Flashback: When Calif. Senator Claimed Breaking the Law Isn't a Crime


One of the more Orwellian “newspeak” terms often bandied about by liberals is the phrase “undocumented immigrant” over “illegal alien” to describe foreign individuals in the United States without permission.

This is commonly used by open-borders advocates in an effort to obscure the simple fact that foreigners in the country without permission are here in violation of the law, hence they are “illegal.”

Democrat California Sen. Kamala Harris — who previously served as the state’s attorney general and is thought to be a potential 2020 presidential candidate — is one of those who uses that liberal phrase often, and has actually taken it a step further on multiple occasions to ludicrously claim that an “undocumented immigrant is not a criminal.”

You can see one such example of her making that patently false assertion in April 2017 right here:

GOP Senator Gets Big Win After Months-Long Stand-Off with Schumer

Harris followed that tweet with another which demanded a “path to citizenship” for the illegal immigrants who were “living a lawful life and paying taxes.”

According to the tweet-trackers at Twitchy, Harris received a bit of an education in the comments on her post — not that she would listen or learn — as people corrected her mistaken terminology, pointed out that entering the country illegally was in fact a “crime” and questioned how someone who was “undocumented” could possess the necessary documentation to legally hold a job and pay taxes.

The “fact-checkers” at The Washington Post took note of Harris’ tweet and pointed out that she had made the same statement in prior tweets, as well as in her maiden speech on the Senate floor and in numerous speeches on the campaign trail in 2016.

The Post delved into the semantics of the terminology used by Harris and asserted that according to U.S. law and Supreme Court precedent, the mere act of being in the country illegally didn’t constitute a “criminal” violation but was instead a “civil” violation.

Do you think individuals residing in the country illegally are criminals?

That said, they did report that “undocumented” immigrants who entered the country without permission, re-entered after having been previously removed or had falsified documents in order to enter or remain in the country had indeed violated “criminal” statutes and would have committed a “crime.”

The Post further provided a few explanatory quotes from Harris and a spokesperson that also played on the semantics between “civil” and “criminal” violations of the laws, but in actuality danced around the topic without fully addressing it.

However, David Bier, an immigration policy expert from the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, summed up what some view as a “distinction without a difference” between the various immigration violations.

“If you’re looking at it from the pure legalistic perspective, then she is right to some extent, that simply being here without legal status is not a crime. It doesn’t make you a criminal,” Bier said. “But many undocumented immigrants have committed criminal violations of immigration law, and there’s nothing wrong with pointing that out.”

An opponent of illegal immigration, David Ray of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, took a bit more hard-lined of a view on Harris’ statement about “undocumented” immigrants not being “criminals.”

Damning Details of Democrat Senator's Corruption Case Released... Remember What He Said About Trump?

“All illegal aliens have broken the law — that is undisputable,” Ray said. “Unlawful border crossings are criminal offenses: misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony for repeat offenders. While overstaying a visa is a civil offense under immigration law, those who do it still break the law and are subject to removal.”

In the end, despite what likely started as a valiant effort to support and defend the statement by Harris, even The Post was compelled to grant her statement two “Pinocchios” — which equate to “Significant omissions and/or exaggerations” — and concluded that she had violated the “reasonable-person standard,” in that “The technical distinctions she makes are not immediately clear without additional context, especially to the layman who doesn’t understand the intricacies and nuances of criminal and immigration law.”

In other words, she didn’t tell the full truth, or more simply stated … she lied, and many “undocumented” immigrants are in fact “illegal” and “criminal aliens,” as per U.S. immigration laws she has purportedly sworn to uphold and defend.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , , ,
Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
The School of Life
Little Rock, Arkansas
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise