Two Strikes And You’re In? New Immigration Bill Leads To Questions Over Treatment Of Cases With Two Prior Forged Passports

190px-Us-passport190px-Us-passportThere has been considerable criticism of the fact that the massive new immigration bill seems to be something of a mystery to even sponsors who have indicated that they have either not read it entirely or even know many of its provisions. This seems a new fact of life for Congress — something we saw with the Patriot Act where many members admitted they never read before voting to curtail civil liberties. There remains a huge debate in the country over the fairness of allowing millions to apply for citizenship after knowingly entering the country illegally while others wait in other countries. Others insist that this is dealing with a difficult problem in a humane way and is good for the economy and good for the GOP. Putting aside those sweeping issues, I was struck by one provision of the law that deals with people who have forged two passports or sold false passports.

When asked, sponsor Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) actually said that he knew of no such provision, but it seems to still be in the bill below. Here is the language:

“any person who, during any period of 3 years or less, knowingly – (1) and without lawful authority produces, issues, or transfers 3 or more passports; (2) forges, counterfeits, alters, or falsely makes 3 or more passports; (3) secures, possesses, uses, receives, buys, sells, or distributes 3 or more passports, knowing the passports to be forged, counterfeited, altered, falsely made, stolen, procured by fraud, or produced or issued without lawful authority; or (4) completes, mails, prepares, presents, signs, or submits 3 or more applications for a United States passport, knowing the applications to contain any materially false statement or representation, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20  years, or both.”

That language passed the Senate with 68 votes but what does it mean in cases of two prior forgeries? That would be quite astonishing given the post-9-11 prosecutions for anyone falsifying passports and other documents.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) acknowledged that the applicant could have forged or sold forged passports but stated that such crimes could be treated as one or multiple forgeries. He insisted “it simply gives flexibility because “you give prosecutors a certain amount of discretion, you have two or three different crimes you have committed, so then it’s [up to] prosecutorial discretion which one they will charge. I mean, I spent eight years as a prosecutor. One of things you learn [is] the importance of that.” I am confused by why the provision is included since such forgeries are already a crime. Title 18, Section 1541 of the U.S. Code provides for imprisonment up to 25 years for such acts. Here is the language:

Whoever, acting or claiming to act in any office or capacity under the United States, or a State, without lawful authority grants, issues, or verifies any passport or other instrument in the nature of a passport to or for any person whomsoever; or
Whoever, being a consular officer authorized to grant, issue, or verify passports, knowingly and willfully grants, issues, or verifies any such passport to or for any person not owing allegiance, to the United States, whether a citizen or not—
Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 25 years (if the offense was committed to facilitate an act of international terrorism (as defined in section 2331 of this title)), 20 years (if the offense was committed to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (as defined in section 929 (a) of this title)), 10 years (in the case of the first or second such offense, if the offense was not committed to facilitate such an act of international terrorism or a drug trafficking crime), or 15 years (in the case of any other offense), or both.
For purposes of this section, the term “State” means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.

This would at a minimum suggest that it would be punished at a lower level, but I am not sure of how it fits with the application of the immigrant. Notably, the 25 year provision is for terrorism. It is 15 years for other offenses.

The new law seems at a minimum to suggest that two cases of selling false passports would fall under that level of punishment for 25 years. The question is how we handle people who falsified documents like passports in applying under the new law. Is anyone familiar with the law on that point? For example, if an illegal immigrant completed false documents or bought them, would they still be able to apply? If so, what happens to Section 1541 in such cases?

Clearly, it is no barrier to citizenship to have violated immigration laws by illegally entering or illegally remaining in the country. However, does the new law extend to affirmative acts of forgery? The law is obviously designed to excuse some immigration offenses the question is what is included in such offenses committed to continue to live and work illegally in the country and how those provisions then relate to the criminal code.

Here is the bill: S 744_0

23 thoughts on “Two Strikes And You’re In? New Immigration Bill Leads To Questions Over Treatment Of Cases With Two Prior Forged Passports”

  1. The existing immigration laws aren’t being enforced, so what good are more immigration laws going to do, This administration only enforces the laws it wants to, which is bull$hit.

  2. “(3) secures, possesses, uses, receives, buys, sells, or distributes”

    I don’t understand the statement:
    “Clearly, it is no barrier to citizenship to have violated immigration laws by illegally entering or illegally remaining in the country. However, does the new law extend to affirmative acts of forgery? The law is obviously designed to excuse some immigration offenses the question is what is included in such offenses committed to continue to live and work illegally in the country and how those provisions then relate to the criminal code.”

    The Federal law as it is written seems to be particular to an agent of the federal or state government or falsely claims such authority.

