Debra J. Saunders

I don't understand, I tell his wife, Joanna Truitt of Stockton, Calif., over the phone, how Matute could not have understood the consequences of his crimes and conviction. Truitt tells me she was in court with Matute and what he heard was "legal mumbo jumbo."

And: "I am not saying he is not accountable at all for his answer. Please don't say I'm saying that. I am saying that the system is really flawed. It's like fast food."

Truitt also tells me that Matute changed after their 2-year-old son was born.

The 2005 burglary charge? Not quite what you'd think. Deputy Attorney General Allan Yannow explained that court documents show two counts of commercial burglary involving someone else's checks being used at Albertson's and Target. If Matute had completed his probation, he would not have been deported.

Possession of a stolen car in 2006? According to the preliminary hearing transcript, Yannow noted, Matute was found with a stolen car in which police found hypodermic needles, a fake license plate, baggies with narcotics residue and someone else's checkbook.

Did he have a job? Yes, Truitt said, but he got it without presenting a green card. In fact, she said, "I'm the one who pushed him, 'Go get your green card.'"

Immigration officials tell me that they see many cases of legal immigrants reapplying for their green , unaware that, while they may have dodged deportation at the time of sentencing, if their applications reveal convictions for aggravated felonies (that is, involving sentences of more than one year) or crimes of moral turpitude, they will land in the sights of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As a result, there is now a cottage industry of attorneys who specialize in post-conviction appeals for legal immigrants. Oh joy, their success could mean more retrials for convicted criminals.

Back to Matute. If you can't get a guy to consider the consequences and stay away from stolen cars while on probation after a judge talks to him about the likely fallout, what do you do?

Politicians who talk up immigration "reform" always promise background checks because the American public has little desire to import criminals. Well, this is what a background check looks like. Except that after Washington passes laws to give the public what they want, activists use the courts to try to grind the system to a near halt.

Vallandigham complained that federal law "sees the world in black and white and not shades of gray." But that is what the law is -- drawing lines. And if it's all gray, you end up with all legal argument, no order.

Debra J. Saunders

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