The Illegal-Alien Crime Wave

We all know that a lot of illegal aliens get paid off the books and therefore don’t pay income tax. It’s also a given that many illegals are leeches who use our social services, schools, and hospitals without paying for them. But folks, even I had no idea of how much crime was being committed by illegal aliens. However, this column by Heather Mac Donald, which I would call the must read column of 2004 so far, is full of crime statistics & information about how our law enforcement officers are prevented from doing their jobs. Here are some excerpts from Mac Donald’s piece that are going to blow your minds…

“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.

….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.

…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 felony.

…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 the INS.

…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.”

…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.

…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.

…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 Border Patrol.

…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.”

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