Giuliani Comments On Illegal Immigration Create Frenzy

There's a frenzy building in the blogosphere over comments made by Rudy Giuliani about illegal immigration on the Glenn Beck radio show. Here's the pertinent passage:

GLENN: Right. But isn't illegal immigration a crime in and of itself?

GIULIANI: No.

GLENN: Aren't you saying --

GIULIANI: Glenn --

GLENN: You're protecting criminals by saying that being treated as a criminal is unfair.

GIULIANI: Glenn, it's not a crime. I know that's very hard for people to understand, but it's not a federal crime.

GLENN: It's a misdemeanor but if you've been nailed, it is a crime. If you've been nailed, ship back and come back, it is a crime.

GIULIANI: Glenn, being an illegal immigrant, the 400,000 were not prosecuted for crimes by the federal government, nor could they be. I was U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York. So believe me, I know this. In fact, when you throw an immigrant out of the country, it's not a criminal proceeding. It's a civil proceeding.

GLENN: Is it --

GIULIANI: One of the things that congress wanted to do a year ago is to make it a crime, which indicates that it isn't.

GLENN: Should it be?

GIULIANI: Should it be? No, it shouldn't be because the government wouldn't be able to prosecute it. We couldn't prosecute 12 million people. We have only 2 million people in jail right now for all the crimes that are committed in the country, 2.5 million. If you were to make it a crime, you would have to take the resources of the criminal justice system and increase it by about 6. In other words, you'd have to take all the 800,000 police, and who knows how many police we would have to have.

GLENN: So what's your solution?

GIULIANI: My solution is close the border to illegal immigration.

GLENN: How do you do that?

GIULIANI: You do that by building a fence, a physical fence and a technological fence, and the technological fence is more important than the physical fence. The technological fence would alert you to illegals approaching the border well in advance so the border patrol can get there and stop them. You deploy the border patrol every 50 miles along the border. I've already outlined this on a map. I did this in detail about two weeks ago. And then you have the border patrol stop people from coming in, literally stop them from coming in. If you did that for a year or two, you would end it. You also have a tamperproof ID card that every person from a foreign country should have that comes into the United States. The goal has to be, yes, you're allowed to come to the United States but you have to identify yourself before we let you in, and we have to be sure you're a safe person. And then if you come in, you'll be in the computer base, you'll be able to work, you will have to pay your fair share, you'll have to pay taxes but we have to end it right at the border by having the resources to stop people from just walking into this country and not identifying themselves. Only the federal government can do this. If the federal government doesn't do this, there is no way that the local governments in this country can handle it other than in a practical way. If you make people that are just going to be here for the next 20 years, if you put them in a situation of danger and risk, you're going to have more crime in your communities.


Okay, I'm no lawyer (and I'm hoping Glenn Reynolds or the boys at Volokh chime in) but it seems like what he's saying is that talking about immigration laws is a waste of time because we couldn't possible enforce them all with open borders...so we need to first close the borders with a physical and technological fence and then go from there. That may be a generous take and I admit to being a Rudy guy, but it seems to me that elements of the conservative base are just looking for a reason to scuttle Rudy. They're mad he's not saying in a booming voice, "no more illegal immigration!" and instead is hitting us with legal facts. Is he right on the law?

UPDATE: American Pundit seems to agree my position on this.