- Some of the most violent criminals at large today are
illegal aliens. Yet in cities where the crime these aliens commit is highest,
the police cannot use the most obvious tool to apprehend them: their immigration
status. In Los Angeles, for example, dozens of members of a ruthless Salvadoran
prison gang have sneaked back into town after having been deported for
such crimes as murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and drug trafficking.
Police officers know who they are and know that their mere presence in
the country is a felony. Yet should a cop arrest an illegal gangbanger
for felonious reentry, it is he who will be treated as a criminal, for
violating the LAPD's rule against enforcing immigration law.
- The LAPD's ban on immigration enforcement mirrors bans
in immigrant-saturated cities around the country, from New York and Chicago
to San Diego, Austin, and Houston. These "sanctuary policies"
generally prohibit city employees, including the cops, from reporting immigration
violations to federal authorities.
- Such laws testify to the sheer political power of immigrant
lobbies, a power so irresistible that police officials shrink from even
mentioning the illegal-alien crime wave. "We can't even talk about
it," says a frustrated LAPD captain. "People are afraid of a
backlash from Hispanics." Another LAPD commander in a predominantly
Hispanic, gang-infested district sighs: "I would get a firestorm of
criticism if I talked about [enforcing the immigration law against illegals]."
Neither captain would speak for attribution.
- But however pernicious in themselves, sanctuary rules
are a symptom of a much broader disease: the nation's near-total loss of
control over immigration policy. Fifty years ago, immigration policy might
have driven immigration numbers, but today the numbers drive policy. The
nonstop increase of immigration is reshaping the language and the law to
dissolve any distinction between legal and illegal aliens and, ultimately,
the very idea of national borders.
- It is a measure of how topsy-turvy the immigration environment
has become that to ask police officials about the illegal-alien crime problem
feels like a gross faux pas, not done in polite company. And a police official
asked to violate this powerful taboo will give a strangled response-or,
as in the case of a New York deputy commissioner, break off communication
altogether. Meanwhile, millions of illegal aliens work, shop, travel, and
commit crimes in plain view, utterly secure in their de facto immunity
from the immigration law.
- I asked the Miami Police Department's spokesman, Detective
Delrish Moss, about his employer's policy on lawbreaking illegals. In September,
the force arrested a Honduran visa violator for seven vicious rapes. The
previous year, Miami cops had had the suspect in custody for lewd and lascivious
molestation, without checking his immigration status. Had they done so,
they would have discovered his visa overstay, a deportable offense, and
so could have forestalled the rapes. "We have shied away from unnecessary
involvement dealing with immigration issues," explains Moss, choosing
his words carefully, "because of our large immigrant population."
- Police commanders may not want to discuss, much less
respond to, the illegal-alien crisis, but its magnitude for law enforcement
is startling. Some examples:
- * In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants
for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to
two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens.
- * A confidential California Department of Justice study
reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang
in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is
actually much greater. The bloody gang collaborates with the Mexican Mafia,
the dominant force in California prisons, on complex drug-distribution
schemes, extortion, and drive-by assassinations, and commits an assault
or robbery every day in L.A. County. The gang has grown dramatically over
the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of
them illegal, from Central America and Mexico.
- * The leadership of the Columbia Lil' Cycos gang, which
uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around L.A.'s MacArthur
Park, was about 60 percent illegal in 2002, says former assistant U.S.
attorney Luis Li. Francisco Martinez, a Mexican Mafia member and an illegal
alien, controlled the gang from prison, while serving time for felonious
reentry following deportation.
- Good luck finding any reference to such facts in official
crime analysis. The LAPD and the L.A. city attorney recently requested
an injunction against drug trafficking in Hollywood, targeting the 18th
Street Gang and the "non-gang members" who sell drugs in Hollywood
for the gang. Those non-gang members are virtually all illegal Mexicans,
smuggled into the country by a ring organized by 18th Street bigs. The
Mexicans pay off their transportation debts to the gang by selling drugs;
many soon realize how lucrative that line of work is and stay in the business.
- Cops and prosecutors universally know the immigration
status of these non-gang "Hollywood dealers," as the city attorney
calls them, but the gang injunction is assiduously silent on the matter.
And if a Hollywood officer were to arrest an illegal dealer (known on the
street as a "border brother") for his immigration status, or
even notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service (since early 2003,
absorbed into the new Department of Homeland Security), he would face severe
discipline for violating Special Order 40, the city's sanctuary policy.
