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National Review Online


L.A. and the Politics of Sanctuary Cities

September 13, 2010

By Heather Mac Donald

The aftermath of the fatal shooting of a Guatemalan illegal alien by Los Angeles police officer continues to provide a breathtaking window into the politics of a sanctuary city. The chief of the Los Angeles Police Department is now blaming “anti-immigrant sentiment” in the U.S. for the rioting that broke out in the wake of the shooting.

On the night of September 5, pedestrians in the heavily Hispanic Westlake area near downtown Los Angeles flagged down three LAPD bike officers to protect them from a man who had been threatening passersby, including a pregnant woman, with a vicious, saw-toothed knife. The officers, two of whom were Hispanic, told Manuel Jaminez to drop the knife several times in Spanish and English; instead, he lunged at them with the knife held over his head. One of the officers fired two rounds at the 37-year-old Jimenez, killing him.

The shooting — clearly justified under the facts as reported — triggered two days of rioting in the Westlake neighborhood; vandals hurled bottles and rocks at police cars and the local police station. To his credit, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has called the officer who shot Jaminez a hero and said it was outrageous that residents at an angry police-community meeting after the shooting labeled police chief Charles Beck a “murderer.” But Beck himself, in all other matters a tough, street-wise cop, has been astoundingly conciliatory, beyond even what his unequivocal support for Los Angeles’s sanctuary policy, Special Order 40, would predict.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Friday, Beck blamed the riots on the fact that the city does not pay sufficient attention to the overwhelmingly illegal population of the impoverished Westlake area and on “anti-immigrant sentiment”:

”This community feels disconnected from the city,” he said. “They feel like they don’t have a voice. I think they feel a lot of pressure because of the anti-immigrant sentiment that runs through a very common conversation in America right now.”

So Beck promised to make amends by reaching out even further to the illegal-alien “community” and by continuing to build a trusting relationship with them. “We’ll get through this [moment of distrust],” he said. “We’ll come back with a stronger relationship because of it.”

Such an analysis was of course catnip to the Los Angeles Times, which still to my knowledge — though I may have missed the reference — has not mentioned the fact that Jaminez, like most of his adult neighbors, was illegal. The record does not reflect whether the Times asked Beck to explain how alleged “anti-immigrant sentiment” in America would provoke illegal aliens to try to destroy police property in Los Angeles, much less how the “pressure” from such sentiment could be offered as a quasi-justification for the rioting. Instead, the Times went on to consult an illegal-alien advocate who accused Beck and the city of not doing enough to show their respect for the illegal Central American community in Westlake. Said Carlos Vaquerano, executive director of SALEF, the Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund:

”This is about a lack of respect for this community from the city. The mayor, the chief — they need to reach out to us and show us the respect we deserve.” [Vaquerano] agreed with Beck that many immigrants in Westlake feel neglected among the scores of distinct ethnic communities that dot the city. “We are a large number of people. We’re paying taxes, whether we’re documented or not. And still no one in the city leadership pays attention to us.”

(As for not being paid attention to, SALEF’s website lists its sponsors as Southern California Edison, Wells Fargo Bank, the Southern California Gas Company, the Dodgers, and the late Washington Mutual, hardly inconsequential institutions; whether SALEF also receives government support was not disclosed.)

Beck’s analysis, identical to the mainstream media’s template for discussing illegal immigration, represents the total dissolution of any distinction between legal and illegal immigrants. People in the country illegally have an absolute claim on the attention of America’s public officials, as well as on spending from America’s public coffers. Their “voice” should compete in the political arena on an equal basis as that of citizens and immigrants who obeyed U.S. laws from the moment that they entered the country. The burden is on the public and the government to show their respect for illegal aliens, not on illegal aliens to show their respect for the country by obeying its laws.

But sanctuary-supporting police and government officials may find it difficult to distinguish between the laws that they believe should be obeyed and those that they feel can be ignored with impunity. The massive unbridled immigration flows to which sanctuary policies capitulate are bringing with them Third World mores. Many of the Central American immigrants of the Westlake area resent the LAPD’s efforts to clean up their chaotic street-peddling, according to the Associated Press, a practice that is ubiquitous in the anemic, corruption-plagued economies of Latin America. Trying to enforce First World norms of civilized public space in Third World immigrant communities is going to breed tensions; when the authorities trying to enforce those norms simultaneously declare that legal norms regarding national sovereignty and border control are nugatory, they shouldn’t be surprised if their own “voices” don’t get much “respect.”

Original Source:



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