Image via Wikipedia“The Wire” is one of the greatest television shows of the past decade. More than the quality of character development or the top-notch production, it's a show that makes you think (but then again I'm white so I may be genetically predisposed to like the show). Anyhow, it's along that line that this post draws it's inspiration.
“The bigger the lie, the more they believe.”
In season 3 of the show, Lieutenant “Bunny” Colvin becomes increasingly tired of the Baltimore PD’s constant focus on “jooking the stats” (i.e. turning felonies into misdemeanors, making lesser crimes disappear, etc…) and overall inability to address street crime and drug trafficking effectively. Upon realizing the fruitlessness of his efforts, he starts to think outside the box and responds by creating a decriminalized drug zone in the western district of Baltimore jokingly coined “Hamsterdam.” Here’s a quick clip explaining his thinking:
To summarize, Lt. Colvin uses a metaphor to compare legalizing drugs in the worst part of town to the usage of a brown paper bag to prevent ticketing a man for drinking in public. Essentially creating a lawful way for people to hide their relatively minor indiscretions to allow the police to focus on larger crimes without undermining their authority. This idea was on my mind the other day as I drove down Ross Avenue and passed by one of Dallas’ many day labor pickup spots…
Brown Bag Policy
Current estimates put as many as 12 million illegal aliens inside the United States, with very little political will existing at the moment to address the situation. While one side believes a path to citizenship is the right choice, the other believes that this will only exacerbate the problem and therefore deportation should be the only option. In Texas (and many other states) the lack of action on this issue has put a noticeable strain on many public services for years, namely healthcare due to overcrowding in city hospitals where illegal aliens are forced to seek medical attention within an ER at the taxpayer’s expense. Yet the status quo remains.
If you drive down Ross Avenue in Dallas, or I-35 in Lewisville, or a multitude of other locations around the metroplex you’ll notice scattered parking lots full of day laborers (many of whom are illegal) all looking for an honest day’s wage. For me, this was where the immigration issue took turn as it became abundantly clear that any policy must be weighed against the implications of that decision. So though it seems odd that this very obvious congregation of lawbreakers would be allowed to exist, it's hard to fathom a policy decision that suddenly prevents 12 million illegal aliens from being able to provide for their families.
The few police officers I’ve known even indicate that due to the magnitude of this issue, enforcing immigration laws would essentially preclude them from performing their other duties, and as a recent study indicates that immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes, there is little cause to change this tactic.
So what is a reasonable person to do?
Step one on the road to recovery is to admit that you have a problem. Right now our country has admitted that there is A problem, but no one seems to agree on THE problem. Though I don't know the answer to this question, I do know that it will not be easy. Case in point, recently in Irving, TX the mayor came under fire due to a new policy that checks into the immigration status of anyone arrested within city limits. I was shocked not by the public reaction to the mayor’s policy, but the realization that this is NOT national policy.
It seems that here in the states, illegal immigration is more a part of our every day lives than we are ready to admit, but with public opinion shifting in favor of immigration reform (myself included) ignoring the problem may no longer be an option for those seeking to avoid controversy.