- The ordinarily tough-as-nails former LAPD chief Daryl
Gates enacted Special Order 40 in 1979-showing that even the most unapologetic
law-and-order cop is no match for immigration advocates. The order prohibits
officers from "initiating police action where the objective is to
discover the alien status of a person"-in other words, the police
may not even ask someone they have arrested about his immigration status
until after they have filed criminal charges, nor may they arrest someone
for immigration violations. They may not notify immigration authorities
about an illegal alien picked up for minor violations. Only if they have
already booked an illegal alien for a felony or for multiple misdemeanors
may they inquire into his status or report him. The bottom line: a cordon
sanitaire between local law enforcement and immigration authorities that
creates a safe haven for illegal criminals.
- L.A.'s sanctuary law and all others like it contradict
a key 1990s policing discovery: the Great Chain of Being in criminal behavior.
Pick up a law-violator for a "minor" crime, and you might well
prevent a major crime: enforcing graffiti and turnstile-jumping laws nabs
you murderers and robbers. Enforcing known immigration violations, such
as reentry following deportation, against known felons, would be even more
productive. LAPD officers recognize illegal deported gang members all the
time-flashing gang signs at court hearings for rival gangbangers, hanging
out on the corner, or casing a target. These illegal returnees are, simply
by being in the country after deportation, committing a felony (in contrast
to garden-variety illegals on their first trip to the U.S., say, who are
only committing a misdemeanor). "But if I see a deportee from the
Mara Salvatrucha [Salvadoran prison] gang crossing the street, I know I
can't touch him," laments a Los Angeles gang officer. Only if the
deported felon has given the officer some other reason to stop him, such
as an observed narcotics sale, can the cop accost him-but not for the immigration
- Though such a policy puts the community at risk, the
department's top brass brush off such concerns. No big deal if you see
deported gangbangers back on the streets, they say. Just put them under
surveillance for "real" crimes and arrest them for those. But
surveillance is very manpower-intensive. Where there is an immediate ground
for getting a violent felon off the street and for questioning him further,
it is absurd to demand that the woefully understaffed LAPD ignore it.
- The stated reasons for sanctuary policies are that they
encourage illegal-alien crime victims and witnesses to cooperate with cops
without fear of deportation, and that they encourage illegals to take advantage
of city services like health care and education (to whose maintenance few
illegals have contributed a single tax dollar, of course). There has never
been any empirical verification that sanctuary laws actually accomplish
these goals-and no one has ever suggested not enforcing drug laws, say,
for fear of intimidating drug-using crime victims. But in any case, this
official rationale could be honored by limiting police use of immigration
laws to some subset of immigration violators: deported felons, say, or
repeat criminal offenders whose immigration status police already know.
- The real reason cities prohibit their cops and other
employees from immigration reporting and enforcement is, like nearly everything
else in immigration policy, the numbers. The immigrant population has grown
so large that public officials are terrified of alienating it, even at
the expense of ignoring the law and tolerating violence. In 1996, a breathtaking
Los Angeles Times exposé on the 18th Street Gang, which included
descriptions of innocent bystanders being murdered by laughing cholos (gang
members), revealed the rate of illegal-alien membership in the gang. In
response to the public outcry, the Los Angeles City Council ordered the
police to reexamine Special Order 40. You would have thought it had suggested
reconsidering Roe v. Wade. A police commander warned the council: "This
is going to open a significant, heated debate." City Councilwoman
Laura Chick put on a brave front: "We mustn't be afraid," she
- But of course immigrant pandering trumped public safety.
Law-abiding residents of gang-infested neighborhoods may live in terror
of the tattooed gangbangers dealing drugs, spraying graffiti, and shooting
up rivals outside their homes, but such anxiety can never equal a politician's
fear of offending Hispanics. At the start of the reexamination process,
LAPD deputy chief John White had argued that allowing the department to
work closely with the INS would give cops another tool for getting gang
members off the streets. Trying to build a homicide case, say, against
an illegal gang member is often futile, he explained, since witnesses fear
deadly retaliation if they cooperate with the police. Enforcing an immigration
violation would allow the cops to lock up the murderer right now, without
putting a witness's life at risk.
- But six months later, Deputy Chief White had changed
his tune: "Any broadening of the policy gets us into the immigration
business," he asserted. "It's a federal law-enforcement issue,
not a local law-enforcement issue." Interim police chief Bayan Lewis
told the L.A. Police Commission: "It is not the time. It is not the
day to look at Special Order 40."
