if we don’t deport natives who are criminals, why do we deport immigrant criminals?
I’m a hard core supporter of open borders, the view that we should let people travel peacefully across borders. However, for many years, I agreed with the restrictionist view that it is appropriate to deport criminals. And not those who violate unjust immigration “laws.” I thought that deportation was appropriate for those convicted of actual crimes against people, like assault or theft.
I have come to question this view after I realized that we don’t deport native born criminals. This observation made me to think about why we don’t deport native born criminals. I can think of four very persuasive reasons:
- Deportation is an extremely harsh punishment that is not appropriate for most crimes. If you steal a car, you may deserve a few months in prison. You don’t deserve to be sent to a country where you don’t know people, where you have to start over from scratch, and, in some cases, where you might be killed.
- Restitution is unlikely. That is, if part of the reason we put people in prison is to “pay back” the victims or the state, then it makes no sense to deport them. The penal system has no way to collect fines or money for victims if the criminal has been deported.
- No rehabilitation. If you believe that criminals have the potential to be rehabilitated, then deportation prevents people from the chance to show improvement. If you deport them after they have served time and they have been rehabilitated, then it undermines the impulse for rehabilitation.
- Harm to friends and relatives: Criminals have spouses, children, and friends. It is bad enough to have a parent spend time in prison. It is much, much worse to have them sent to another country. Perhaps criminals deserve the punishment and humiliation of prison and deportation but their children don’t.
I also think there is a “spill over effect” of deportation. Enemies of immigrants will expand the scope of deportable offenses if they know that criminal convictions allow the state to deport people.
To sum it up: Deportation is cruel, prevents rehabilitation, prevents restitution, and creates negative externalities. So make them do the time and move on with their lives.