Naive liberal logic on immigration, terror

Note: "Naive liberal logic on immigration, terror" is a column that first ran in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We were given permission to post it in it's entirety by both the author Mr. Roland McLean as well as the editor, Mr. Randy Essex.

On Jan. 22, 2015, 21-year-old Grant Ronnebeck was fatally shot by a criminal alien, Apolinar Altamirano, while working his shift at a Mesa, Arizona, convenience store. Altamirano was out on bond when he executed Grant. While driving back from Phoenix recently, I heard an interview with Grant’s still-grieving father. He could not understand how our government had allowed a criminal with multiple arrests to stay in our country and be out on bond.

Our government failed Grant and his family. Our government failed the victims of the terror attack in San Bernardino. Tashfeen Malik should never have been granted a visa to enter the U.S. Our government failed Kate Steinle and her family. Her attacker should have been in jail until deportation. The victims in the Boston Marathon bombings were failed by our government, which did not identify the Tsarnaev brothers as potential terrorists when warned by the Russians.

Political correctness and liberal naïveté regarding both international immigration and terrorism were contributing factors to these failures, if not the direct cause. Certainly not all terrorist attacks can be prevented, but a realistic approach would improve security forces’ ability to stop attacks.

While the possibility of a terrorist attack seems minimal in our valley, criminal alien attacks are a distinct possibility. Unfortunately, homicides by criminal aliens are not rare. According to the 2011 Government Accounting Office report to Congress, 25,064 criminal aliens were incarcerated for homicides in the United States.

David Frum in a July 2015 article in the Atlantic Monthly, notes that immigrants committed some 2.89 million crimes between 2004 and 2009. Included in that statistic were an estimated 42,000 robberies, 70,000 sex crimes, 81,000 auto thefts, 95,000 weapons offenses and 213,000 assaults. He also points out that immigrants here illegally are concentrated in the border-states where crime rates have actually risen.

At Aspen Glen I recently attended a Great Decisions discussion on immigration moderated by an adjunct instructor at CMC. A nice man, some of whose relatives had emigrated from Lebanon, he tried to justify open immigration and the acceptance of refugees using flawed statistics. He naively made the assertion that immigration makes society safer due to the reduced incarceration rate of immigrants compared with the population at large. He also stipulated that immigration, since it produced an increase in GDP, did not suppress wages.

He ignored the facts that there is no straight-line correlation between incarceration and crime, that immigrants are reluctant to report crime, that even if the crime rate were lower the total amount of crimes would increase, and that the crime rates have actually gone up in border states. When questioned on the logic of his premise, he simply stated that we would agree to disagree.

While not surprised, I was disappointed when the instructor seemed to naively accept intuitively flawed data rather than engaging in critical thinking, especially since he teaches logic.

By ignoring inconvenient statistics on immigrant crime, our political elite and professors do not offer reasoned policy solutions to the immigration problem. The naive CMC instructor exacerbates the problem by glossing over crime statistics, as do many supporters of open immigration. While it would be absurd to even consider deporting some 11 million to 12 million* undocumented workers in this country, ignoring the crime statistics could have the effect of pushing voters who are legitimately concerned regarding immigrant crime to the support of those politicians offering the simple solution of deporting all those here illegally rather than considering a reasonable solution.

We do need to enforce our laws, secure the borders and deport any aliens who have committed felonies. We also need to restrict immigration of Islamists from anywhere in the world until they can be properly vetted.

A specious argument is made that restricting immigration is un-American. Legal immigration has always been restrictive in the United States. The exception has been the lack of border security, which has led to the large increase in illegal immigration since the 1980s.

Additionally, the small economic gains obtained from immigration are far outweighed by the cost burdens placed on local and state governments that must deal with the immigrants.

Our instructor/moderator did not consider any counter arguments. He simply pushed for unquestioned acceptance of his premise that all immigration is good.

As a contrary conservative, this type of argument is truly disturbing. I favor a reasonable solution for the undocumented workers we already have in this country. We made our country into an attractive nuisance for the past 20 or 30 years by not securing our borders and by providing jobs for immigrants. Most of us benefited from lower costs for a variety of goods and services. A naive liberal argument makes it much more difficult to convince moderates of the need to reach a reasonable accommodation.

Additionally, it is wrong to put all immigrants in the same category. Muslims are very different from immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

Having worked in the Middle East, I am very concerned about letting Islamists in from the Arab countries. Many of those Arabs, and their relatives in Europe, believe in establishing Islamic theocracies. They will not easily assimilate in our culture and pose a significant danger of radical extremist attacks such as San Bernardino. It makes very good sense for our government to temporarily halt immigration from those groups to protect our citizens until such time as a good vetting system is in place. Unfortunately that halt must be based on religion since Arab Islamists in Europe do not need visas to travel to the U.S.


Roland McLean, an Aspen Glen resident, is a University of Colorado graduate, Navy veteran and retiree after more than 30 years in international construction. His column appears on the fourth Thursday of each month. 


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