Ask a Cop

Illustration: Steve Thueson

Dear Cop,

I have a friend who’s an undocumented citizen. The thing is, he’s a better American than anyone I know—got good grades in school, went to college (and paid his own way ‘cause contrary to the popular belief, undocumented citizens DON’T get any government benefits, including federal financial aid, whether they pay taxes or not), doesn’t break any laws, and is a contributing member of the community. Can you explain to me how someone like him would end up deported back to Mejico? He lives in constant fear that this might happen—that he’ll get pulled over one day for a minor traffic violation, or that ICE will raid his place of employment—maybe even his home—and take him away. Is this a possibility? Don’t give me some bullshit answer about how he needs to just apply for citizenship, ‘cause that’s a 10-plus year process that’s both expensive and subjective. I just want to put his mind at ease, ‘cause I heard that only gang bangers and drug dealers REALLY get deported.

Your amigo,

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Dear Harry,

Yes, I deal with undocumented residents every day, but I deal with those associated with violent crime: drug dealing, wife beating, DUI, assault, that sort of thing—not illegal-entry crime, which is the crux of your issue.

Your friend needs an immigration lawyer, although you didn’t want me to tell you that. However, let me assuage some of your friend’s fears: The kind of cops who stop people for traffic violations aren’t la migra police. He’ll get a ticket and be on his way. Now, if he doesn’t pay the ticket, and it goes to warrant, he could have some problems, but it’s doubtful, even then. Also, I doubt he’s an ICE target at home or at work. Undocumented residents committing nasty drug and violent crimes get ICE attention. Having said that, I do remember some political raids at plants up north recently, predominantly employing undocumented residents, which resulted in many legit (those employed in legal endeavors) workers being deported. You never know when some politician wants to make a “tough on illegal immigration” statement at the expense of undocumented residents employed in legitimate enterprises. They’re a lot easier to find and deport than undocumented, violent offenders.

However, if he wants to live in the USA without any worry, he has to become legal. Every day, the U.S. Gov’t receives numerous requests from Mexican nationals for asylum. These people profess that because of their involvement in drug dealing in Mexico and the drug war and killings between cartels, if they don’t get into the USA, they’ll be killed. Maybe that’s an option for him, but he’d have to go to Mexico and traffic drugs, piss off the other cartel, and then run for the border, screaming for asylum. It does sound exciting, and offers numerous potential book and movie deals, if he survives. If that isn’t his fancy, he could try starting with a legit work visa. He’d have to apply as if he were in Mexico, or actually return and apply legitimately. Then, once he’s here legally, he’d be in a much better position—including financially—to legally pursue a permanent life in the USA.

He needs a lawyer, even if you think that’s a bullshit answer, and even if it takes 10 years. In 10 years, he could still be undocumented and living in fear, or finishing the process of citizenship.

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