- Nor will it ever be, as long as immigration numbers continue
to grow. After their brief moment of truth in 1996, Los Angeles politicians
have only grown more adamant in defense of Special Order 40. After learning
that cops in the scandal-plagued Rampart Division had cooperated with the
INS to try to uproot murderous gang members from the community, local politicians
threw a fit, criticizing district commanders for even allowing INS agents
into their station houses. In turn, the LAPD strictly disciplined the offending
officers. By now, big-city police chiefs are unfortunately just as determined
to defend sanctuary policies as the politicians who appoint them; not so
the rank and file, however, who see daily the benefit that an immigration
tool would bring.
- Immigration politics have similarly harmed New York.
Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani sued all the way up to the Supreme Court
to defend the city's sanctuary policy against a 1996 federal law decreeing
that cities could not prohibit their employees from cooperating with the
INS. Oh yeah? said Giuliani; just watch me. The INS, he claimed, with what
turned out to be grotesque irony, only aims to "terrorize people."
Though he lost in court, he remained defiant to the end. On September 5,
2001, his handpicked charter-revision committee ruled that New York could
still require that its employees keep immigration information confidential
to preserve trust between immigrants and government. Six days later, several
visa-overstayers participated in the most devastating attack on the city
and the country in history.
- New York conveniently forgot the 1996 federal ban on
sanctuary laws until a gang of five Mexicans-four of them illegal-abducted
and brutally raped a 42-year-old mother of two near some railroad tracks
in Queens. The NYPD had already arrested three of the illegal aliens numerous
times for such crimes as assault, attempted robbery, criminal trespass,
illegal gun possession, and drug offenses. The department had never notified
- Citizen outrage forced Mayor Michael Bloomberg to revisit
the city's sanctuary decree yet again. In May 2003, Bloomberg tweaked the
policy minimally to allow city staffers to inquire into immigration status
only if it is relevant to the awarding of a government benefit. Though
Bloomberg's new rule said nothing about reporting immigration violations
to federal officials, advocates immediately claimed that it did allow such
reporting, and the ethnic lobbies went ballistic. "What we're seeing
is the erosion of people's rights," thundered Angelo Falcon of the
Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. After three months of intense
agitation by immigrant groups, Bloomberg replaced this innocuous "don't
ask" policy with a "don't tell" rule even broader than Gotham's
original sanctuary policy. The new rule prohibits city employees from giving
other government officials information not just about immigration status
but about tax payments, sexual orientation, welfare status, and other matters.
- But even were immigrant-saturated cities to discard their
sanctuary policies and start enforcing immigration violations where public
safety demands it, the resource-starved immigration authorities couldn't
handle the overwhelming additional workload.
- The chronic shortage of manpower to oversee, and detention
space to house, aliens as they await their deportation hearings (or, following
an order of removal from a federal judge, their actual deportation) has
forced immigration officials to practice a constant triage. Long ago, the
feds stopped trying to find and deport aliens who had "merely"
entered the country illegally through stealth or fraudulent documents.
Currently, the only types of illegal aliens who run any risk of catching
federal attention are those who have been convicted of an "aggravated
felony" (a particularly egregious crime) or who have been deported
following conviction for an aggravated felony and who have reentered (an
offense punishable with 20 years in jail).
- That triage has been going on for a long time, as former
INS investigator Mike Cutler, who worked with the NYPD catching Brooklyn
drug dealers in the 1970s, explains. "If you arrested someone you
wanted to detain, you'd go to your boss and start a bidding war,"
Cutler recalls. "You'd say: 'My guy ran three blocks, threw a couple
of punches, and had six pieces of ID.' The boss would turn to another agent:
'Next! Whaddid your guy do?' 'He ran 18 blocks, pushed over an old lady,
and had a gun.' " But such one-upmanship was usually fruitless. "Without
the jail space," explains Cutler, "it was like the Fish and Wildlife
Service; you'd tag their ear and let them go."
