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LA Times Goes Wall-to-Wall on Special Order 40

By See-Dubya  •  April 20, 2008 03:09 PM

The discussion over Jamiel’s Law and of the LAPD’s Special Order 40 isn’t dying down, and the LA Times is doing something useful and covering the controversy in detail. Their “full coverage” page is here. Also of interest is their “40-on-40” mass editorial in which they’ve asked 40 “prominent” L.A. residents (well, actually, 39 plus my friend Patterico), for 40 words on Section 40. Among them is a sharp point by advice columnist Amy Alkon:

If I want a job cleaning your company’s toilets, I’ll have to present proof of citizenship and swear under penalty of perjury I’m legal, but if I mug you, beat you, and leave you for dead, it’s no questions asked?

They’ve got a much longer interview with pseudonymous LAPD officer, NRO contributor, and Patterico-co-blogger Jack Dunphy.

The debate is an interesting one because it breaks up some traditional coalitions. Among the voices on the right were two smart conservative professors, James Q. Wilson and Doug Kmiec, advocating an extension of Special Order 40 on the grounds that it helps police do their jobs. Kmiec thinks exceptions should be made in the case of “known gang members”, which I expect is how the compromise will eventually be drawn.

Meanwhile, traditional Democratic constituencies are riled by this as well. Several black activists and community leaders quoted there are pushing for Jamiel’s Law.

You know, border security just can’t get anywhere with conservatives alone. The Shamnesty bill and the DREAM act last year got smacked down again and again both because of conservative advocacy but also because some Democrats (I believe motivated by labor concerns). And now LA is considering a revision to a policy that protects illegal alien criminals because of pressure not only from conservatives but also from black activists. Progress is made through coalitions.

It’s a good reminder that politics is the art of building coalitions, and border-security advocates need to remain on the lookout for potential allies in unexpected places.

Which reminds me–one reason the open-borders lobby tries so hard to smear all border-security types as “anti-immigrant” and “know-nothing” is to make us radioactive and prevent the formation of these winning coalitions. We need to keep proving them wrong. It’s a fine line we’ll need to walk between expressing our justified outrage at the perversion of law and the threat to security that unchecked illegal immigration represents, but tempering our zeal with humility and charity where it’s appropriate.

That’s not a call for wishy-washiness or even compromise, but it is a warning about prudent politics and not walking into the traps the open-borders lobby tries to set. So please, think carefully about what you say and how you say it.

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