More than a few pundits and commentators have called the Oct. 7 debate between Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama a snoozer because the two candidates didn't go at each other. Whether you concur or not with their assessment, one thing is certain, the candidates are not being grilled on the issue of illegal immigration and its inextricable link to our economic well-being and our national security.
Exhibit A is a violent snapshot from Mr. McCain's home county, Maricopa County, Ariz. It unveils, in brutally honest facts and candid law-enforcement comments, what happens when sanctuary and amnesty policies tied the hands of law enforcers in Phoenix.
Phoenix police reported more than 350 extortion-related kidnappings in 2007 and the city is now known as America's "kidnap capital." A special unit trying to arrest the problem is also grappling with something dubbed "virtual kidnapping," whereby a criminal claims it has kidnapped a relative, friend or associate of another criminal and threatens physical harm if that other criminal fails to pay a ransom. The ransoms range from $50,000 to $1 million.
"Phoenix is ground zero for illegal narcotics and illegal human smuggling in the United States, Phoenix Detective Phil Roberts says. "There's a lot of illegal cash out there in the valley, and a lot of people want to get their hands on it."
Even the innocent are being snatched off the streets. A 14-year-old girl standing in front of the home of a known drug dealer was mistaken as the dealer's daughter by armed abductors. Blessedly she was released. Other victims have not been as fortunate.
Illegals and other parts of the black market enterprise known as human trafficking often use what is called a "drop house." Arizona authorities raided once such house just this week and found 11 illegals and six traffickers. "[T]he illegal immigrants told police that they were held against their will and some were beaten, kicked and struck with pistols because their family members couldn't come up with ransom money," the East Valley Tribune reported on Oct. 8.
Kidnappings aren't Phoenix and Maricopa's only crime problem tied to illegals. "Illegal immigrants account for one-third of drug convictions, 85 percent of criminal impersonation or fake ID convictions, 44 percent of forgery convictions and 20 percent of felony DUI convictions. Nearly 20 percent of all convicted criminals in Maricopa County are illegal aliens and 21 percent of jail inmates are in the country illegally," said Judicial Watch's Corruption Chronicles Blog. The site goes on to report that in Arizona alone: Illegals are responsible for 13 percent of stolen autos, 11 percent of murders and 10 percent of sex crimes.
How does this affect Main Street? It is estimated that every violent crime costs Joe Six Pack and Harriett Homeowner $20,000.
When the economy was in better shape, Americans were in better shape to look the other way — our elected leaders trying to earn their keep inside the Beltway certainly did. While Main Streeters were telling the occupants of the Capitol to reject amnesty legislation, John McCain reached across the aisle to his Democratic friend Ted Kennedy on comprehensive immigration reform.
Consider this: Officer Nick Erfle was doing what we witness our officers doing every day, when, about a year ago, he and his partner approached three jaywalkers. One man drew a gun and mortally shot Officer Erfle in the face, and then carjacked and kidnapped the driver. Police killed the gunman in a standoff. And guess what? The gunman was an illegal alien who had a felony record, had been deported in 2006 but managed to re-enter the country.
Phoenix, of course, isn't the only city where illegals are committing abductions, dealing drugs and killing our law enforcers, or even committing such misdemeanors as jaywalking, graffiti, urinating in public, etc. They and American-born citizens are doing that and more all across America.
What's also criminal, though, is that neither Mr. McCain nor Mr. Obama is talking about it — and their campaigns can't hide behind, "Well, the economy is just too important." Indeed, while the economy has been the No. 1 issue on Americans' minds all year, the campaigns didn't even pay attention until Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said the sky was falling.
Well, long before Mr. Paulson clued us in, Americans were begging for tougher immigration enforcement — and just like Washington waited too late to "fix" the financial markets, so, too, is Washington playing footsies with illegal aliens.
It's easy to figure out how much taxpayers spend per month on each $20,000 violent crime that is committed in Any City, USA. That's frightening enough. What's even more spooky is that while officers are losing their lives preventing crime, officers are also using valuable hours trying to save the lives of criminals who have been kidnapped by other criminals.
Some of the costs of illegal immigration are hidden no longer. Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain should be challenged accordingly.
Deborah Simmons is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. dsimmons@washington times.com.