    The new law as it is written applies more broadly to consumers as well as suppliers of such documents. The use of a false passport falls under the new law.

    I don’t think it’s a particularly good policy to have a law which can, by arresting users of false passports, simply add to the prison population if prosecutors want to do that. I don’t see any information in the new law as written that constitutes “no barrier to citizenship.”

    Maybe someone can enlighten me.

  3. Two forged passports? Are you kidding me? American citizens get into more trouble trying to vote with the wrong ID. I guess the corporations really want all the money and imported workers they are dying for. By the way did ALEC write this bill?

    The alleged immigration “reform” bill is nothing but another corporate give away. It has little to do with immigration or human needs.

  4. At the end of the day. everyone in both wings of the Property party will
    profit from the on-going OVER-population that started many years ago. Everyone, except the middle and lower classes that will bear the costs
    of the consequences of our nation’s immigration policies.

  5. Gene,
    I think you should reconsider your weasel label. Weasels are much more useful than most of these guys!

  6. clearly Jon wasn”t him self during that period of time. so basically you want to punish him by taking everything he has ever loved away from him. I have known Jon for 27 years,yes he has made a lot of mistakes but haven’t we all.WHY on earth would anyone ever want to get clean when this is what you do. I think a lot of the comments are from people who are jealous of him.Give the man a break. Jon has always had a passion for law.Give the man a break.

  7. Gene H. 1, July 19, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    OConnor, Eileen,

    We have no control on removing you from the email list once you’ve followed. That is entirely in WordPress’ control. You may file a trouble ticket and/or search their forums for an answer here: http://www.wordpress.org/support/
    =========================
    A genuine bureaucracy in the making.

  8. Paul,

    Thanks, but I do want to assure you that no insult to actual weasels or any other member of the genus Mustela was intended.

  9. Gene H. Excellent response, especially…”Ya bunch of malfeasing graft weasels.”

  10. So, just be sure the forger is a very good one…. Then they’ll never know…. 2 huh…. 3 strikes you’re still within reason….. I presume….

  11. The last amnesty bill had a provision in it that literally gave amnesty for ALL cimes committed in entering the US illegally. That meant that if one killed a BP agent while entering the US, they got a free pass on that crime. Unfortunately, the whole thrust of this bill is to excuse most crimes that the rest of us would go to prison for committing. Things like perjury, fraud, ID theft, SS fraud, welfare fraud, forgery, etc.. are all fogiven under most amnesty bills which is why though they may not grant a complete amnesty for being here illegally, they do grant amnesty for hundred of crimes.

    My wife had her SS number stolen by an illegal, and I got a nasty letter from the IRS asking why I had filed a fraudulent tax return in not declaring income listed under my wifes SS number. The name attached to it was a Hispanic male name. I told them that I was not gay and same sex marriage was still not legal in Texas. I called the SS admin to get the persons address and number, but was told that it was to protect the privacy of the crook that they could not give me or any law enforcement agencies that info. I am glad to see that at least some part of our government is protecting somebody’s privacy. Unfortunately, it is the crooks and illegals, and to hell with US citizens.

  12. OConnor, Eileen,

    We have no control on removing you from the email list once you’ve followed. That is entirely in WordPress’ control. You may file a trouble ticket and/or search their forums for an answer here: http://www.wordpress.org/support/

  13. Please please please remove me from these emails. I can’t do so via automated system because of the apostophe in my email address. Thank you

  14. Not to fear citizens … Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has introduced three amendments that would tighten criminal laws that are being weakened in the comprehensive immigration bill being debated by the Senate. Passport fraud is addressed in the 2nd of those three amendments.

    According to Senator Grassley: “The underlying (immigration) bill includes a number of changes to existing criminal law that waters down these serious crimes and encourages foreign nationals to unlawfully enter or reenter the United States, or commit passport fraud. The Grassley amendment would reinstate current law for these provisions ensuring we do not create a situation where we support illegal entry and document fraud.”

    http://www.grassley.senate.gov/news/Article.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1502=46288

  15. All this says is that forging 3+ passports is a crime. it doesn’t say anything about it being okay to forge <3 passports.

  16. If our military ever goes the way of Egypt’s military it will be easy for them to get rid of the congress –if the popularity of congress is any indicator.

    They may be bringing more upon themselves than they realize.

  17. This just goes to show that Congress doesn’t do their job. They not only don’t write most of the laws anymore, they don’t bother to read them before they vote on them. I say it’s time to get back to work doing, oh I don’t know, actual legislative work as is your job description in the Constitution instead of kissing lobbyist and high dollar campaign contributor butt all day. Ya bunch of malfeasing graft weasels.

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