Those who go on and on about being humane toward illegal immigrants attempting to cross over into the United States miss the point that their very actions and rhetoric serves as a beacon that invites thousands of poor and destitute people, as well as the criminal element, to come to the United States by any means.
As bad as the conditions are in their homelands, the trek to the United States can be far worst. It is wrought with safety and security hazards as the illegals are victimized and brutalized by the criminals who prey on them on the long road to the U.S. border.
I was thinking of this recently as I was rereading Joseph Wambaugh’s 1984 nonfiction book “Lines and Shadows.” Mr. Wambaugh, a former Los Angeles Police Department detective sergeant and best-selling author, takes the reader inside the Border Crime Task Force, a small group of San Diego police officers, mostly Mexican American cops, who patrolled the vast, snake-and criminal-invested canyons along the California/Mexico border.
These tough cops took on the violent criminals who robbed, raped and murdered defenseless men, women and children trying to cross over the border. Disguising themselves as illegals, they fought and shot it out with the bad guys along the border. The book is dramatic, sad and insightful, and contains ample doses of Mr. Wambaugh’s authentic cop dialogue and his signature black humor.
I interviewed Mr. Wambaugh a few years back. One of his original goals in writing books, it had been reported, was to humanize the image of police officers. Did he, I asked, largely succeed with his novels, nonfiction books, films and the TV series, “Police Story?”
“Oh, yeah, sure,” Mr. Wambaugh replied. “If I don’t humanize them, that is make them come to life as human beings, then no one is going to read my stuff and I’m a failure. That’s what I mean by humanize, bring them to life. I don’t mean clean up their image.”
In “Lines and Shadows,” Mr. Wambaugh humanized illegal immigrants as well as cops.
Although my heart goes out to the illegals who are victimized by criminals, I also know what Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen noted at a White House press briefing last year, which is that entering the United States illegally is — by definition — a crime. I’m saddened by the increase in children crossing the border illegally with parents and other adults. Trudging a child across the border illegally is a reckless action that is akin to a parent taking a child along on a burglary or car theft.
As Stephen Dinan reported here at the time, Ms. Nielsen warned that the illegal immigrant caravan heading toward the United States could be exploited by cartels that control most of the illegal flow of people through Latin America.
“Warnings of a get-tough policy from U.S. officials have done little to deter the migrants, who for years have seen relatives and neighbors easily jump the border to enter the U.S. with little consequence,” Mr. Dinan wrote. “The ease of entering is a selling point for the cartels, who control the drug and human smuggling routes into the U.S. and require payment of a ‘mafia fee’ just to cross the U.S.-Mexico boundary line. Court records show that fee typically runs from $1,000 to $2,000. That doesn’t include thousands of dollars in other fees that cover foot guides, drivers, stash houses and the rest of the illegal journey.”
Mr. Dinan offered a quote from Ms. Nielsen, “While we closely monitor the caravan crisis, we must remain mindful of the transnational criminal organizations and other criminals that prey on the vulnerabilities of those undertaking the irregular migration journey.”
With poor border security and many public officials and pundits welcoming illegals with open arms, many illegal immigrants think the risk of becoming a crime victim is worth the benefit of entering the United States — even with small children in tow.
Last month, Ms. Nielsen released a statement on another illegal migrant wave.
“Approximately 2,000 aliens have arrived in northern Mexico as part of a ‘caravan’ seeking to cross our Southern Border into Texas. Illegal entry will not be tolerated, and we stand ready to prevent it,” the statement read. “Such caravans are the result of Congress’s inexcusable failure to fully fund a needed physical barrier and unwillingness to fix outdated laws that act as an enormous magnet for illegal aliens. This crisis won’t be solved until we have comprehensive border security. Until then, DHS will do everything in its power — with the assistance of federal and state partners — to hold smugglers and traffickers accountable, enforce our laws, and keep American communities safe.”
• Paul Davis covers crime, espionage and terrorism.