

When he was captured again last April, the Trump administration threw the full weight of the law against him, indicting him for the felony offense of illegal reentry into the U.S. after removal.

The increasing criminalization of immigrants like De La Cruz was a quiet phenomenon of the last year. It reflected both an uptick in Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests across the country, and a federal directive to send repeat border-crossers to prison before deporting them.

There’s much more at the link, telling us how some federal officials are balking at the Attorney General’s order to start prosecuting illegal immigrants more thoroughly, and, of course, letting us know just what a nice guy Mr de la Cruz is.

Was the federal prosecutor really doing his job? The Inquirer stated that the prosecutor admitted that Mr de la Cruz had no prior criminal record and came to the US only to work and support his children.

Why doesn’t Mr de la Cruz have a prior criminal record. He had been deported eight times, meaning that he crossed the border illegally nine times; the only reason he had no prior criminal record is that the Obama Administration, and possibly the Bush Administration before that,¹ had not charged him with crimes when they clearly should have done so.

But there’s much more. Mr de la Cruz had been living in the United States for a number of years, and was employed both as the Ammerman’s gardener and at a thoroughbred farm. Either he had provided a false Social Security number, a felony,² to receive his wages, along with the additional crime of providing falsified or forged documents for ICE Form I-9, another felony,³ or he has been working for cash, under the table, and evading income and Social Security taxes, also a felony. Mr de la Cruz committed crimes other than just entering the country illegally; he just hadn’t been prosecuted for them. It’s simply no longer possible to live and work, legally, in the United States without a Social Security number.

What the Inquirer article fails to mention is that both the Ammermans and the unnamed thoroughbred farm at which Mr de la Cruz worked were also breaking the law. Regardless of whether Mr de la Cruz provided forged documents, both had to have known that an immigrant who had been previously deported several times was in the United States illegally, yet they continued to employ him, continued to pay him money for his services. Both the Ammermans and the thoroughbred farm should be prosecuted! The only way to stop immigrants from coming here illegally is to make it impossible for them to find jobs, and the only way to make it impossible for them to find jobs is to prosecute the people who hire them. The Trump Administration needs to set an example here.

Oh, we won’t like doing that, not in the slightest. The Ammermans are a retired couple, Mr Ammerman being 74 years old, and it will seem cruel, but if we continue to simply excuse that conduct, we will get more of it. We were told that Mr de la Cruz showed up at their home one day last winter, after having worked 16 hours on the horse farm, to shovel their long driveway after a snow; “Our own children wouldn’t have done this,” Linda Ammerman said. Well, one of their children should have done it, and if their children have read the Inquirer story, and live anywhere in the area, they should be hanging their heads in shame. But if the Ammermans were going to pay someone to clear their driveway, it should have been someone who was an American citizen or a legal resident, not an illegal immigrant.

As for the thoroughbred farm, I have no sympathy at all. They knew Mr de la Cruz’s status, and kept him on the payroll anyway. ICE should get a warrant, go in and check all of the employment records, see how many other illegal immigrants they are harboring and paying, and prosecute the owners and managers to the full extent of the law. That’s the only way to curtail illegal immigration.
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Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.
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¹ – The Inquirer article tells us that Mr de la Cruz, 36, had been crossing the border ‘since he was a teenager,’ which means since at least 2001, but does not tell us when he was first caught and deported.
² – 42 U.S.C. § 408(a)(7)(B)
³ – 8 U.S. Code § 1324c