A welcome focus on illegal immigration

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 14, 2007

With the recent — belated — decision by the City of Virginia Beach to begin asking criminal suspects about their immigration status, a small but philosophically important step has been taken in the direction of a safer, unambiguous local response to the problem of illegal immigration.

Weeks of negative publicity for the city followed the deaths of two teenage girls in an accident caused by an allegedly drunk illegal alien from Mexico. What started as a sad story that caught national attention soon turned into a spotlighted national scandal, when it was learned that the man who caused the accident had a previous DUI conviction and other run-ins with the law.

Virginia Beach police had a policy that &uot;low-level&uot; suspects were not to be asked whether they were here in America legally. It was not their job to help out Immigration and Customs Enforcement, officials said. That rule was changed after the spotlight of the national media caught city officials in its glare.

Predictably, those calling for tougher enforcement of immigration laws are being called racists and bigots. The focus should be on drunken driving, rather than the person who killed the two girls, some people believe.

The simple fact, however, is that the two Virginia Beach girls would not have been killed if it were not for the fact that an illegal alien was allowed to remain at large in Virginia Beach. If police — or even prosecutors — had shown some interest in the immigration status of a man convicted of drunken driving, he might not have been free to smash into the back of the teens’ stopped car.

It is true that most Americans derive from immigrant stock, but the majority of our immigrant forefathers arrived on our shores legally and quickly began the important process of assimilating into our culture.

The new breed of immigrant, 12 million to 25 million strong, according to some estimates, flouts the law with his very presence, and then demands that American culture make concessions for him and his family. The proverbial melting pot cannot work under such circumstances.

Why should Americans be expected to grant that most precious benefit — citizenship — to those who refuse to participate in and truly join their society?