The left is all atwitter this morning about the shouting match broadcast last night on Bill O’Reilly’s show between the host and Geraldo Rivera. The issue was an incendiary one alright - an illegal alien named Albert Ramos, arrested several times previously for alcohol related crimes, murdered two teenagers when he slammed into their car while driving drunk.
It is a shame that both men couldn’t have kept a lid on their emotions because there are serious issues involved here. Should Ramos have been identified as an illegal alien and deported following his previous arrests? Is it the job of state and local officials to enforce immigration laws? Is there anything that could have been done to avoid this tragedy?
Here’s the video, courtesy of You Tube:
Then there is the question of whether immigration issues should even be raised in response to the tragedy:
O’Reilly told Allison Kuhndhart’s father and sister during his show, “The authorities in your town would not obey the law, defied the law of the land and somebody needs to be held accountable sir. I want you to keep in touch with us. We’re gonna get the mayor, Oberndorf and the judge, Whitehurst, because they’re the villains.”
During the news conference, Mayor Meyera Oberndorf said she has never even O’Reilly’s show and did not mention him by name throughout the conference.
The mayor and Tessa Tranchant’s father both said that making an issue out of immigration loses the focus that the girls were killed by a man that police said was driving drunk.
Ray Tranchant said, “We need to heal, and to bring immigration, that’s disrespectful to a family who’s just mourning.”
Hard to argue with that sentiment. The problem is that this is not the first time an illegal alien has committed murder and brought tragedy to a family - not by a long shot. There have been dozens of cases across the country where it is more than likely that some innocent would be alive today if we took border security seriously. And in each case, local and state authorities take the cop out position that it is the job of the federal government to enforce immigration laws, not theirs.
I disagree strongly with that excuse. The state or local authorities are well within their rights to hand over an illegal alien to USCIS for committing a felony. The problem, of course, is that the Feds don’t want to deal with the problem either. So in a bizarre echo of “don’t ask don’t tell,” illegal aliens are allowed to continue their criminal activities, safe in the knowledge that they can prey upon American citizens and not worry about having their criminal careers in the US interrupted by a stricter enforcement of the law.
This is an indefensible position so Rivera ignored the immigration aspect of the case and tried to point out that it was a question of drunk driving, nothing more. I know what Rivera was trying to say - that it was wrong to bring “politics” into the case - and in a perfect world, at some other time in American history, he would probably be absolutely correct.
But how can one ignore the singular fact that this tragedy need not have happened? If we had a rational immigration and border policy, it is more than likely that Mr. Ramos would not have been on American soil to kill those two teenagers. This uncomfortable fact was not addressed by Mr. Rivera nor anyone in the open borders crowd. Instead, we get platitudes about how vital immigrants are to this country and how much they have contributed to the richness of our culture and our economy.
I do not begrudge legal immigrants these marvelous accomplishments. And I would strongly support - as part of a rational immigration policy - a tripling of legal immigration. It seems to me that if we can dramatically reduce border incursions by illegals we can certainly massively increase the number of people who want to go through the legal process of immigration and make an orderly entry into America. While there are no reliable statistics to prove it, anecdotal evidence from immigration attorneys would suggest that people who go through that process are much more motivated to make a living, learn English, and eventually become citizens.
But as the shouting match between O’Reilly and Rivera showed in microcosm, it is much easier for people to talk past each other rather than come to some kind of meeting of the minds on a rational borders and immigration policy. The time and place for that debate can be questioned in this case. But the issues raised cannot be.
My brother Jim, a folksinger who has performed with some of the legends in that genre, sent me an interesting email the other day with a link to a funny song by Bob Haworth about immigration.
“Can You Get Me In?” Here are some of the lyrics:
CAN YOU GET ME IN?
Words & Music by Bob Haworth
Copyright 2006 - Three Cats Music, BMI
All Rights Reserved
WELL, I WROTE MY CONGRESSMAN TO LET HIM KNOW
THAT Iâ€™M THINKINâ€™ â€˜BOUT HEADINâ€™ DOWN TO MEXICO
AND I WAS HOPINâ€™ HE COULD PULL SOME STRINGS
TO GET ME IN
YA SEE, I DONâ€™T WANNA BOTHER WITH LEGALITIES
NO PASSPORTS OR VISAS, IF YOU PLEASE
Iâ€™M JUST ASKINâ€™ FOR THE SAME DEAL THERE
THAT WE GIVE THEM
AND I SAID,
â€œCAN YOU GET ME IN? CAN YOU GET ME IN?
I MIGHT STAY FOR AWHILE AND PRETEND Iâ€™M A CITIZEN
BUT I DONâ€™T WANNA LEARN THEIR NATIVE TONGUE
AND I WONâ€™T PAY TAXES â€“ THATâ€™S NO FUN!
I JUST WANNA START A BRAND NEW LIFE
IF YOU CAN GET ME INâ€
NOW I PLAN TO TAKE THE WHOLE FAMILY
ALL MY COUSINS, MY SIBLINGS AND EVEN AUNT BEA
WEâ€™D ALL LIKE JOBS AND A REAL NICE PLACE TO LIVE
I WANT MY KIDS IN AN ENGLISH SPEAKING SCHOOL
I WANT FOOD STAMPS AND HEALTH CARE â€“ Iâ€™M NO FOOL
â€˜CAUSE ALL THAT STUFF IS MY PREROGATIVE!
And the video. Go ahead and sing along. You know you want to. (Additional lyrics here at the bottom of the page.)
I’ve never really felt my classically liberal brother out about immigration. But he lives in southern California and taught “English as a second language” classes for many years at a local Junior College at night. I daresay he probably doesn’t agree with the sentiments expressed by Mr. Haworth in his little ditty. But he knew that I would so I have to express my appreciation for his passing it along.