The congruence of two recent Washington Post front page stories can hardly be over looked. You can`t avoid contrasting the actions taken to solve these problems by so-very-tippy-toe elected officials with sensible initiatives taken mostly by private, thinking citizens who have forced changes.
The first story:
to my delight and surprise, I found a front page, Sunday, January 11th news column in the Washington Post entitled Attitudes Shift on Illegal ResidentsSome|Link Crime In Montgomery To Immigration [By Dan Morse and Ann E. Marimow]. It actually uses the term "illegal" and finally reports in considerable detail on something which most of that county`s residents have felt for years.
Of course the reporters had to make it appear like a sudden change in citizens` attitudes:
"For years, mainstream Montgomery County has been generally accepting of illegal immigrants, and county leaders followed suit, pledging not to enforce immigration laws even as police agencies elsewhere in the region began to do so.
"But public sentiment appears to be shifting in Montgomery, driven less by ideology than by alarm over rising crime and the recent slayings of a 14-year-old honor student on a county transit bus and a 63-year-old woman in her Bethesda home.
"`People who are very, very tolerant want to see some changes,` said County Council member Marc Elrich [Email him] (D-At Large), one of five council members who said in interviews that public opinion has shifted in recent months."
Sorry, Mr. Elrich, I don`t buy your lame excuse that the whole county just woke up, when poll after national poll shows over 70% of all citizens are concerned about the immigration invasion.
Even in Takoma Park, long known as "The People`s Republic of Takoma Park," where "since 1985 [the city] has officially refused to identify or report undocumented immigrants". The Post reports that Mr. Elrich "said crime has `really hit home` even in his neighborhood of Takoma Park" .
Especially when "Mariana Cordier, who grew up in the county and is a past president of the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association, said residents are increasingly linking crime to illegal immigration." This is national, folks, so get with the facts.
The second Post story:
On Monday, January 12th, I find another Post front pager: Once Scorned, Deer Hunters Find Welcome in Suburban Md., [By Steve Hendrix , January 12, 2009]. It tells us:
"A year ago, this would have been illegal: Mark Eakin, a federal oceanographer and avid deer hunter, sat in a portable tree stand with his bow at the ready, overlooking a small creek and two Rockville back yards on a cold January morning. As the camo-clad Eakin peered down, the weekday routine rolled down the street behind him, school buses, trash trucks and commuters heading toward Wootton Parkway...Eakin, who has bagged eight deer since bow season began in September...[is] one of several hunters, game officials and residents to hail Montgomery County`s surprising emergence as ...a deer hunting haven."
As a resident living near the border of this county. overlooking a view of the 2,000 acre Rock Creek Park, I can tell you the deer population is expanding without restriction. They have no predators and they eat everything you can plant except daisies and–please, horticulturists, give us some ideas–we long ago gave up tulips which the little dears eat like bon bons.
I was raised in a small Western Pennsylvania town, where the first day of deer hunting season was reason to give kids a day off school. I have often wondered when the huge number of these creatures would trigger a reasonable citizen reaction. Were we too effete or too feckless to care?
Now we have seen one sensible reaction. Is this the start of something bigger?
The story continues:
"Last season, Eakin`s Rockville perch would have been prohibited as too close to a road. But now he is able to set up his stand with the permission of surrounding homeowners. `It`s not that people embrace the hunting,` said Eakin, who belongs to a group of volunteer archers who hunt at the request of neighborhoods with large deer populations, `but they know something needs to be done.` Behind Montgomery`s new openness to hunting, officials said, is public frustration with the whitetail population boom. Crumpled fenders, ruined gardens and the risk of Lyme disease have made residents much more receptive to hunters."
"They`ve gone from `How dare you propose shooting the deer` to `When are you coming to my neighborhood?` " said Rob Gibbs, head of Montgomery`s Deer Management Working Group".
John Yakaitis, 62, has watched increasing numbers of deer destroy his shrubs and the surrounding forest understory. His wife hit a deer two years ago, doing more than $1,000 in damage to their car. `There are just so many of them, they`re eating everything in sight and they`re still starving,` Yakaitis said. `A lot of folks who were opposed to it are signing up` to allow hunters, he said. "
In fact, I suppose when it happens to an elected official, as it did when a council member, George Leventhal (D-At Large) was injured in a deer collision on the Capital Beltway, suffering serious facial damage that required reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins, action to make sensible laws quickly follows.
Hey, are we getting to see the parallels yet with dear deers and the immigrant invasion yet? Perhaps some of these elite Congressional members will need to be attacked by illegal aliens, or improperly vetted legal ones, before they see the light.
Sensible laws on deer thinning can be constructed to make sure citizens are not endangered by firearms or even bows and arrows. The hunters should be vetted carefully, so they are in effect like our Border Patrol, fully professional and licensed. Why not?
But to do nothing is exactly what our Federal elected officials did about human immigration policy since 1965 until finally it got so out of whack. Even now the new Congress doesn`t seem to get it. It seems, even amidst this deep recession, that proper measures taken now will be deemed by the bleeding hearts, ethnic and ideological lobbyists, and by their corporate puppet masters as examples of "nativism" or "racism".