- But even when immigration officials actually arrest someone,
and even if a judge issues a final deportation order (usually after years
of litigation and appeals), they rarely have the manpower to put the alien
on a bus or plane and take him across the border. Second alternative: detain
him pending removal. Again, inadequate space and staff. In the early 1990s,
for example, 15 INS officers were in charge of the deportation of approximately
85,000 aliens (not all of them criminals) in New York City. The agency's
actual response to final orders of removal was what is known as a "run
letter"-a notice asking the deportable alien kindly to show up in
a month or two to be deported, when the agency might be able to process
him. Results: in 2001, 87 percent of deportable aliens who received run
letters disappeared, a number that was even higher-94 percent-if they were
from terror-sponsoring countries.
- To other law-enforcement agencies, the feds' triage often
looks like complete indifference to immigration violations. Testifying
to Congress about the Queens rape by illegal Mexicans, New York's criminal
justice coordinator defended the city's failure to notify the INS after
the rapists' previous arrests on the ground that the agency wouldn't have
responded anyway. "We have time and time again been unable to reach
INS on the phone," John Feinblatt said last February. "When we
reach them on the phone, they require that we write a letter. When we write
a letter, they require that it be by a superior."
- Criminal aliens also interpret the triage as indifference.
John Mullaly a former NYPD homicide detective, estimates that 70 percent
of the drug dealers and other criminals in Manhattan's Washington Heights
were illegal. Were Mullaly to threaten an illegal-alien thug in custody
that his next stop would be El Salvador unless he cooperated, the criminal
would just laugh, knowing that the INS would never show up. The message
could not be clearer: this is a culture that can't enforce its most basic
law of entry. If policing's broken-windows theory is correct, the failure
to enforce one set of rules breeds overall contempt for the law.
- The sheer number of criminal aliens overwhelmed an innovative
program that would allow immigration officials to complete deportation
hearings while a criminal was still in state or federal prison, so that
upon his release he could be immediately ejected without taking up precious
INS detention space. But the process, begun in 1988, immediately bogged
down due to the numbers-in 2000, for example, nearly 30 percent of federal
prisoners were foreign-born. The agency couldn't find enough pro bono attorneys
to represent such an army of criminal aliens (who have extensive due-process
rights in contesting deportation) and so would have to request delay after
delay. Or enough immigration judges would not be available. In 1997, the
INS simply had no record of a whopping 36 percent of foreign-born inmates
who had been released from federal and four state prisons without any review
of their deportability. They included 1,198 aggravated felons, 80 of whom
were soon re-arrested for new crimes.
- Resource starvation is not the only reason for federal
inaction. The INS was a creature of immigration politics, and INS district
directors came under great pressure from local politicians to divert scarce
resources into distribution of such "benefits" as permanent residency,
citizenship, and work permits, and away from criminal or other investigations.
In the late 1980s, for example, the INS refused to join an FBI task force
against Haitian drug trafficking in Miami, fearing criticism for "Haitian-bashing."
In 1997, after Hispanic activists protested a much-publicized raid that
netted nearly two dozen illegals, the Border Patrol said that it would
no longer join Simi Valley, California, probation officers on home searches
of illegal-alien-dominated gangs.
- The disastrous Citizenship USA project of 1996 was a
luminous case of politics driving the INS to sacrifice enforcement to "benefits."
When, in the early 1990s, the prospect of welfare reform drove immigrants
to apply for citizenship in record numbers to preserve their welfare eligibility,
the Clinton administration, seeing a political bonanza in hundreds of thousands
of new welfare-dependent citizens, ordered the naturalization process radically
expedited. Thanks to relentless administration pressure, processing errors
in 1996 were 99 percent in New York and 90 percent in Los Angeles, and
tens of thousands of aliens with criminal records, including for murder
and armed robbery, were naturalized.
- Another powerful political force, the immigration bar
association, has won from Congress an elaborate set of due-process rights
for criminal aliens that can keep them in the country indefinitely. Federal
probation officers in Brooklyn are supervising two illegals-a Jordanian
and an Egyptian with Saudi citizenship-who look "ready to blow up
the Statue of Liberty," according to a probation official, but the
officers can't get rid of them. The Jordanian had been caught fencing stolen
Social Security and tax-refund checks; now he sells phone cards, which
he uses himself to make untraceable calls. The Saudi's offense: using a
fraudulent Social Security number to get employment-a puzzlingly unnecessary
scam, since he receives large sums from the Middle East, including from
millionaire relatives. But intelligence links him to terrorism, so presumably
he worked in order not to draw attention to himself. Currently, he changes
his cell phone every month. Ordinarily such a minor offense would not be
prosecuted, but the government, fearing that he had terrorist intentions,
used whatever it had to put him in prison.
