A Democratic U.S. senator got a lesson in basic immigration law on Tuesday. She was told, quite simply, that breaking the law is illegal.
The bizarre exchange between Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official took place during a Senate hearing. Hirono had taken great offense at top ICE official Matthew Albence saying that the family residential centers (FRCs) children of illegal aliens are temporarily placed in after sneaking across the border are “more like summer camps” than jails.
Albence had even explained what he meant, according to CNN, saying, "These individuals have access to 24/7 food and water. They have educational opportunities. They have recreational opportunities, both structured as well as unstructured. There's basketball courts, there's exercise classes, there's soccer fields that we put in there. They have extensive medical, dental and mental health opportunities. In fact, many of these individuals, the first time they've ever seen a dentist is when they've come to one of our (family residential) centers."
It’s a far cry from the image of kids locked in animal cages — a common claim made by liberal activists.
But Hirono would have none of it. She pointedly looked at several ICE officials and demanded to know if they would send their own children to a family residential center. After a couple officials awkwardly answered that it’s very difficult to answer such a strange hypothetical, the senator demanded an answer from Albence.
“Mr. Albence, would you send your child to FRCs?” Hirono asked.
“I think we’re missing the point,” Albence replied before pointing out the obvious. “These individuals are there because they have broken a law.”
But Hirono interjected, “They have broken a law as deemed so by the president with this—”
“No, ma’am,” Albence corrected her. “They are there for violation of Title 8 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, U.S. C (Code) 1325. That’s illegal entry. It’s both a criminal and civil violation. They are in those FRCs pending the outcome of that civil immigration process.”
“They have broken the law.”
“My understanding is, under zero-tolerance, these are no longer civil proceedings but are in fact criminal proceedings,” Hirono continued.
“They’re criminal proceedings when the Border Patrol prosecuted them, but at the conclusion of that process, once the individual came into ICE custody, they would go through administrative proceedings,” the ICE official explained to her, laying out the basics.
There was a long pause, followed by: “I’m confused.”
“The criminal proceeding is the individual being prosecuted for the criminal violation of improper entry,” Albence explained.
Let’s make it even simpler.
People cross the border without permission and break the law. They get caught by the authorities. Rather than being sent straight back, they’re given an opportunity to plead their case to an immigration judge and possibly bond out of custody. Deportation, if it happens, can take a long time to occur. In the meantime, children of illegal aliens are placed in school-like centers where they receive free education, healthcare, recreation, entertainment, food, and beds, paid for by the American taxpayer.
And Democrats like Hirono think that’s horribly inhumane.