A former Canyon County
commissioner and vocal foe of illegal immigration says instructors and students
at the University of Idaho Law School are breaking the law by offering free
legal representation to people who face deportation or other immigration
“Federal law states that anyone who aids and abets an
illegal alien in remaining in the United States
is committing a felony,” Robert Vasquez told the Lewiston Tribune.
Monica Schurtman, a UI professor and supervising attorney
for the Tribal Clinic, laughed off Vasquez’s criticism.
“That’s really funny,” she said. “What we try
to do is assist our clients in a well-established legal system to remain
legally in the United States.”
Schurtman said the immigration aspect was added to the
clinic in 2000 when she saw immigration as a growing concern in the state.
“In 2000, it was obvious to me that there was a huge
jump in the immigrant population coming,” Schurtman said. “It’s
something I’ve always been passionate about.”
Vasquez ended a Senate campaign after running out of money,
but said he is considering again challenging U.S. Rep. Bill Sali, R-Idaho.
“If they are a legal alien, and they have committed a
crime, and they have been convicted, then their legal status is revoked and
they’re deported,” Vasquez said. “If they are an illegal alien, they
deserve no representation; they should be apprehended immediately and deported.
How difficult is that to understand?”
Schurtman said an example of the type of work the clinic
does was a Chinese immigrant detained by the Immigration and Naturalization
Service for four years. The Chinese government was after the man for violating China’s
marriage laws by having more than one child.
Arguing before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, UI
students won the case and the man was given political asylum.
“The immigration courts and the immigration board of
appeals told him he had no right to be here,” Schurtman said. “Then,
after four years, he had the right to be here.”
Schurtman said immigration, both legal and illegal, will
likely increase with economic incentives that encourage people to cross
“I think it’s something that people have to start
dealing with,” she said. “As capital is allowed to move without
borders, you’re going to have an increasing number of people who move as if
borders didn’t exist.”
Information from: Lewiston
– Associated Press
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