Back to the illegal (and please also the overdone legal) immigration situation. We can be glad Montgomery`s elected officials finally found it expedient to edge into their version of the truth, which they must have known for years. Their citizens had surely understood the situation for years, but now, with crime as just one element of the problem, these leaders say they begin to "get it".
Guess these elected folks in Montgomery realize they better do something or their reelection may be on the line. A small step was recently taken by County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger who, the story reports, is "developing a proposal to have county police officers check the immigration status of suspects arrested for violent crimes and weapons offenses."
When I was an officer in the Navy, one of my Chief Petty Officers would often opine that standard military refrain, "There`s always that 2% who don`t get the word." Enter Bethesda resident Judy Campbell, "I wouldn`t have gone for it a year ago," when interviewed recently, leaving a natural food co-op in Takoma Park with soy milk and a slice of vegan double-chocolate fudge cake. "Until this series of violent crimes, it wasn`t on my radar screen."
Admittedly so-called "liberals" such as Campbell, a 50-year-old nurse, have been among those slow to "get it". And in fact the article reports that "She thinks illegal immigrants deserve publicly funded health care."
However, Campbell now "supports the chief`s efforts, in part because the emerging proposal is not as far-reaching as policies that have been enacted in Prince William and Frederick counties." Do something but not enough to really get the job done...great thinking, Ms. Campbell.
Ms. Campbell unfortunately is joined by a typical deaf to the facts–or afraid of the facts—official, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), [email him] who claims he has detected no major shift in public sentiment. Leggett, who in the past has said Montgomery should not be in the business of enforcing immigration laws, would have to approve the Chief`s proposal before it could take effect. Sounds like one guy to dis-elect.
Naturally, the Post reports "Opponents hope to persuade him to reject the idea, which they say would result in racial or ethnic profiling that could ensnare innocent people. State Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez [email her] (D-Montgomery) and other opponents said residents would reject the proposal if they understood its consequences more fully."
You mean they would reject you when they hear you are against reasonable law enforcement, don`t you, Ms. Gutierrez?
The irrationality of past practice is underlined by this quote: "The proposal is a departure from past practice for a police agency that has cultivated relations with immigrant communities. The department has long taken the position that delving into immigration matters could jeopardize cooperation from crime victims and witnesses, undermining public safety."
But then that is the political flavor of Takoma Park. Wonder what this team of Post reporters would have found if they hadn`t concentrated their research there?
Their acid test of need for change must be that you first need to run you car into an errant deer or get shot by an illegal alien?
This kind of thinking denotes that it is better to harbor dangerous illegal aliens among those who are here legally, rather than find out who is legal and who is not. This of course follows the common refrain of local officials who always avoid the unfunded by proper Federal funding, the cost of policing the illegal alien problem. As more and more complain, the noise level will perhaps reach the office holders, who as noted above, don`t want to be turned out of office.
Indeed, "Serious crime is up 7.7 percent in Montgomery, a trend driven by increases in home and car break-ins across the county."
Typical Post reportorial comment: " Police acknowledge that they do not know how much of that increase, if any, is attributable to illegal immigrants." Oh, please!!!!
Especially after the article tells us that "As of a week ago, eight of 16 people held in the county jail on murder charges had immigration detainers placed on them, meaning federal authorities might move to deport them after their criminal cases have run their course."
A big deal with illegal alien advocates is concern about racial profiling. Give me a break. If people are arrested for a crime, they should be asked for identification. A driver`s license, a home address, a Social Security number. What is so hard about getting information on that?
The plain truth is that the way we have allowed this immigration situation to deteriorate caused the problem. Lax enforcement over decades at every level of government, but particularly at the Federal level, has brought us to this fix, just like the mortgage crisis and the various scams perpetrated on Wall Street.
Round`em up and ship`em out should have been our action all along with illegal aliens. These people are either here legally or illegally. Find out. Two of the Montgomery murder suspects "are illegal immigrants whose status went undetected during previous arrests in the county."
County Executive Leggett is faced with a decision on this proposal by month`s end, but says he wants to "use all reasonable tools to get criminals off the street but is concerned about the potential for profiling. `You don`t want to punish or stereotype people in a way that is unfair and illegal.`"
Talk about trying to escape fulfilling the responsibility for which he was elected.
The Post reports that "Police officials have not said how officers would determine whom to press on the question of status, or what kind of training they would need to carry out the policy effectively." Cripes, you have a felon and you can`t ID him? Where are Mickey Spillane or Sam Spade when we need them? Just like the deer infestation, we know when we have too many and now is the time to fix this.
Many citizens, including one local activist group called Help Save Maryland, are demanding action on this plan. And while you are at it, Mr. Leggett, how about insuring that all illegal aliens are denied public services?
Unfortunately, nearby Prince George`s County is "governed by a 2003 County Council resolution directing them to refrain from enforcing immigration laws". Hard to believe.
How about cutting off Federal funding for any jurisdiction which fails to obey Federal laws?? You know, just like the 55 MPH law was enforced on states, by withholding Federal Highway money.
Prince William County, for example, has gotten tougher, and, as the Post story notes, "requires that officers ask about the status of everyone they place under arrest." In Frederick County, "as part of a partnership with federal immigration authorities, all people booked into the county jail are questioned about their citizenship. The answers can trigger more questions and a call to federal agents."
Deer me—have we learned anything after all these years of immivasion experience? Not enough, but some, apparently.
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.