The Corner

Illegals & Crime

The MacDonald City Journal piece is worth reading, but it is important to note that the policies she describes are largely local policies against enforcing federal immigration law, even against those who are guilty of other crimes. This is certainly a problem. But I don’t accept MacDonald’s premise that America’s cities are filled with illegal alien gang-bangers because the federal government is not doing enough to prosecute companies that are willing to hire illegals for otherwise honest work. I doubt that those illegal aliens who join drug gangs are the same illegals who cross the border in search of otherwise honest employment. They’re here to make money through crime (which, like other work, can provide signficiantly higher pay in the U.S. than in Mexico). Reducing the availability of jobs for immigrants on farms or in Wal-Marts won’t reduce the allure of coming to America to deal drugs or be a gang-banger. Indeed, I suspect dealing drugs on the streets of L.A. is already far more lucrative than working on a farm in sourthern California. In my view, immigration policy should deal harshly with aliens who commit violent crimes in the U.S., but should be more hospitable to those who cross the border in search of otherwise honest work. Further, I believe the way to do this is not to forego enforcement of existing law but, rather, to change existing law, as Bush has proposed).

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.