What’s One Life Worth When It Comes to the Politics of Immigration?

Ira Mehlman
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Posted: Apr 15, 2008 12:54 PM
What’s One Life Worth When It Comes to the Politics of Immigration?

Nothing illustrates the all-consuming desire of the segment of the political left that seeks to transform America through immigration than the reaction, of lack thereof, to the murder of Jamiel Shaw Jr. While people like Rodney King and Tawana Brawley have had their moments in the national spotlight for being victims of real and imagined crimes, few outside of Jamiel’s hometown of Los Angeles have ever heard of him.

One reason most people have never heard of Jamiel is that they never got the chance. Jamiel was murdered on March 2 at age 17. He was a young man with a very promising future. A star running back on his high school football team, Jamiel was also a good enough student to be recruited to play college ball at Stanford, one of the elite universities in the nation. Jamiel’s mother, Army Sergeant Anita Shaw, was on active duty serving her country in Iraq at the time of her son’s murder.

The suspect who allegedly gunned Jamiel down near his home in the Arlington Heights section of Los Angeles is Pedro Espinosa, a known member of the notorious 18th Street Gang and an illegal alien. Only a day before Jamiel’s murder, Espinosa had been released from custody after having been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. Because of policies that deliberately bar police in Los Angeles and many other cities from investigating the immigration status of people they arrest, Espinosa was turned back out onto the streets, rather than remanded to federal immigration authorities.

One more fact that shouldn’t really matter, but does in a political environment consumed by issues of race and ethnicity: Jamiel Shaw Jr. was black.

Under other circumstances the senseless and brutal murder of a young black man would have sparked howls of righteous indignation from the self-anointed black leadership in America. People like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who can organize angry protests on a moment’s notice, would have been out on the streets demanding justice for Jamiel and demanding investigations into the circumstances that allowed a violent criminal like Espinosa back into the community.

That has not happened, anymore than it happened last summer when an illegal alien gang member who had also been released from police custody murdered three black college students in Newark, New Jersey, and critically wounded a fourth. Nor have we heard so much as a peep from the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, or any other established black leadership organization – all of whom are ideologically committed to granting amnesty to illegal aliens and still higher levels of immigration to the U.S.

City authorities in Los Angeles, however, have been quick to react. Shortly after Jamiel’s murder, the Los Angeles City Council by an 11-1 vote approved a resolution opposing a bipartisan congressional bill that would substantially improve enforcement against illegal immigration, declaring it “mean-spirited and intentionally divisive.” The council’s resolution was followed by a letter from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in which he pleaded for an end to federal enforcement raids against Los Angeles businesses that hire illegal aliens. The mayor expressed his consternation about the impact these enforcement measures are having on business owners in Los Angeles and on the psyches of folks living illegally in his city.

When the grieving Shaw family was finally given the opportunity to address the Los Angeles City Council to implore city leaders to at least allow police to look into the immigration status of criminals they arrest, they were essentially told that however tragic their son’s murder, the politics of immigration and the concerns of illegal immigrants come first in Los Angeles.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl condescendingly explained that the reasons for city policies that shield illegal immigrants – even those who commit crimes – were far too complex for them to grasp and that further discussion needs to be put off for another time. Councilman Richard Alarcon angrily accused outsiders of trying to exploit Jamiel’s murder to divide communities in Los Angeles.

Sadly, not much is likely to change as a result of Jamiel Shaw’s murder. For those committed to transforming America through immigration, he is nothing more than collateral damage in their ideological battle.