- Now, probation officers desperately want to see the duo
out of the country, but the two ex-cons have hired lawyers, who are relentlessly
fighting their deportation. "Due process allows you to stay for years
without an adjudication," says a probation officer in frustration.
"A regular immigration attorney can keep you in the country for three
years, a high-priced one for ten." In the meantime, Brooklyn probation
officials are watching the bridges.
- Even where immigration officials successfully nab and
deport criminal aliens, the reality, says a former federal gang prosecutor,
is that "they all come back. They can't make it in Mexico." The
tens of thousands of illegal farmworkers and dishwashers who overpower
U.S. border controls every year carry in their wake thousands of brutal
assailants and terrorists who use the same smuggling industry and who benefit
from the same irresistible odds: there are so many more of them than the
- For, of course, the government's inability to keep out
criminal aliens is part and parcel of its inability to patrol the border,
period. For decades, the INS had as much effect on the migration of millions
of illegals as a can tied to the tail of a tiger. And the immigrants themselves,
despite the press cliché of hapless aliens living fearfully in the
shadows, seemed to regard immigration authorities with all the concern
of an elephant for a flea.
- Certainly fear of immigration officers is not in evidence
among the hundreds of illegal day laborers who hang out on Roosevelt Avenue
in Queens, New York, in front of money wire services, travel agencies,
immigration-attorney offices, and phone arcades, all catering to the local
Hispanic population (as well as to drug dealers and terrorists). "There
is no chance of getting caught," cheerfully explains Rafael, an Ecuadoran.
Like the dozen Ecuadorans and Mexicans on his particular corner, Rafael
is hoping that an SUV seeking carpenters for $100 a day will show up soon.
"We don't worry, because we're not doing anything wrong. I know it's
illegal; I need the papers, but here, nobody asks you for papers."
- Even the newly fortified Mexican border, the one spot
where the government really tries to prevent illegal immigration, looms
as only a minor inconvenience to the day laborers. The odds, they realize,
are overwhelmingly in their favor. Miguel, a reserved young carpenter,
crossed the border at Tijuana three years ago with 15 others. Border Patrol
spotted them, but with six officers to 16 illegals, only five got caught.
In illegal border crossings, you get what you pay for, Miguel says. If
you try to shave on the fee, the coyotes will abandon you at the first
problem. Miguel's wife was flying into New York from Los Angeles that very
day; it had cost him $2,200 to get her across the border. "Because
I pay, I don't worry," he says complacently.
- The only way to dampen illegal immigration and its attendant
train of criminals and terrorists-short of an economic revolution in the
sending countries or an impregnably militarized border-is to remove the
jobs magnet. As long as migrants know they can easily get work, they will
find ways to evade border controls. But enforcing laws against illegal
labor is among government's lowest priorities. In 2001, only 124 agents
nationwide were trying to find and prosecute the hundreds of thousands
of employers and millions of illegal aliens who violate the employment
laws, the Associated Press reports.
- Even were immigration officials to devote adequate resources
to worksite investigations, not much would change, because their legal
weapons are so weak. That's no accident: though it is a crime to hire illegal
aliens, a coalition of libertarians, business lobbies, and left-wing advocates
has consistently blocked the fraud-proof form of work authorization necessary
to enforce that ban. Libertarians have erupted in hysteria at such proposals
as a toll-free number to the Social Security Administration for employers
to confirm Social Security numbers. Hispanics warn just as stridently that
helping employers verify work eligibility would result in discrimination
against Hispanics-implicitly conceding that vast numbers of Hispanics work
- The result: hiring practices in illegal-immigrant-saturated
industries are a charade. Millions of illegal workers pretend to present
valid documents, and thousands of employers pretend to believe them. The
law doesn't require the employer to verify that a worker is actually qualified
to work, and as long as the proffered documents are not patently phony-scrawled
with red crayon on a matchbook, say-the employer will nearly always be
exempt from liability merely by having eyeballed them. To find an employer
guilty of violating the ban on hiring illegal aliens, immigration authorities
must prove that he knew he was getting fake papers-an almost insurmountable
burden. Meanwhile, the market for counterfeit documents has exploded: in
one month alone in 1998, immigration authorities seized nearly 2 million
of them in Los Angeles, destined for immigrant workers, welfare seekers,
criminals, and terrorists.
