Response to ‘Criminalizing Everyone’

The news article I have attached below was published in the Washington Times on Monday, October 5, 2009 and should be of tremendous concern to all Americans.

The title of the article sums it up concisely:

“Criminalizing Everyone”

You may wonder if this article has a nexus with the subject I write about nearly exclusively; immigration. In point of fact there is a nexus but we will get to that momentarily. First I would like to capsulize the facts illuminated by this article.

According to the report by its author, Brian W. Walsh, American citizens are being prosecuted in apparently increasing numbers, for what would appear to be minor infractions of law that have no real impact on our nation or our citizens.

The first example provided in the article detailed how an elderly couple who had lived for a long time in their home in Spring, Texas found themselves on the wrong side of the law when federal agents executed a search warrant at their home. The couple, Kathy and George Norris were apparently shocked when the agents entered their home to execute the search warrant concerning violations of laws that these agents were responsible for enforcing. The agents in this case, were from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Mr. Norris who was at the time of this event, 66 years old, was the subject of an investigation into his cultivation, importation and selling of orchids. According to the news article, his crime involved the companies from which he ordered his orchids not properly completing paperwork in conjunction with the importation of the orchids which he was apparently, legally entitled to import!

He was sentenced to serve two nearly two years in prison and was given a period of supervision after his release from a federal jail. Consider this quote from the article: “The Norrises’ nightmare began with the search in October 2003. It didn’t end until Mr. Norris was released from federal supervision in December 2008. His wife testified, however, that even after he came home, the man she had married was still gone. He was by then 71 years old. Unsurprisingly, serving two years as a federal convict – in addition to the years it took to defend unsuccessfully against the charges – had taken a severe toll on him mentally, emotionally and physically.”

Next I would like you to consider another example brought to light in the news report below: “Krister Evertson, another victim of over criminalization, told Congress, “What I have experienced in these past years is something that should scare you and all Americans.” He’s right. Evertson, a small-time entrepreneur and inventor, faced two separate federal prosecutions stemming from his work trying to develop clean-energy fuel cells. “The feds prosecuted Mr. Evertson the first time for failing to put a federally mandated sticker on an otherwise lawful UPS package in which he shipped some of his supplies.

A jury acquitted him, so the feds brought new charges. This time they claimed he technically had “abandoned” his fuel-cell materials – something he had no intention of doing – while defending himself against the first charges. Mr. Evertson, too, spent almost two years in federal prison.”

I want you to remember that I was a federal agent for roughly 3 decades. While I may not have agreed with every single component of the laws I enforced at the former INS, my sense was that what we did served an important purpose- the INS sought to remove illegal aliens whose presence in our country had a negative impact on our nation and our citizens.

What is amazing to me is that even as ever more stringent laws are being enacted that encroach on our expectations of privacy and liberty all too many of our nation’s leaders are unwilling to enforce the immigration laws that are intended to protect our nation and our citizens.

Mr. Norris is an elderly American citizen whose actions were not, of themselves, illegal. His home-based business apparently harmed no one. Furthermore he is not only elderly but of failing health- according to the article he suffers from diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. What was accomplished by punishing this man and consequently his wife?

With all of the ranting about how the arrest of illegal aliens divide families- an utterly fatuous argument- I wonder if Ms Pelosi who has publicly declared the arrest of illegal aliens to be “Un-American” I wonder when she will weigh in on this case. I also wonder if she will weigh in on the second case noted in the article where a Krister Evertson, an inventor ran afoul of the law when, according to the news article, his crime was to fail to place a sticker on a UPS package!

I recall a comedian doing a funny routine about how he demonstrated his courage by removing all of those “Do Not Remove” tags that come attached to bedding and furniture! Those tags were not supposed to be removed by the merchants who sold those items but, given this article, perhaps the day will soon arrive when “tag inspectors” will barge into people’s homes to check for those tags and cart anyone who removed them, off to jail!

So much for “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness!

Criminal justice must, first and foremost, be just! That means that the punishment must fit the crime!

When millions of illegal aliens enter our country in violation of law and in so doing impact everything from national security and criminal justice to the economy, the environment, health care and education and no less than an authority than the President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration (Chuck Schumer) can once again attempt to ram “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” down our throats because such lunacy is commensurate with their political agendas, then the time has come for the citizens of this nation to make their voices heard!

As many of you know, I lost my parents to cancer when I was a college student, but their advice and words of wisdom resonate in my mind (and in my heart) daily!

I recall my dad telling me that I would teach the people I encountered how they should treat me by making it clear to all what I was willing to accept! This is advice I would recommend to all of you!

If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.

In less than two years each and every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. In less than two years more than one third of the members of the United States Senate will have to face their constituents. They need to be reminded that they work for us, We the People!

However, the practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there. The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups.

There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines! The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.

I implore you to get involved! If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! You need to politely but pointedly, demand to know what they are doing to protect our nation. You need to ask them how they are protecting you and your families. You can also forward this commentary to them.

All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are! We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizen’s hang in the balance, This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue! You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem! Democracy is not a spectator sport! Lead, follow or get out of the way!

Criminalizing everyone By Brian W. Walsh

Michael Cutler
Michael Cutler, a former Senior INS Investigator, an expert witness in more than a dozen Congressional Hearings is a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and an advisor to the '911 Families for a Secure America.' He writes about the nexus between immigration and national security.