February 9, 2009
Yet Another Obama "Sovereignty" Test
A federal lawsuit filed by sixteen illegal immigrants, seeking damages from a rancher for the "tort" of keeping them off his land by making a citizen's arrest and handing them over to the Border Patrol, offers a determinative test for our new president: Will the Justice Department file a friend of the court brief? And if so, which side will President Barack H. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder support?
An Arizona man [rancher and former sheriff's deputy Roger Barnett] who has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his property is being sued by 16 Mexican nationals who accuse him of conspiring to violate their civil rights when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border.
(Violating their civil rights? They must have meant violating their civil liberties. Either that, or sixteen illegal aliens are suing Barnett for preventing them from voting in the next Arizona election.)
His Cross Rail Ranch near Douglas, Ariz., is known by federal and county law enforcement authorities as "the avenue of choice" for immigrants seeking to enter the United States illegally.
Trial continues Monday in the federal lawsuit, which seeks $32 million [!] in actual and punitive damages for civil rights violations, the infliction of emotional distress [oh please] and other crimes. Also named are Mr. Barnett's wife, Barbara, his brother, Donald, and Larry Dever, sheriff in Cochise County, Ariz., where the Barnetts live. The civil trial is expected to continue until Friday.
I don't know for sure whether Arizona has citizen's arrest, but I believe it does. If so, then what exactly is Barnett accused of doing? Does the act of citizen's arrest violate the "right" of foreign nationals to cross into the United States illegally? What other rights could they mean?
The lawsuit is based on a March 7, 2004, incident in a dry wash on the 22,000-acre ranch, when he approached a group of illegal immigrants while carrying a gun and accompanied by a large dog.
Attorneys for the immigrants - five women and 11 men who were trying to cross illegally into the United States - have accused Mr. Barnett of holding the group captive at gunpoint, threatening to turn his dog loose on them and saying he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.
Well, yeah; that's why it's called a citizen's "arrest," not a citizen's polite request to stay and wait for the peelers. This sounds pretty normal to me; if the Border Patrol, rather than a private citizen, had done exactly this, would any federal judge allow such a lawsuit to go forward?
Plaintiffs do not accuse Barnett of shooting anyone or even firing a shot, of siccing his dog on anyone (though he warned them that the dog can bite). The illegals retained MALDEF to press their case -- or more likely, MALDEF recruited them to sue Barnett, hoping to get a federal court ruling that Mexican nationals have the "civil right" to:
- Enter the United States without documentation;
- Trespass on private property;
- Rustle cattle;
- Burglarize houses;
- And threaten American citizens who resist any of the above.
MALDEF does claim that Barnett kicked one woman, but I suspect that's an embelishment. In any event, I find it passing strange that a group called the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund is now representing sixteen Mexican Mexicans suing an American American; but I suppose they know which side of the bed is buttered. Evidently, even MALDEF is really all about "la raza."
I have a big question in mind to ask; but before I get to that, I must answer the big question that I know is in the minds of many of you: Has the lizard flipped? Am I reversing myself and turning into a Tancredoite?
Not guilty on both charges. First, my position today is exactly the same as it was a year, even two years ago. I never argued that anyone has the "right" to trespass, commit crimes, or evade arrest, even arrest for illegal entry. What I did argue is twofold: First, that the crime of illegal entry, all by itself, is a minor offense; even buying fraudulent documentation is, in and of itself, a minor crime.
But there are other crimes often committed by illegals that are much more serious, and I have no quarrel with punishing those more severely. Such other crimes include identity theft of a living person (as opposed to getting a false birth certificate in the name of a person who died in infancy), burglary, car theft, and yes, trespassing. I have always agreed that illegals who are convicted of such crimes should be deported -- but only after serving their sentences.
Second, I argued that a fine and payment of back taxes (plus interest and penalties), plus having to start the residency paperwork all over from the beginning, is an acceptable plea bargain (not "amnesty") for illegals who turn themselves in; they shouldn't need to return to their former country. You may disagree; I'm not arguing the point. But it doesn't contradict anything I said above. (And of course I argue we need to fundamentally reform our legal immigration system to make it more rational, predictable, and just; but that's a different topic.)
So no, I haven't joined the ranks of those who savaged the comprehensive immigration bill; neither have I changed my position on what to do about immigration, "guest" workers, and those already here illegally.
Now to the question that interests me: Barack Obama did not campaign on a promise to throw open the borders, nor on the supposition that illegals have any "right" to enter or trespass. In fact, he reassured us that he opposed illegal immigration. And of course he never said he favored eliminating the right of citizens to arrest criminals apprehended in the act and hold them until the police arrive and take the prisoners into custody. So if Obama comes out now in favor of MALDEF and their patsies, it would be a stunning betrayal of the American people -- and catastrophic to his presidency.
But on the other hand, suppose the plaintiffs prevail at this stage on the theory enunciated by MALDEF; and supposed that, although Obama and Holder don't file an amicus curae brief supporting the MALDEF position, the administration also fails to file a brief in defense of an American citizen (and former cop) who has done nothing more than protect his own property and family by apprehending (so he claims) more than 12,000 (!!) illegal aliens and turning them over to the Border Patrol. Even if the administration doesn't throw in with the illegals, if Obama nevertheless abandons Barnett to his fate, I believe the president would have willfully failed to discharge his oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
If the trial results in a defense verdict and MALDEF does not appeal (unlikely), then Obama is off the hook. But if this ends up in federal circuit court -- as I'm certain it will, no matter what the verdict in district court -- and if Obama (a) ducks the issue or (b) backs MALDEF and the illegals, then the GOP should ride this issue into the 2010 election.
And I would then predict they would, in event (a) -- Obama administration ducks the issue -- recapture one or the other chamber of Congress. And in event (b) -- Obama administration sides with the illegal aliens against they American citizen they tried to victimize -- the GOP will win the whole ruddy thing.
Even if Obama arrives at the same calculation, I just don't know whether he has the cojones to buck the open-borders statelessness of the New Left.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 9, 2009, at the time of 6:39 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/3474
The following hissed in response by: Da Coyote
Names and addresses of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, please.
The following hissed in response by: Davod
"Names and addresses of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, please."
Look up Maldef.
There was a similar case a couple of years ago. As recall the farmer did not contest the case and the judge gave the ratbags his farm.
The following hissed in response by: Geoman
Why are they coming here for? We havn't got jobs for them.
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