At the funeral of Iofemi Hightower, her classmate Mecca Ali wore a T-shirt with the slogan: "Tell Me Why They Had To Die." "They" are Miss Hightower, Dashon Harvey and Terrance Aeriel, three young citizens of Newark, New Jersey, lined up against a schoolyard wall, forced to kneel, and then shot in the head.
Miss Ali poses an interesting question. No one can say why they "had" to die, but it ought to be possible to advance theories as to what factors make violent death in Newark a more likely proposition than it should be. That's usually what happens when lurid cases make national headlines: When Matthew Shepard was beaten and hung on a fence in Wyoming, Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times that it was merely the latest stage in a "war" against homosexuals loosed by the forces of intolerance; Mr. Shepard's murder was dramatized in plays and movies and innumerable songs by Melissa Etheridge, Elton John, Peter, Paul and Mary, etc. The fact that this vile crucifixion was a grisly one-off and that American gays have never been less at risk from getting bashed did not deter pundits and politicians and lobby groups galore from arguing that this freak case demonstrated the need for special legislation.
By contrast, there's been a succession of prominent stories with one common feature that the very same pundits, politicians and lobby groups have a curious reluctance to go anywhere near. In a New York Times report headlined "Sorrow And Anger As Newark Buries Slain Youth," the limpidly tasteful Times prose prioritized "sorrow" over "anger," and offered only the following reference to the perpetrators: "The authorities have said robbery appeared to be the motive. Three suspects — two 15-year-olds and a 28-year-old construction worker from Peru — have been arrested." So this Peruvian guy was here on a Green Card? Or did he apply for a temporary construction-work visa from the U.S. Embassy in Lima?
Not exactly. Jose Carranza is an "undocumented" immigrant. His criminal career did not begin with the triple murder he's alleged to have committed, nor with the barroom assault from earlier this year, nor with the 31 counts of aggravated sexual assault relating to the rape of a five-year old child, for which Mr. Carranza had been released on bail. (His $50,000 bail on the assault charge, and $150,000 bail on the child-rape charges have now been revoked — or at least until New Jersey authorities decide to release him for the mass-murder charges on $250,000 bail.)
No, Mr. Carranza's criminal career in the United States began when he decided to live in this country unlawfully.
Jose Carranza isn't exactly a member of an exclusive club. Violent crime committed by fine upstanding members of the Undocumented-American community is now a routine feature of American life. But who cares? In 2002, as the "Washington Sniper" piled up his body count, "experts" lined up to tell the media that he was most likely an "angry white male," a "macho hunter" or an "icy loner." When the icy loner turned out to be a black Muslim called Muhammad plus an illegal immigrant from Jamaica, the only angry white males around were the lads in America's newsrooms who were noticeably reluctant to abandon their thesis: Early editions of The New York Times speculated that Muhammad and Malvo were being sought for "possible ties to ‘skinhead militia' groups," which seemed a somewhat improbable alliance given the size of Mr. Muhammad's hair in the only available mugshot. As for his illegal sidekick, John Lee Malvo was detained and released by the INS in breach of their own procedures. America has a high murder rate: Murdering people is definitely one of the jobs Americans can do. But that's what ties young Malvo to Jose Carranza: He's just another killer let loose in this country to kill Americans by the bureaucracy's boundless sensitivity toward the "undocumented."
Will the Newark murders change anything? Will there be an Ioefemi Hightower Act of Congress like the Matthew Shepard Act passed by the House of Representatives? No. Three thousand people died on September 11th 2001 in an act of murder facilitated by the illegal immigration support structures in this country, and, if that didn't rouse Americans to action, another trio of victims seems unlikely to tip the scales. As Michelle Malkin documented in her book Invasion, four of the killers boarded the plane with photo ID obtained through the "undocumented worker" network at the 7-Eleven in Falls Church, Virginia. That's to say, officialdom's tolerance of the illegal immigration shadow-state enabled 9/11.
And what did we do? Not only did we not shut it down we enshrined the shadow-state's charade as part of the new tough post-slaughter security procedures. Go take a flight from Newark Airport. The TSA guy will ask for your driver's license, glance at the name and picture, and hand it back to you.
Feel safer? The terrorists could pass that test, and on Tuesday morning they did: 19 foreign "visitors" had, between them, 63 valid U.S. driver's licenses. Did government agencies then make it harder to obtain lawful photo ID? No. Since 9/11, the likes of Maryland and New Mexico have joined those states that as a matter of public policy issue legal driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. So every time you stand in line shuffling along while the TSA guy examines driver's license after driver's license you have the privilege of knowing you're participating in a grand national charade.
Newark is the logical end point of these policies. It is a failed city: 60% of its children are being raised in households without fathers. In that vacuum pour all kinds of alternative authority structures: Mr. Carranza is alleged to have committed his crime with various teenage members of MS-13, a gang with origins in El Salvador's civil war of the 1980s that now operates in some 30 U.S. states. In its toughest redoubts, immigrants don't assimilate with America, America assimilates to the immigrants, and a Fairfax, Virginia teenager finds himself getting hacked at by machete wielders. One could, I suppose, regard this as one of those unforeseen incremental consequences that happens in the darkest shadows of society. But that doesn't extend to Newark's official status as an illegal-immigrant "sanctuary city." Like Los Angeles, New York and untold others, Newark has formally erased the distinction between U.S. citizens and the armies of the undocumented. This is the active collusion by multiple cities and states in the subversion of U.S. sovereignty. In Newark, New Jersey, it means an illegal-immigrant child rapist is free to murder on a Saturday night. In Somerville, Massachusetts, it means two deaf girls are raped by MS-13 members. And in Falls Church, Virginia, it means Saudi Wahhabists figuring out that, if the "sanctuary nation" (in Michelle Malkin's phrases) offers such rich pickings to imported killers and imported gangs, why not to jihadists?
"Tell Me Why They Had To Die?" Hard to answer. But tell me why, no matter how many Jose Carranzas it spawns, the nationwide undocumented-immigration protection program erected by this country's political class remains untouchable and ever expanding.
© 2007 Mark Steyn