Illegal alien wins, justice loses in bizarre Montana lawsuit

The topsy-turvy world of American jurisprudence sent heads spinning again Wednesday when a federal judge ruled that a Montana judge had erred by reporting an illegal immigrant to the sheriff’s office.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Susan Watters ruled that Yellowstone County Justice of the Peace Pedro Hernandez and a sheriff’s deputy violated the man’s civil rights because they did not know if the man was a criminal when they detained him.

“Although unlawful presence may indicate an immigration crime was committed, such as illegal entry, unlawful presence can also result from noncriminal conduct such as overstaying a visa,” U.S. District Judge Susan Watters wrote in her Wednesday order in a lawsuit against the judge and deputy. “Suspicion of unlawful presence does not, without more, provide a basis to detain or arrest someone because it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States.”

This is absurd liberal ideology disguised as law. Face it: Under this theory, there can be no Homeland Security at all.

The facts are these: Construction worker Miguel Angel Reynaga Hernandez was with his wife at the Billings courthouse in October 2017. She was seeking a civil protection order against another person who told Judge Hernandez that Reynaga was not a legal citizen. On the basis of that, the judge “called for a county sheriff’s deputy, Derrek Skinner, who detained Reynaga and brought him to the county jail. Reynaga was later turned over to federal custody.”

It could not be more straightforward. Judge Hernandez either could have told the deputy or he could have ignored the law. He could not do both, and ignoring the law should never be an option for a judge or an officer of the court.

But now Reynaga is suing the judge for violating his rights — which he should not have in the first place! If being in the country illegally is not reasonable suspicion that someone has committed a crime, then the law is (as Charles Dickens put it most memorably) “a ass.” And if overstaying one’s visa is not a crime, then U.S. immigration law is “a big fat ass.”

Of course, we already knew that.

Reynaga was eventually released and deportation proceedings against him dismissed under orders from an immigration judge in Tacoma, Washington. He remains in Billings, said attorney Matt Adams with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. The Seattle-based group sued on behalf of Reynaga last year seeking monetary damages.

So at this point, a retired judge (Hernandez left office in 2017 shortly after this incident) and a sheriff’s deputy are on the hook for damages while the illegal alien is looking to get rich over his blatant violation of American law.

You tell me what’s wrong with this picture.

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Frank Miele writes from Kalispell, Montana, at and is a columnist at Real Clear Politics. To support my work, please consider buying my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy, which documents the downward spiral of the USA before Trump arrived on the scene. The books are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. 

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