With the public attention to the Hazleton, Pennsylvania trial over its Illegal Immigration Relief Act, usually judges stay quiet on the issues before the courts. Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Correale F. Stevens though came forth in a rare act to throw his support behind enforcing the law and specifically on states enforcing immigration laws because the federal government won't. Judges typically avoid public statements because of the potential for conflict of interest should a case come before them.
state Superior Court Judge Correale F. Stevens, in a somewhat surprising move for a jurist, decided to join the conversation.
Stevens - who served as a [Luzerne] county judge from 1991 to 1997 before election to his statewide position — writes in the letter that “the administration of justice in Pennsylvania is being compromised daily as a result of the lack of enforcement of immigration laws.”
In the letter and in an interview this week, Stevens said he particularly supports a state House of Representatives bill that would give State Police broader authority to detain illegal immigrants. Currently, police cannot hold someone simply for being a suspected illegal immigrant, which is a federal civil offense, unless they’ve committed some other crime.
Stevens said he would advocate for changing federal laws to allow police to arrest, district attorneys to prosecute and local judges to deport illegal immigrants. Police often encounter illegal immigrants they must arrest and release because federal immigration offices are not staffed well enough to deal with non-criminal illegal immigrants.
“The local governments aren’t allowed to do anything unless the federal government gives them permission,” Stevens said. “That’s sending out the wrong message. The law abiding citizens are upset; they’re angry because we aren’t enforcing our laws.”
After reviewing judicial ethics guidelines, Stevens said he deemed it appropriate to comment on an issue involving the administration of justice. As a state judge, he doesn’t think a case involving immigration would ever come before him, but if one did, he would consider recusing himself.
“I feel as an elected official, I’m just trying to encourage debate,” he said. “I’m a judge, and I’m just saying enforce the law.”
Go figure, a judge wants the law enforced. What a hatemonger!