The argument that undocumented workers are criminals is a tired one that does nothing to bring us to an amicable solution in this debate. All it does is serve to demonize and vilify those immigrants that do not have proper documentation but are otherwise contributing to our society. If breaking a law makes you a criminal then this not only a country of immigrants, but also a country of criminals.
Traveling with my brother the other day I saw a man drop his cigarette butt onto the road from his new SUV. This made me think about the question of who is a criminal and what makes you one. By the law this man has committed the crime of littering. However, of course though, he’ll never be caught or prosecuted. Does not being caught exonerate him from being a criminal? Or is he now forever a criminal because he’s broken the law? This man knew that littering is a crime, but he chose to break that law anyway. So how is his disregard for the law (and the beauty of of country) any different than a person entering this country illegally for a chance at a better life. Well, for one, his act was simply reprehensible and only served to make this country an ugly litter-filled place while at least an immigrant is coming here to contribute.
So both the undocumented worker and the littering citizen are both criminals and so are all the countless people that chose to speed down our highways in spite of our safety and all those people that talk on their cell phones while driving and those kind souls that spit on the sidewalk. Here’s a Metafilter question where many people give their thoughts on the issue of commonly broken laws by “non-criminals.” (link)
It doesn’t take a non-citizen to disregard our laws; we all do it everyday. The only laws that the majority of us will never break are those involving violent crime and this is no different for undocumented immigrants. Coming into this country without proper documentation or overstaying your visa does not make you a criminal in the general sense of the term. Because if it does then we’re all criminals and we should stop throwing stones and start obeying the law.