- For illegal workers and employers, there is no downside
to the employment charade. If immigration officials ever do try to conduct
an industry-wide investigation-which will at least net the illegal employees,
if not the employers-local congressmen will almost certainly head it off.
An INS inquiry into the Vidalia-onion industry in Georgia was not only
aborted by Georgia's congressional delegation; it actually resulted in
a local amnesty for the growers' illegal workforce. The downside to complying
with the spirit of the employment law, on the other hand, is considerable.
Ethnic advocacy groups are ready to picket employers who dismiss illegal
workers, and employers understandably fear being undercut by less scrupulous
- Of the incalculable changes in American politics, demographics,
and culture that the continuing surge of migrants is causing, one of the
most profound is the breakdown of the distinction between legal and illegal
entry. Everywhere, illegal aliens receive free public education and free
medical care at taxpayer expense; 13 states offer them driver's licenses.
States everywhere have been pushed to grant illegal aliens college scholarships
and reduced in-state tuition. One hundred banks, over 800 law-enforcement
agencies, and dozens of cities accept an identification card created by
Mexico to credentialize illegal Mexican aliens in the U.S. The Bush administration
has given its blessing to this matricula consular card, over the strong
protest of the FBI, which warns that the gaping security loopholes that
the card creates make it a boon to money launderers, immigrant smugglers,
and terrorists. Border authorities have already caught an Iranian man sneaking
across the border this year, Mexican matricula card in hand.
- Hispanic advocates have helped blur the distinction between
a legal and an illegal resident by asserting that differentiating the two
is an act of irrational bigotry. Arrests of illegal aliens inside the border
now inevitably spark protests, often led by the Mexican government, that
feature signs calling for "no más racismo." Immigrant
advocates use the language of "human rights" to appeal to an
authority higher than such trivia as citizenship laws. They attack the
term "amnesty" for implicitly acknowledging the validity of borders.
Indeed, grouses Illinois congressman Luis Gutierrez, "There's an implication
that somehow you did something wrong and you need to be forgiven."
- Illegal aliens and their advocates speak loudly about
what they think the U.S. owes them, not vice versa. "I believe they
have a right . . . to work, to drive their kids to school," said California
assemblywoman Sarah Reyes. An immigration agent says that people he stops
"get in your face about their rights, because our failure to enforce
the law emboldens them." Taking this idea to its extreme, Joaquín
Avila, a UCLA Chicano studies professor and law lecturer, argues that to
deny non-citizens the vote, especially in the many California cities where
they constitute the majority, is a form of apartheid.
- Yet no poll has ever shown that Americans want more open
borders. Quite the reverse. By a huge majority-at least 60 percent-they
want to rein in immigration, and they endorse an observation that Senator
Alan Simpson made 20 years ago: Americans "are fed up with efforts
to make them feel that [they] do not have that fundamental right of any
people-to decide who will join them and help form the future country in
which they and their posterity will live." But if the elites' and
the advocates' idea of giving voting rights to non-citizen majorities catches
on-and don't be surprised if it does-Americans could be faced with the
ultimate absurdity of people outside the social compact making rules for
those inside it.
- However the nation ultimately decides to rationalize
its chaotic and incoherent immigration system, surely all can agree that,
at a minimum, authorities should expel illegal-alien criminals swiftly.
Even on the grounds of protecting non-criminal illegal immigrants, we should
start by junking sanctuary policies. By stripping cops of what may be their
only immediate tool to remove felons from the community, these policies
leave law-abiding immigrants prey to crime.
- But the non-enforcement of immigration laws in general
has an even more destructive effect. In many immigrant communities, assimilation
into gangs seems to be outstripping assimilation into civic culture. Toddlers
are learning to flash gang signals and hate the police, reports the Los
Angeles Times. In New York City, "every high school
- has its Mexican gang," and most 12- to 14-year-olds
have already joined, claims Ernesto Vega, an illegal 18-year-old Mexican.
Such pathologies only worsen when the first lesson that immigrants learn
about U.S. law is that Americans don't bother to enforce it. "Institutionalizing
illegal immigration creates a mindset in people that anything goes in the
U.S.," observes Patrick Ortega, the news and public-affairs director
of Radio Nueva Vida in southern California. "It creates a new subculture,
with a sequela of social ills." It is broken windows writ large.
- For the sake of immigrants and native-born Americans
alike, it's time to decide what our immigration policy is-and enforce it.
- Copyright The Manhattan Institute