The Corner

Needed: Broken-Windows Immigration Policing

President Obama’s “prosecutorial discretion” policy in immigration enforcement claimed two more lives Friday. Mexican illegal alien Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte murdered two police officers, and seriously wounded a motorist in the Sacramento area. The cop-killer had been deported twice, the first time for dealing drugs, but was living unmolested in a Salt Lake City suburb with his wife, also charged with the murders.

Prosecutorial discretion is supposed to mean the kind of case-by-case prioritization that every cop has to engage in (“I’m not going to give you a ticket this time, ma’am, but slow down in the future”).

Under this administration, however, it has been used as a pretext for exempting the vast majority of illegal aliens from the immigration laws. Almost the only people who get deported (other than border arrests, which weren’t counted in the statistics as deportations before January 20, 2009) are illegal aliens convicted of major crimes. That’s “convicted” and “major crimes” — if the case is thrown out on a technicality, no matter how depraved the crime, or if a plea bargain is reached, an illegal-alien criminal is off the hook. As Nancy Pelosi put it last year: “If somebody is here without sufficient documentation, that is not reason for deportation.”

This has metastasized such that the entire state of California, as well as Sacramento and Salt Lake City and many other towns and cities nationwide, have become sanctuary jurisdictions, refusing to hold arrested illegal aliens for ICE.

The details of this particular drug-dealing, illegal-alien cop-killer are still closely held by the feds, but he appears to have had a number of encounters with the authorities under various assumed names since returning after his second deportation.

This is important because, while even the most muscular immigration-enforcement effort can’t stop all illegal-alien criminals, routine application of immigration law to anyone and everyone who comes to the attention of the authorities would likely have prevented last week’s tragedy (and many other such tragedies). To wait for an illegal alien to murder police officers, or to gun down a high-school football player, or kill a three-year-old in a booze-fueled vehicular homicide — guarantees more and more such preventable tragedies.

It is hubris to imagine that anti-borders political appointees at DHS headquarters in Washington are able to distinguish the “bad” illegal aliens from the “good” illegal aliens. The Sacramento cop-killer, for instance, looked like one of Jeb Bush’s “act of love” people:

Krista Sorenson of Salt Lake City was confounded by the arrest of the Marquez [one of the murderer’s pseudonyms]. He and his brother had mowed her lawn about four years ago.

“They were just super nice, decent hard-working, trying to figure out how to make a living,” she said.

This is just the kind of person John Sandweg, former acting director of ICE, was referring to when he told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year that “If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero.”

What we need instead is the equivalent of “broken-windows policing” in the immigration context — whenever an illegal alien is arrested for any reason, or stopped for speeding or cited for building code violations or what have you, the default setting for law enforcement is that he be repatriated to his home country. Real prosecutorial discretion would still apply — there may well be individual instances where ICE decides to give an illegal alien a pass. But the expectation, and reality, must be that coming to the attention of law enforcement means the law is, in fact, going to be enforced. And just as New York found that lots of people jumping subway turnstiles and urinating in public were also engaged in more serious crimes, many illegal aliens arrested for drunk driving or drug possession or ID fraud (crimes this White House considers “minor”) are threats to public safety. And just as changed expectations led to a restoration of order under Giuliani, changed expectations of immigration enforcement can make tragedies like last week’s murders less likely.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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