Gentle readers, things have reached a pretty pass in Los Angeles, where, sad to say, the two most influential political constituencies are now the homeless and illegal immigrants. Everyone else, all you citizens and legal immigrants, all you people paying your mortgages or your rent, and most important all you people paying your taxes and keeping the racket running, you’re the marks, and you’re expected to keep paying and be quiet about it.
We’ll leave the homeless aside for our purposes today, turning our attention to illegal immigrants and the inordinate sway they hold over L.A.’s politicians. And in speaking of politicians, I include Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore, who in a display of spineless dishonesty rivaled only by that of the mayor himself, appeared last week alongside Mayor Eric Garcetti to produce a video intended to allay the fears of illegal immigrants facing deportation.
“We’ve all heard reports,” Garcetti says to open the video, “that the Trump administration is threatening to round up and deport thousands of immigrant families this weekend.”
Thus, the mendacity begins with the very first sentence. The deportations, says Garcetti, are to be carried out by the “Trump administration” rather than an agency of the federal government fulfilling its duty under the law. And note the resort to an old and tired deception, the reference to “immigrant families,” eliding the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants.
Garcetti goes on to encourage “every Angeleno to know their rights and how to exercise them.” After reminding his audience they have the right to remain silent, he says, “You don’t have to open your door to an ICE agent who doesn’t have a warrant signed by a judge.” No, Mr. Mayor, we wouldn’t want anyone traipsing onto the premises without permission, would we?
And then comes the part taxpaying rubes will find most galling. “And if you need help finding an attorney,” says Garcetti, “you can call 311and learn more about our Justice Fund and other resources that offer legal support.” The city’s 311 system is intended to be a resource for Los Angeles residents seeking routine services like pothole repair and trash cleanup. In my experience as both a resident and employee of the city, such requests take months to receive attention, if indeed they receive any at all. You can dial 311 until your finger bleeds as you watch the trash pile or homeless encampment multiply outside your door, but if you call to tell them you’re on the run from ICE agents, you’ll get help muy pronto.
And what is the Justice Fund? It provides, partially with public money, legal resources for people facing deportation. Its website informs us that since the fund’s launch in 2017, it has granted $7.4 million “to increase access to legal representation and counsel to individuals and families dealing with deportation and removal proceedings in Los Angeles County.” That’s right, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, you’re on the hook for a portion of that bill, and you won’t even get a thank-you note.
It’s dispiriting but not the least bit unexpected that Mayor Garcetti should stoop to this level of pandering, but to see Chief Moore, in full police uniform, enlisted in this effort is appalling. And Moore is not above mendacity himself. He assures viewers that LAPD officers are not assisting ICE in any way, and goes on to say that the department “will not enforce immigration laws that are civil in nature.”
With this, Chief Moore seeks to propagate the myth that “improper entry,” as it’s called in the statutes, is not a crime. I would refer Chief Moore to Title 8 of the United States Code, Section 1325(a), which prescribes a fine and imprisonment of up to two years for any “alien” who “enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers …” Yes, such prosecutions are rare, but saying unauthorized entry into the country is not a crime is simply a lie, and an especially noxious one coming from the mouth of a police chief. Would the chief grant to his subordinates the same latitude to disregard duly enacted laws if doing so would further some favored political end?
The Los Angeles Times reported on the matter on Thursday. And being the L.A. Times, the editorializing is evident in the story’s very first sentence. “Tensions between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Los Angeles police have ramped up,” it begins, “amid the Trump administration’s loud threats to unleash immigration sweeps.”
“We’re not asking local law enforcement to enforce immigration law,” said David Marin, an ICE official in Los Angeles. “So when politicians and others come out and say we will not be helping ICE, we will not be enforcing immigration law — I don’t know where that rhetoric comes from because we’re not asking them to do that.”
We know exactly where that rhetoric comes from. In making their video, Mayor Garcetti and Chief Moore have very purposefully placed LAPD officers in an untenable position. The day will come when some illegal immigrant will call the police and ask to be protected from the ICE agents seeking to detain him. And when that happens, what will those police officers be expected to do? The answer should be a straightforward one: enforce the law. Unfortunately, with the city’s politics being what they are, and with those politics having permeated the upper command staff of the LAPD, an officer with an eye on advancement will have to consider what effect on his career might occur should he not exert himself in favor of the illegal immigrant. Such an exertion will probably earn that officer a departmental commendation and a glowing profile in the Los Angeles Times.
Which is exactly the mentality the mayor and the chief hope to instill in the rank and file of the LAPD. We are a nation of laws, we are told, except when the mayor and the chief say we’re not.