Wednesday, August 4, 1999

Congress should curb
deportation abuses

Bullet The issue: A 1996 law requires deportation of immigrants who committed crimes for which they were sentenced to one year in prison.

Bullet Our view: Flexibility is needed to prevent abuses.

LEGISLATION enacted in 1996 required the government to deport legal immigrants who had committed crimes for which a sentence of one year or more in prison was imposed. Deportation was required even if a judge suspended the sentence.

The law also revoked an immigration judge's authority to grant a waiver, even if the subject had family and other ties to the United States, had never committed another crime and was no threat to the community.

But many such persons cannot be deported because their countries of origin refuse to accept them. They continue to be held although there is no realistic expectation that they will be deported. This can result in detention far beyond the time most citizens serve for the same crime -- even for life.

Since the passage of the 1996 law, the federal courts have been flooded with petitions seeking the release of deported aliens, contending that their rights under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment had been violated.

This is not an acceptable situation, and last month a panel of five federal district judges in Seattle agreed. They unanimously held that "it is 'excessive' to detain an alien indefinitely if deportation will never occur."

The judges ordered the release of three men held by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and ordered a hearing for a fourth. Two had been held about two years awaiting deportation after serving their criminal sentences.

THE decision is being appealed, but it points up the inherent unfairness of the current law.

Congress should restore the authority of immigration judges to grant waivers from deportation, especially when the country of origin refuses to accept the alien.

This would not exempt persons convicted of crimes from serving prison sentences as provided by law -- only from indefinite detention beyond the sentencing period.


Francis S. Morgan

FRANCIS S. Morgan, who died Sunday at 80, was a kamaaina sugar industry executive who tried to save the Hamakua Sugar Co. He failed, but his efforts won the admiration of many. Since the Big Island company closed in 1993, the sugar industry, once the mainstay of Hawaii's economy, has continued its decline.

Morgan's forebears arrived in Honolulu in 1828 with the third company of missionaries. The family bought Kualoa Ranch from King Kamehameha III in 1850 and built the first centrifugal sugar mill on Oahu.

Morgan spent much of his childhood on the ranch and attended Hanahauoli and Punahou schools. After graduation from Stanford University, he returned to Hawaii, working for Theo H. Davies. He served in the Navy in World War II, participating in three Pacific invasions.

After the war he returned to Davies, rising to vice president for agriculture. When Davies' parent company, Jardine Matheson & Co., decided to get out of the sugar business, Morgan, who was about to retire, bought Hamakua Sugar in 1984 for $69.5 million.

Like much of the industry, the company experienced losses, the result of bad weather and declining sugar prices. Hamakua filed for bankruptcy in 1992 and closed the following year.

If Hawaii is to prosper again it will need business leaders with the enthusiasm and faith of Francis Morgan.

Minimum wage raise
would hurt economy

Bullet The issue: Governor Cayetano may propose raising the minimum wage to help families forced off the welfare rolls.

Bullet Our view: An increase in the minimum wage could hurt the economy.

WHAT one hand giveth, the other taketh away. Governor Cayetano approved a gradual reduction in the pyramiding of the general excise tax over seven years. That will provide help for Hawaii business, although the phase-in period is too long to produce dramatic benefits.

Now the governor is considering a proposal to raise the minimum wage, which could nullify the benefit of the excise tax cut.

Cayetano says he is concerned about the people who will be forced off welfare rolls by stricter federal rules. But raising the state minimum wage -- now $5.25 an hour -- is not the answer.

Raising the minimum makes it more expensive for employers to hire marginal workers. For businesses that are barely surviving in Hawaii's weak economy, it may mean fewer hires.

RAISING the minimum wage can also push up other wages, increasing the cost of doing business throughout the private sector.

Moreover, many minimum wage workers are teen-agers living at home, supported by their parents. They don't need an increase.

Cayetano should look elsewhere for help for families pushed off welfare.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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