Our laws were written in the most emphatic terms to ensure that those who entered illegally cannot remain in this country undetected. The purpose of those laws was precisely to detect illegal aliens and ensure that they are promptly removed from the country. Yet lower court judges, violating foundational Supreme Court case law, are flipping those laws upside down and are now making it unlawful to detect and deport illegal aliens. The latest Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is a great example of why no new laws will solve the problem if the executive branch will passively capitulate to lower courts subverting existing laws. The cycle will just continue.
On Wednesday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that two Guatemalan illegal aliens could not be deported based on ICE finding out their unlawful status from a traffic stop initiated by a state trooper. In doing so, the judges not only created a Fourth Amendment right to privacy against detecting one’s illegal immigration status – contrary to years of case law – but also ruled that illegal aliens can’t be deported based on obtaining such information! In other words, when the laws say illegal aliens cannot be shielded from detection (8 U.S. Code §1324), they really mean they cannot be detected.
The two plaintiffs, Erick Geovany Yoc-Us and Luis Calel-Espantzay, are Guatemalan nationals who were sleeping in the back of a van when Pennsylvania state trooper Luke Macke pulled over the vehicle for speeding. There were six other people in the van who turned out to be citizens of Mexico, El Salvador, and Ecuador. Any commonsense police officer seeing that circumstance would have reasonable suspicion that they are in the country illegally.
The trooper smartly asked them for immigration papers or other forms of ID. The trooper called ICE, the people admitted to being here illegally, and they were placed in deportation proceedings. They were ordered deported by an immigration judge, and the ruling was upheld by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the appellate body of immigration court system.
Open and shut, right? Illegal aliens have no right to remain here and no right to remain undetected. As I’ve noted before, illegal aliens could have some constitutional rights if we want to permanently confine them, but if we merely want to remove them from the country, they have no Fourth Amendment rights against that. In fact, the laws are explicitly designed to ensure they are immediately detected.
Section 1324 prevents officials from shielding from detection, harboring, inducing, encouraging, or transporting illegal aliens and enabling them to remain in the country. The Alien Registration Act (8 U.S. Code §1253) downright requires them to register and carry papers on them.
As Dan Cadman, former ICE agent and fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, told CR, “The federal alien smuggling-harboring-transporting statute, 8 U.S.C.1324, gives state and local police the authority to enforce its provisions. Using good police work, these officers developed probable cause to believe that one illegal alien was unlawfully transporting the others in violation of that statute. That ICE chose instead only to pursue civil deportation proceedings against all of them does not invalidate the lawful stop and investigatory actions of the Pennsylvania police and should not form a basis to suppress the evidence that flowed from their actions."
But two of the illegal aliens appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals claiming that their Fourth Amendment rights were violated because, of course, the trooper asked for papers because of their appearance, in their view. Again, such a lawful stop wouldn’t violate the Fourth Amendment even if they turned out to be Americans, but in this case, they were indeed illegal aliens. As Chris Hajec, director of litigation for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, told CR, “This is a deeply absurd decision. Illegal aliens do not have the right to be in this country. So they do not have the right that citizens have to travel around it freely. No police officer is violating the Fourth Amendment by detaining an illegal alien for a reasonable time.”