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September 24, 2007

Tennessee Idiocy on Illegal Immigrant Rights Continues

A few weeks ago I shared the news that immigrants have no rights in this country, according to a Tennessee county judge. Now, the Blount County Commission follows Judge Young into idiocy. I'll explain, but first let me catch you up.

The details are still a little unclear about what happened in Judge Dale Young's courtroom on September 7th. We know that Ana Calixto was seeking an order of protection from her husband when Judge Young dismissed her petition. Calixto and the husband are in the middle of divorce proceedings and Calixto claims to have filed reports of domestic violence in the past.

Then things get a little murky. Calixto and unnamed witnesses claim that Young asked her and her husband what their immigration status was before telling her to "Go back to Nicaragua" and kicking her case out of court. Calixto claims to be here legally with TPS status, having received her most recent DHS approval on August 8. Since no one's mentioned the husband except to say he's from Mexico, I think it's reasonable to assume that he's here illegally.

These claims are being met with silence from the judge and his office. Apparently, it was standard practice not to have a transcript of proceedings in Judge Young's courtroom, so no record of what was said exists.

Last week, the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary began an investigation into Judge Young's conduct. The Court of the Judiciary investigates and disciplines judges for misconduct on the bench. The start of an investigation shouldn't be viewed as proof of wrongdoing, but it does emphasize that this type of thing is taken seriously, at least when it makes the papers.

Here's where the Blount County Commission shamefully misses the point and perpetuates the idiocy of Judge Young. At their regular meeting last week, the commissioners voted on a motion to endorse Judge Young’s refusal to hear Calixto's petition. That motion has been "tabled" for the time being, but for all the wrong reasons:

“I want to personally commend his stand,” Samples said, adding that he had heard her legal status was in doubt. “She did not meet the test of law ... My stand is that is a question about illegal immigration. Judge Young stands for what the majority of Blount Countians stand for.”

Commissioner Wendy Pitts Reeves, who talked about working with victims of domestic violence in her job as a counselor, said she understood there are strong feelings about illegal immigration in the county, but that, to her knowledge, Ana Calixto was a legal resident.

Until I see otherwise, I can’t support this,” Reeves said. “The newspaper said she was a legal resident.”
...
“While I support Judge Young’s decision, it’s hard for me to vote on anything when I don’t have all the facts,” [Commissioner] French said.

If she’s not an illegal immigrant, I can’t support this,” [Commissioner] Murrell said.

All of these people miss what should be obvious: a person's immigration status is irrelevant for purposes of determining standing to seek an order of protection. It is similarly irrelevant for purposes of making civil suits or seeking other judicial remedies.

Assuming for a minute that Calixto is an illegal immigrant (as unlikely as that may be), do these people actually think that illegals can get no protection from the courts? Is a victim of domestic abuse to be left out in the cold because she's an illegal? I doubt very much that the "majority of Blount Countians" would support prohibiting a victim of domestic abuse from seeking protection from the courts. Can that be true?

I'm curious how far these people think we can stretch their newfound relegation of illegals to subhuman standards of justice? If I assault an illegal immigrant, do you think they'll prevent the illegal from suing me for damages? What if I enslave one?


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:48 PM

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