Friday, August 24, 2007

Walberg Exploits Tragedy For Politics

Most of you have probably heard about the tragic deaths of three college students in New Jersey and the controversy that has ensued. One of the six suspects, Jose Carranza, was found to be an illegal immigrant from Peru. He had been out on bail for other crimes when the murders took place.

As would be expected, the cable news channels jumped on the story, examining the New Jersey laws that could have prevented this. In New Jersey, immigration officials are notified after the conviction, not after the arrest, of an illegal immigrant. This may change in the near future and, admittedly, could perhaps have prevented this one incident.

The media coverage is understandable, if a little inappropriate. However, I didn't expect Congressman Tim Walberg to mention it:
Washington, Aug 24 - Though the immigration debate may have cooled for now in Congress, immigration issues continue to affect most Americans every day.

On August 4, four young college students were held at gunpoint in Newark, New Jersey by an illegal immigrant. Three of the students were killed, while the fourth escaped with injuries.

Sadly, news broke that the shooter came to America illegally from Peru, and, despite prior arrests in 2007, including one for the rape of a young girl, the shooter was not forced to leave American soil. This is simply unacceptable, yet communities across our country are forced to deal with similar situations involving illegal immigrants every day in their schools, hospitals, police stations, etc.

Illegal immigration poses an unacceptable threat to our national security and must not be allowed to continue. It is my belief that any and all attempts to enact immigration reform must not include amnesty for illegal immigrants.
I simply cannot believe that he brought this up. How do you go from three tragic deaths to "national security" to "reform must not include amnesty"? Reading what he writes, one would get the idea that there are roaming gangs of illegal immigrants planning to attack, and the only way to prevent it would be defeating the "guest-worker program"!

Walberg implies that illegal immigrants are a primary source of violent crime in this country, but that is simply not true:
"The misperception that immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, are responsible for higher crime rates is deeply rooted in American public opinion and is sustained by media anecdotes and popular myth," said Ruben G. Rumbaut, a sociology professor at the University of California-Irvine. "This perception is not supported empirically. In fact, it is refuted by the preponderance of scientific evidence."

The incarceration rate of U.S.- born men 18 to 39 years old in 2000 was 3.5 percent — five times higher than the incarceration rate of their immigrant counterparts, the study found.

The report — which analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau, police records and other sources — also shows that a large increase in illegal immigrants has not resulted in a rise in crime. Since 1994, violent crime in the United States has declined 34 percent, and property crime has fallen 26 percent. At the same time, the illegal immigrant population has doubled to around 12 million.
Tim Walberg's position on illegal immigration is a valid opinion, which I can agree or disagree with. But when he cites one tragic incident, involving one person out of 12 million, and embraces false, potentially racist stereotypes, he crosses the line.

There are plenty of violent criminals in this country legally, and most of them were born here. Crime is a serious problem that needs our government's attention, but it's dishonest to try to blame illegal immigrants.

Men and women are murdered every day in this country, and each time it happens, it's a tragedy. Those deaths and other crimes justify more police, or tougher sentencing, or working toward better education and economic opportunity.

They do not justify tougher immigration laws or border patrol. That is simply an unrelated issue. Congressman Walberg ought to apologize.

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We should try another recall based on this type of crap. Whipping up little old ladies to be afraid of all the brown people is a sick way to firm up your base, Congressman.
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