The bill doesn't say this, though. The pertinant section is 202(C), which reads thus:
[Whoever] assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States [shall be imprisoned for up to 5 years].
Now, lots of people read this, and they only look at part of the first line, and think "if I assist an illegal immigrant, I'll go to jail -- that's horrible!" But the text doesn't say that. It says if a person"assists [the illegal immigrant] to reside in or remain in the United States," with the knowledge that this person is an illegal (or with "reckless disregard" for that fact, which is legalese for "you know it, but nobody ever actually says it so that you can later deny having known"), he or she will go to jail. Feeding someone is not, in any reasonable reading of the law, "assisting a person to remain" in a place. That's assisting them to live, which is entirely different. If you give an illegal immigrant a house, or let him live in your basement, or give him forged documents, or give him a job, or take some other positive action to facilitate his evasion of the law, THEN you are violating the provision of this act. Giving a man a sandwhich isn't any of that.
This provision rests upon the fact that illegal immigration is a crime (that's why it's "illegal"). And surely we're all at least vaguely familiar with the concept of being an accessory to a crime, which is more or less what the crimes of facilitating illegal immigration are. So consider an analogy. Bob decides to rob a bank. He asks his friend Joe to take him to the bank, which he then robs. Joe sees Bob rob the bank, and when Bob runs out, he lets him get in and zooms off, even though he didn't know when they got there that Bob was going to rob the bank. Joe and Bob are hungry, and so they stop at a McDonald's on their way out of town. Jimmy serves them each a Big Mac, and then they leave.
In this scenario, who commits a crime? 1) Bob commits a crime -- bank robbery. 2) Joe commits a crime -- being an accessory after the fact to bank robbery. 3) Jimmy does NOT commit a crime -- his serving hamburgers, and Jim and Bob's eating of those hamburgers, are completely unrelated to the act of committing and fleeing from a bank robbery; also, Jimmy serves hamburgers to anyone who comes in and orders one -- he does not make presumptions about his customers, and it would be absurd for him to say to every patron "Welcome to McDonald's. Have you committed a felony in the last 48 hours, or are you fugitive from justice? If not, try out new spicy grilled fish sandwhich!" Now, if Bob and Joe had been stupid enough to say "yes, we just robbed a bank -- but we'll pass on the fish, thanks," Jimmy would have had an obligation to call the police. But lacking that sort of admission, Jimmy -- and charitable organizations -- can't be charged with being accessory to the illegal acts of people they cannot reasonably be expected to believe are criminals.
File Under: Law, Catholic_Stuff