Rudy Giuliani’s reputation has suffered recently, but 30 years ago, he was “America’s mayor,” the New York crusader who beat back crime by operationalizing James Wilson and George Kelling’s “broken windows theory.” The idea is that taking minor crime seriously sends a message of intolerance for lawbreaking more generally. People shape up.
Under Giuliani, police targeted and prosecutors punished panhandling, subway turnstile-jumping, and other petty crime. By 1996, theft was down around 40%. Murders plummeted from 2,605 in 1990 to only 649 in 2001.
When it comes to immigration policy, President Joe Biden seems to be trying out an open windows theory. Imagine if you left your windows open all day and night in New York or Washington, D.C. It’s likely you would lose some stuff, at best.
On the southern border, Biden has sent the message that America’s windows are wide open, and people from Vietnam to Venezuela heard that loud and clear.
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People can argue whether the “broken windows” approach was responsible for the sharp drop in crime, but New Yorkers knew they felt safer for a while. Now, however, rogue prosecutors such as New York’s Alvin Bragg are releasing repeat felons with criminal records so atrocious that it’s not a matter of whether they will re-offend but when. One New York thief has been arrested 101 times and convicted 15 times. Another earned his 41st arrest for assaulting a subway worker. Some people are just not safe to let out.
As New York releases offenders with dozens of prior convictions, crimes are predictably rising. As Wilfred Reilley wrote in Hate Crime Hoax; “Where bad behavior is rewarded, more of it will occur.”
That’s what’s happening on the border, where bad behavior gets you a ticket. A recently surfaced Department of Homeland Security memo claimed that Venezuelans were coming to the U.S. border under a “misunderstood perception of temporary protected status.” This program defers immigration enforcement against people from countries experiencing various types of emergencies.
But why should Venezuelans care if they are too late for the March 9, 2021, deadline for applying for temporary protected status? They are still going to be let into the U.S., free to move around, find work, legal or not, educate their children, and rent a place to live. That’s why at least 150,000 known Venezuelans have crossed illegally in the past year, well after the temporary protected status window closed.
The administration’s occasional, halfhearted "don't come" utterances are drowned out by the thrum of the Mayorkas Migration Machine, which has allowed well over a million illegal immigrants to cross the border and enter immigration limbo.
Under Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s direction, agents gather illegal crossers and give them an immigrant number. The department then gives them “humanitarian” or “significant public benefit” parole and tells them to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement later. The illegal immigrants then either claim asylum or enter the black hole of a 10-million-case backlog. An unknown number of them simply disappear off the radar and get on with their lives.
The process is a blatant abuse of the limited parole authority granted by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
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Lately, the Biden administration has created new immigration programs with catchy names such as “Uniting for Ukraine” and “Volunteering for Venezuela.” The latter may get a few Venezuelans a quicker work permit—but only at the price of a longer wait outside the country. Those who aren’t an easy fit for these 24,000 “Volunteering for Venezuela” visas surely won’t give up because they don’t qualify. In fact, the Guatemalan government just reported that over 2,000 of them are gathering there for the trek through Mexico to our border.
Biden has tested his open windows theory for well over a year. It has proved highly effective at attracting millions of people to cross our borders illegally. Most are economic migrants fleeing bad governments, high crime, and dysfunctional economies. Some thousands have criminal records. All are moving into an America that is increasingly unable to absorb them at current rates, with overwhelmed schools, medical care, and emergency public housing in major cities all over the country.
This disastrous social experiment must end. Biden needs to get serious about border enforcement, require asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases work their way through the system, and sign asylum cooperative agreements with other countries to prevent the dangerous lure of his open border.
Winter is approaching. It’s time to close the windows.
This piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner