Alien Thinking

Posted: Sep 16, 2005 12:00 AM

Accidents will happen. But, as any insurance company will tell you, most accidents could have been prevented. That’s what allows an accident to become a tragedy.
Consider Michael Sprinkles. The 37-year-old paramedic was riding his motorcycle home from work on Sept. 6 when the California Highway Patrol says a car crossed the double-yellow line and killed him. Sprinkles’ death could easily have been prevented. The driver of the car shouldn’t have been behind the wheel -- or even in this country. Suspect Juan Bibinz is an illegal alien.

This isn’t Bibinz’s first brush with the law. He’s been arrested a dozen times. “He has been convicted of four felonies, drug charges, thefts and a count of willful cruelty to a child, for which he served five days in jail,” the Los Angeles Daily News reported on Sept. 7. Oh, and he’s been deported to Mexico -- once.

How can an illegal alien be arrested again and again, yet sent home only once? Maybe because it’s official L.A.P.D. policy that officers can’t ask about a suspect’s citizenship. “Special Order 40, enacted in 1979, bars police from enforcing federal immigration laws,” is how the ACLU put it in a 2001 news release. And, it noted, “the Police Commission’s own Independent Review Panel noted how critical the Order is to ensure public safety.” Tell that to Michael Sprinkles.

The ACLU claims that Special Order 40 is “essential.” But a better word for it would be “illegal.” The state’s penal code reads, “Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.” Not much ambiguity there.

Special Order 40 is useful, though. It explains why the United States is facing an illegal immigration crisis: We don’t take illegal immigration seriously.

As David Frum wrote recently in the Weekly Standard, “Imagine if the United States enforced its drug laws the way it enforces its immigration rules. Local governments would be building open-air drug markets the way they now build hiring halls for ‘day labor.’”

It’s even worse than that. Los Angeles not only wants shelters for illegal aliens -- it wants private companies to build them. A draft city ordinance would require stores where illegals gather to provide “a minimum level of amenities” including drinking water and toilets. “This multimillion-dollar business ignores the fact that these problems are created by the stores,” sais the sponsor of the ordinance, City Councilman Bernard Parks.

But retail stores aren’t creating an illegal immigration problem -- they’re dealing with it. The government is creating the problem. After all, if the federal government would enforce its own immigration laws, there wouldn’t be aliens gathered outside Home Depots in California and 7-Elevens in Virginia.

The sad truth is we haven’t actually tried very hard to stop illegal immigration.

We need stronger enforcement along the Mexican border. The recent success of the volunteer Minutemen patrollers shows that if we increase the number of people on the lookout, we can decrease the number of illegal immigrants.

The U.S. also needs to improve living conditions in Mexico, so potential illegal immigrants will have a reason to stay home and illegals here today will have a reason to go home. Such an economic turnaround is possible. Consider India.

Not long ago, India was run by a quasi-communist government. It was virtually impossible to do business there, because there were so many bureaucrats requiring so many bribes. That’s why thousands of well-educated Indians moved to the U.S. But that’s not true today.

In his book “The World Is Flat,” Tom Friedman notes that the economy in India is growing so quickly that many Indians are actually leaving the U.S. to return home. “A whole lot of American industry has come into Bangalore and I don’t really need to go there. I can work for a multinational sitting right here,” personnel manager Anney Unnikrishnan told Friedman. “Why should I go to America?” The free market works.

Mexico has plenty of natural resources, but its economy is still over-regulated. The CIA estimates that one quarter of the population is “under employed,” which explains why they’d be so eager to come to the U.S. If we can convince the Mexican government to move more quickly toward an open, free-market economy, its people would have better lives, and we’d be able to cut down on illegals on the supply side.

Our illegal immigration problem is no accident. It’s the result of decades of neglect. But it can be fixed, if we’re willing to enforce our laws and encourage others to fully adopt our economic values. The only tragedy will be if we don’t try.