Immigration and Broken Windows

Published on February 24th, 2012

The concept of the “Broken Windows” approach to law enforcement was first postulated in an Atlantic magazine article entitled, "Broken Windows: The police and neighborhood safety” written by two renowned academics, George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson.

This approach called for aggressively going after the “small crimes” to discourage more significant crimes.  When Rudy Giuliani took office as Mayor of the City of New York he brought in Bill Bratton to head up the NYPD. Bratton subscribed to the broken windows concept as did Mayor Giuliani.  As a result, the members of the NYPD were ordered to go after the graffiti “artists,” the “squeegee men” who would approach cars stuck in traffic and aggressively solicit money from the hapless motorists who were intimidated by these panhandlers and also seek to arrest subway turnstile jumpers.

In 2008 an article was published that reported on the findings of a Dutch experiment that appear to have substantiated the validity of the broken windows concept where law enforcement is concerned.

Under Giuliani's administration, the New York City crime rate plummeted as did the murder rate.  Many factors undoubtedly came into play but there are those who attribute a substantial drop in the crime rate on the broken-windows approach aggressively pursued by the NYPD.  The point is that Giuliani came to regard this approach to law enforcement to make perfect sense.  However, where immigration is concerned, Giuliani refused to accept the fact that by not enforcing immigration laws and, in fact, advocating for providing illegal aliens with “lawful status” that a dangerous message was being sent to millions of illegal aliens and aspiring illegal aliens all over the world; that in the United States you cannot only break our laws and expect to get away with violating our borders and our laws, but that you will also be richly rewarded.  Giuliani was apparently more concerned with those who would jump the NYC Transit Authority turnstiles, to save a $1.25 fare, than he was with illegal aliens who jumped our borders!

When the President of the United States and high ranking members of his administration as well as leaders in Congress, on both sides of the political aisle, advocate for providing illegal aliens with pathways to United States citizenship, people around the world understandably take encouragement that our nation's borders are the “finish line” and all that they need to do is cross that line, no matter how they do so, and they will be entitled to the “Keys to the Kingdom!”

This perception is reinforced and further amplified by the fact that a number of state governors and city mayors have turned their jurisdictions into “sanctuaries” for unknown millions of illegal aliens whose true identities, countries of citizenship, backgrounds, potential affiliation with criminal or terrorist organizations is unknown and unknowable.  This “invitation” encourages still more illegal aliens to violate our nation's borders and immigration laws and impacts virtually every challenge and threat our nation and our citizens face ranging from national security and criminal justice and community safety to the economy, unemployment rates, the environment, healthcare, community safety and education.

The 9/11 Commission Report and the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel did an in-depth analysis of how the terrorists who attacked our nation on September 11, 2001 were able to enter the United States and embed themselves in our country as they prepared to launch the worst terrorist attack ever carried out on our soil.

The first paragraph from the preface of that report states that:

It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one.

And a paragraph under the title “Immigration Benefits" found on page 98 says that:

Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.

It is absolutely impossible to comprehend how, given all of these facts, there is even a debate about whether or not our borders should be secured and our immigration laws be enforced in such a way as to deprive terrorists the opportunity to enter our country and embed themselves in our country.

It is similarly impossible to comprehend why there is any controversy to be found in enforcing immigration laws to make certain that Americans are provided with jobs at a time of record levels of unemployment.

When will our government fix our nation's windows?

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