A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Our Messed Up Immigration System

In Wisconsin, our governor wants to reward illegal immigrants by allowing their children to pay in-state tuition, the number of illegal immigrants has doubled since 1990 to somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000-150,000, and yet we deport Abesha "Bobbie" Zenebe, a productive person, married to a U.S. citizen, because the paperwork for her marriage got filed late. Split a family, the Zenebe's have two children, that tried to do it the right way, while we look the other way on so many other cases.

Another ridiculous example is playing out right now, here in Milwaukee, where Regina Bakala had been detained by federal agents since March. Regina's crime? Trusting her lawyer. Otherwise, she and her family played by the rules, yet she faced imminent deportation to the Congo, where she likely faced torture and even death by the dictatorial government of that country. Fortunately, she was reprieved, at least temporarily, but that doesn't change the fact that our immigration system is a frickin' mess. Absolute mess.

I'm not sure what should be done, but we definitely need to do something as it's current application is arbitrary, often contradictory, and completely out of whack.


You're absolutely right - this is a huge problem, but unfortunately it's also one that politicians seem content to ignore. I believe this is basically a case of nobody wanting to step up and do something about the problem because they're afraid of being "the bad guy". Thus until we get a politician who grows a pair and actually does something about it, the problem will continue to escalate.

Anyway, I saw this article which is related and thought you'd get a kick out of it. It's a perfect example about how big a problem this actually is and how there is no set of universal border control standards - even when dealing with US citizens! (Not to mention that there are no reasonable standards about how illegals are treated once they ARE in the country - it burns me up that they are still allowed to go to public schools, receive public health care, etc. - and nobody seems to be bothered by this!)

Sigh. Anyway, here it is:

Man with a chain saw allowed across border

Associated Press
Jun. 7, 2005 04:45 PM

BOSTON - On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Calais, Maine, carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood. U.S. customs agents confiscated the weapons and fingerprinted Despres.

Then they let him into the United States.

The following day, a gruesome scene was discovered in Despres' hometown of Minto, New Brunswick: The decapitated body of a 74-year-old country musician named Frederick Fulton was found on Fulton's kitchen floor. His head was in a pillowcase under a kitchen table. His common-law wife was discovered stabbed to death in a bedroom.

Despres, 22, immediately became a suspect because of a history of violence between him and his neighbors, and he was arrested April 27 after police in Massachusetts saw him wandering down a highway in a sweat shirt with red and brown stains. He is now in jail in Massachusetts on murder charges, awaiting an extradition hearing next month.

At a time when the United States is tightening its borders, how could a man toting what appeared to be a bloody chain saw be allowed into the country?

Bill Anthony, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the Canada-born Despres could not be detained because he is a naturalized U.S. citizen and was not wanted on any criminal charges on the day in question.

Anthony said Despres was questioned for two hours before he was released. During that time, he said, customs agents employed "every conceivable method" to check for warrants or see if Despres had broken any laws in trying to re-enter the country.

"Nobody asked us to detain him," Anthony said. "Being bizarre is not a reason to keep somebody out of this country or lock them up. ... We are governed by laws and regulations, and he did not violate any regulations."

Anthony conceded it "sounds stupid" that a man wielding what appeared to be a bloody chain saw could not be detained. But he added: "Our people don't have a crime lab up there. They can't look at a chain saw and decide if it's blood or rust or red paint."

Sgt. Gary Cameron of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would not comment on whether it was, in fact, blood on the chain saw.

On the same day Despres crossed the border, he was due in a Canadian court to be sentenced on charges he assaulted and threatened to kill Fulton's son-in-law, Frederick Mowat, last August.

Mowat told police Despres had been bothering his father-in-law for the past month. When Mowat confronted him, Despres allegedly pulled a knife, pointed it at Mowat's chest and said he was "going to get you all."

Police believe the dispute between the neighbors boiled over in the early-morning hours of April 24, when Despres allegedly broke into Fulton's home and stabbed to death the musician and 70-year-old Veronica Decarie.

Fulton's daughter found her father's body two days later. His car was later found in a gravel pit on a highway leading to the U.S. border. Despres hitchhiked to the border crossing.

After the bodies were found on the afternoon of April 26, police set up roadblocks and sent out a bulletin that identified Despres as a "person of interest" in the slayings, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The bulletin caught the eye of a Quincy police dispatcher because it gave the suspect's Massachusetts driver's license number, missing a character. The dispatcher plugged in numbers and letters until she found a last known address for Despres in Mattapoisett. She alerted police in that town, and an officer quickly spotted Despres.

In state court the next day, Despres told a judge that he is affiliated with NASA and was on his way to a Marine Corps base in Kansas at the time of his arrest.

After the case was transferred to federal court, Despres' attorney, Michael Andrews, questioned whether his client is mentally competent.

Fulton's friends in Minto, a village of 2,700 people, told the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal that he was a popular musician, a guitarist known as the "Chet Atkins of Minto" and a 2001 inductee in the Minto Country Music Wall of Fame.

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