Illegal immigration isn’t a crime?

Mike Gallagher
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Posted: Sep 14, 2007 12:00 AM
Illegal immigration isn’t a crime?

“Illegal immigration isn’t a crime.”

These words weren’t spoken by some rabid, pro-illegal activist. They were expressed by none other than Rudy Giuliani, the front-running GOP presidential candidate.

When Mayor Giuliani told radio and TV host Glenn Beck that technically speaking, illegal immigrants aren’t really committing any felonies when they cross the border, that the act of sneaking into our country and taking jobs, social services, and classroom space for their children is more of a civil offense, I truly thought that the feisty, tough-as-nails Giuliani was just pulling Beck’s leg.

Either that, or he had totally lost his mind.

The truth is that the former mayor of the biggest sanctuary city on the planet is similar to President Bush in terms of being tone-deaf to the roar of legal citizens who have positively had it with illegal immigrants.

Day after day, we scratch our heads and complain about President Bush’s apparent soft spot for people who have achieved their goal in life, to become residents of the United States by illegal entry.

And as the presidential campaign revved up, a number of the Republican candidates, including Rudy, preached to the choir about the way illegal immigration has harmed the USA.

So to call Mayor Giuliani’s comments to Beck a major setback is an understatement. For many voters, an attempt to minimize the criminality of illegal immigration based on civil versus criminal status or even felonious as opposed to misdemeanor status is unforgivable. A vast majority of callers to my national radio show said that as a result of Giuliani’s widely publicized comments, they would never cast a vote for him.

Like President Bush, I really like and admire Rudy Giuliani. I have been privileged to be able to spend some time individually with both men and I believe them to be honorable public servants who possess tremendous core convictions and unquestionable integrity.

But agreeing with them on illegal immigration is something I just cannot do. Too many lives are being ruined and too much damage is being done to our great country, often by illegals who drive drunk, who kill cops, and who display an expected propensity to disobey the laws of our land.

Giuliani’s focus is on securing the border. And obviously, that’s a crucial component of this catastrophe. It sounds as if he would attempt to seal the border the same way he led the dramatic and successful effort to fight crime while mayor of New York City. He would analyze data gathered by aerial surveillance and other methods to indicate what parts of the border feature the most violators and flood those areas with border patrol agents.

Frankly, it sounds plausible. It sure worked in New York, perhaps it could work at the border.

But to do that without firmly addressing the issue of millions of illegals already here is a bit like closing the barn door after the cows have escaped.

I have obviously been troubled by Rudy Giuliani’s assertion that the actual act of illegal immigration isn’t really a crime and I think I know why his blasé attitude about it has stuck such a nerve with me. It has to do with his proven mayoral track record.

The strategy of flooding a problem area with law enforcement is often referred to as “the broken windows” way of fighting crime. The analogy is that an office building with some broken windows is never going to be as viable and attractive as it will be once you fix the broken windows. In other words, go after the petty and misdemeanor crimes and the big crimes will be easier to defeat.

It’s a concept that Mayor Giuliani used to firmly cement his well-deserved reputation as one of the most successful mayors in the history of New York. As “the broken windows” policy led to the policy of methodically analyzing crime in various areas of New York and implementing a surge of police officers where areas needed them the most, the city’s crime rate plummeted, the quality of life dramatically improved, and New York City became one of the safest and cleanest big cities in the world.

And what about misdemeanors in Rudy’s New York? Jaywalkers were ticketed, squeegee men who harassed motorists were arrested, street food vendors were heavily fined.

If you go after the small crimes, the big crimes will be more easily defeated.

No one understands that better than Rudy Giuliani. That’s why it’s positively shocking that he would commit such an about-face when it comes to illegal immigration. Instead of minimizing the physical act of being an illegal immigrant, one would think he would attack the problem of illegals living and working here with as much passion as he used to go after hot dog vendors or jaywalkers.

Rudy Giuliani wants to be the next President. He’ll never get there by suggesting or implying that illegal immigration isn’t such a big deal.

To millions and millions of Americans, it most certainly IS a big deal.

And it’s a crime.

For the millionth time, what part of “illegal” is so hard to figure out?