Can­ing in Sin­ga­pore, la­bor camps in Rus­sia

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Jump­ing the bor­der in Sin­ga­pore is pun­ish­able by six months in prison — and not less than three strokes with a cane.

In Rus­sia, it can earn you up to two years in a prison la­bor camp.

Pak­istan goes as high as 10 years in prison, while In­dia al­lows for up to eight years be­hind bars for those who sneak across its bound­aries.

It’s a far cry from the U.S., where il­le­gal en­try is a mis­de­meanor, with a max­i­mum of six months in jail. In real­ity, most of those who are pros­e­cuted — and only about 1 in 5 bor­der jumpers are — are sen­tenced to time served and are out within days.

The U.S. has one of the world’s weaker laws for il­le­gal en­try, ac­cord­ing to the data in a study by the Li­brary of Congress, which sur­veyed statutes in more than 160 na­tions and re­leased its find­ings amid a heated de­bate over whether Amer­ica’s penal­ties are too stiff.

The de­bate is be­ing driven by the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, some of whom have ar­gued that the U.S. should elim­i­nate the crim­i­nal penalty al­to­gether.

The data shows that’s a bad idea, said Jes­sica Vaughan, pol­icy stud­ies direc­tor at the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, which ad­vo­cates for stricter im­mi­gra­tion con­trols.

“Il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion is a crime in al­most ev­ery na­tion be­cause reg­u­lat­ing im­mi­gra­tion is key to main­tain­ing na­tional sovereignt­y and iden­tity, and cit­i­zens and lead­ers of ev­ery na­tion place a high value on that,” Ms. Vaughan said. “There are good rea­sons why al­most ev­ery other coun­try in the world has sim­i­lar crim­i­nal penal­ties, and we shouldn’t flog peo­ple over it, but we do need the tools of ar­rest and de­ten­tion to deal with the prob­lem.”

In the U.S., il­le­gal en­try is crim­i­nal­ized un­der 8 US Code Sec­tion 1325, “im­proper en­try by alien,” which calls for a fine or im­pris­on­ment of up to six months, or both. Do­ing it a sec­ond time can earn a two-year sen­tence.

That is in ad­di­tion to the civil penalty for be­ing in the coun­try with­out au­tho­riza­tion, for which the re­sult is de­por­ta­tion.

Those poli­cies are in line with laws in Canada and the United King­dom, which also im­pose six-month max­i­mum sen­tences on il­le­gal en­try, but, like the U.S., usu­ally just de­port bor­der jumpers in­stead.

A dozen other coun­tries — in­clud­ing Ice­land, Jor­dan and Gu­atemala — also have max­i­mum six-month sen­tences, the Li­brary of Congress re­ported.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Migrants who cross the U.S. bor­der il­le­gally face light pun­ish­ment com­pared with those who sneak into coun­tries such as Sin­ga­pore, whose pol­icy can lead to six months in prison and can­ing.

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