The Death Penalty: A Viable Punishment for Illegal Immigration?

March 9, 2015 7:30 am
by David Jakeman

Opponents of immigration reform and opponents of undocumented immigrants have said crazy things in the past. From “self-deportation” to seeing every immigrant as a drug-carrying cartel kingpin, anti-immigration advocates have said some really strange things. But remarks by a Kennewick city-council hopeful made in 2011 redefined crazy statements on immigration. His remarks made waves because he argued that the mere fact of being an undocumented immigrant makes that person deserving of capital punishment. Yes, that’s right: the death penalty.

Kennewick City Council Member

Back in 2011, Loren Nichols, who was hoping to make it onto the city council, said that “illegal aliens should have been shot when they crossed the border.” Given all the vitriol over immigration, it would be difficult to be shocked by most things that are said. But this comment was above and beyond what has been the norm for public figures making inflammatory statements against immigrants.

Nichols had little love for undocumented immigrants. He also seemed to believe that if the federal government didn’t do anything to stop them, then Kennewick should take matters into its own hands. He said that “Kennewick needs to do what’s best for Kennewick.” What that meant exactly? According to Nichols, that meant, “We need to take jurisdiction for ourselves and mandate that [undocumented immigration] as the death penalty.”

It is always difficult to know how much comments like these are more to make political noise and how much they are floated as actual solutions that some politicians might think are viable. But whatever the case for Nichols, it is unlikely that even if he were to have won a council seat at Kennewick that the city would have instituted the death penalty for all undocumented immigrants found within its borders.

Additional Deterrents for Undocumented Immigrants

Not surprisingly, advocating the death penalty for undocumented immigrations wasn’t Nichols’ only policy suggestion. He would also wanted to make English the official language of the city. Nichols believed that public signs or information should not be available in Spanish. Such an approach, he believed, would have promoted greater unity in the community.1

Kennewick immigration attorneys are used to trying to protect their clients from sometimes difficult situations, but it can at times be difficult for them to assuage fears that there are some Kennewick residents who are violently opposed to immigrants. It is hard enough to make it by in a new country that has many odds stacked against newcomers. Statements like Nichols’ only make things more difficult. The good news is that Kennewick voters are generally reasonable people, and Nichols’ “solution” was quite unreasonable.