Consequently, by 1996, roughly half a million deportable criminal aliens were happily residing in the United States, committing new crimes and having illegitimate children -- whom the criminals would then cite as "family" to avoid deportation. Just a few years ago, a California congressman stated that "in Los Angeles County, more than half of incarcerated illegal aliens are rearrested within one year."
At the rate the INS was deporting criminal aliens, it would have taken 23 years to deport all the criminal aliens living in the United States -- assuming no immigrant ever committed another felony. (Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper than reading the ACLU's press release to get the all facts.)
What the 1996 law did was reduce the copious "review" for orders of deportation entered against convicted criminals. The criminal conviction itself was still subject to every pointless, dilatory tactic permitted felons who are U.S. citizens. But the order of deportation could no longer be gamed to avoid deportation without end.
The AP insanely claimed that the "legal question basically boils down to this: Do immigrants living in the United States legally but without citizenship have the same rights in federal courts as U.S. citizens?" Um, actually, we don't need the Supreme Court to answer that. You just need to think about it for two seconds to realize -- the answer is no. Immigrants can be deported. Citizens -- even extremely undesirable citizens like reporters -- can't be.
The only question before the Supreme Court is whether Congress really meant to limit the number of time-consuming administrative and court hearings that could be demanded by criminal aliens before the INS deports them.
Also straight from the ACLU Web site, the Times and AP recount various sob stories about harmless felons about to be deported under a cruel and heartless law. Typically the criminal offense is described as a "minor drug charge" committed many years ago on a dare.
News stories about criminals of any sort always have to be read like Manhattan real estate ads. If an elevator is not mentioned, it's a fifth-floor walk-up. If the ad does not expressly say "grt vu," the apartment looks onto a brick wall. If it doesn't state "bathtub," there isn't one.
The ACLU's lead plaintiff -- the man the ACLU chose for their test case to challenge the law -- is one Enrico St. Cyr. According to the Times, Enrico "entered the United States legally in 1986 but was convicted of a drug charge early in 1996." You can search the entire Lexis-Nexis archive and you won't get more information than that on Enrico's crime.
In fact, despite his notable accomplishment of having "entered the United States legally," Enrico is a major narcotics trafficker. He was already serving time on one drug trafficking charge when he was sentenced to 10 years on another.
But you'd have to look beyond the ACLU press release to know that.