Jewish World Review Jan. 14, 2004 / 20 Teves, 5764

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Consumer Reports

‘Sanctuary laws’ embolden criminals | Walter Alexander Sorto, 25, an illegal immigrant, had received several traffic tickets from Houston police in the months before he and another illegal immigrant raped and murdered three women.

Had police inquired into Sorto's immigration status when they made the traffic stops, they could have prevented the murders. But Houston - like Los Angeles, New York and many other cities with large immigrant populations - has a "sanctuary" law. Cops are forbidden to ask a suspect's immigration status, and may not detain someone solely on the belief that he is in the country illegally.

Sorto's case is by no means rare. In Los Angeles, nearly two thirds of all felony warrants - 95 percent of homicide warrants - are for illegal aliens. Illegals now comprise a quarter of the federal prison population.

Those the news media deem "expert" estimate there are between 7 million and 13 million people in the United States illegally.

If the low end estimate is correct, there are more illegal immigrants here than there are people in Indiana. At the high end, we have more illegals than there are people in Pennsylvania. The difference between the low end and high end estimates is more than the population of Minnesota.

A fundamental duty of a nation state is to protect its borders. For half a century, Democratic and Republican presidents, Democratic and Republican congresses have failed to perform it.

Illegal immigration is unpopular even with legal immigrants from Mexico. So why have politicians shirked their duty for so long?

Farmers and business owners like cheap labor. Rich people like cheap domestic servants. Relations with Mexico go smoother when Mexican governments are permitted to export a significant portion of their unemployment problem. Democrats like to pad voter rolls with illegals.

Spending for the Border Patrol and the Immigration and Naturalization Service has been a low priority. The senior management of the INS has been scandalously bad.

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In a must read article in the current edition of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, Heather Macdonald blames the failure to crack down on illegals who commit violent crimes on the power of immigrant lobby groups and immigration attorneys.

"We can't even talk about it," a captain in the Los Angeles police department told MacDonald. "People are afraid of a backlash from Hispanics."

The huge number of illegals in this country also suggests that our quotas on legal residence are ridiculously low. The vast majority of illegals are gainfully employed. This indicates that our laws do not reflect our economy's need for imported labor.

President Bush has proposed resolving the dilemma by creating a massive "guest worker" program. If after a good faith effort to find Americans to fill job vacancies has failed, businesses would be permitted to h

ire foreign workers - here on renewable 3 year permits - to fill them. Bush's plan has been attacked by liberals who want full amnesty for illegals, and by conservatives who call his plan amnesty in disguise.

Bush's critics don't live in the real world. Liberals would make our most serious domestic problem worse. Conservatives either ignore it, or propose preposterous "solutions." We have neither the manpower nor the political will to round up and deport all who are here illegally, and we'd clobber our economy if we tried.

Bush's plan is half of a realistic solution. But it needs to be coupled with a serious effort to protect our borders from further waves of illegal immigration, and to separate those illegals who came here to work from those who came here to obtain welfare, or to commit crimes.

The Border Patrol and the INS need to be expanded substantially, and once a guest worker program has been established, there must be severe penalties for employers who hire illegals, and those laws should be vigorously enforced.

A special court needs to be established to expedite deportations. Immigration attorneys no longer should be permitted to drag out the proceedings for years.

Most important, local police should be empowered to enforce immigration law, not required to ignore it. We cannot prevent illegal immigration - or any other illegal activity - if we do not enforce the law.

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

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