America -- land of the free. Where it seems anyone is free to sue for anything under the sun.
Case in point: the families of 14 undocumented immigrants who died in the desert attempting to cross the border outside Yuma in 2001. They are suing the U.S. government for $42 million.
The reasons, according to an article in the Monday edition of The Arizona Republic: the federal border policy was responsible for the route these people took, and the government did not allow an immigrants-rights group to place a water station where the 14 people died.
The basis for this lawsuit seems to be that somehow the United States government forced these people to cross into this country illegally through treacherous territory. It suggests that they had no choice in how they made preparations for their illegal journey and that it was the responsibility of the U.S. government to provide water and a better route for their plan to break the law.
This is like a burglar suing the homeowner because he cut himself as he broke the window to get in. The fact is, these people broke the law and, unfortunately, paid the ultimate price. This should be the main focus of the argument against the suit.
Instead, the reason the defense is saying the court should dismiss the case without hearing it, is because the immigrants were trespassing in a wildlife refuge. The lawyers for the U.S. Attorney's office are not arguing about illegal entry into the country, but trespassing on national lands.
By avoiding a debate about illegal entry, the attorneys are pulling this case, and others like it, out of the courts and into the hands of legislators.
Is this a thinly veiled attempt at some twisted concept of political correctness? More likely, it is a blatant power grab to take away the court's job of interpreting law.
If they are successful in taking this particular decision out of the court's hands, they are protecting the political fortunes of those in office who want to use the issue of our immigration policy as a means to broaden their base of support.
The decision is better left with the courts.
The courts have calendars and things get done -- albeit, slowly at times. And while many judges also are political appointees, we believe they are in a position to know the precedents they set and the repercussions.
In the end, the courts will make a decision. But with the legislative process, and the inevitable changes in the power structure, there is no guarantee anything will ever be accomplished.
The United States needs to either start fully enforcing our existing immigration policy, or change the law. If the legislators aren't willing to take a stand, then let the courts do so.