While billionaire GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump was castigated by competing candidates and old-line media for broaching the issue of illegal immigration, his plain talk seems to have struck a chord with a multitude of voters. His polling numbers have skyrocketed to the top of the field. If he does nothing else in the entire campaign, he has forced other candidates to address illegal immigration as an important national issue.
Until Trump’s comments, many announced candidates and Washington officials had happily avoided addressing the negative national consequences of consciously ignoring illegal immigration, corruption in our national government, failures in foreign policy, and the rise in violent crime in some of our cities. The White House rejects any linkage between its policies and lawlessness, chaos and the murder of American citizens.
Both the Congress and the White House have failed to get to the bottom of the illegal and scandalous behavior of the IRS, the Veterans’ Administration, and even the Secret Service and FBI. Media and politicians obsess over these scandals, but nothing concrete gets done – nothing changes and no one has paid the price. Polls show that Americans “have had it.” Polls also show that Americans lack trust in their government and yearn for strong, trustworthy leadership.
It is not enough for candidates and elected officials to continue to speak with political correctness and in platitudes. Trump’s provocative comments served to shine a light on crimes committed by illegal immigrants, including the July murder of a young San Francisco woman – a murder committed by an illegal immigrant with a lengthy criminal record who should have never been returned to the streets. This tragedy occurred because the government has failed to protect the nation’s borders and, as a result, its citizens.
Following the senseless murder of Kate Steinle, U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein wants to “propose federal legislation.” Why? The feds have not enforced laws already on the books. Why pass new laws when “Sanctuary Cities” make it clear they won’t prosecute or observe the laws?
During a San Francisco Board of Supervisors hearing on the brutal murder, supervisors were asked to explain “Sanctuary City” release of the convicted illegal immigrant who murdered Steinle. Video shows each supervisor staring straight ahead and not answering the question; following the question, the supervisors animatedly addressed what was apparently a more important issue – banning alcohol from Starbucks.
Responsibility for immigration is spread out far too widely and among far too many agencies. Another lesson from the coverage following the Steinle murder is that we should not be surprised at the confusion and outright chaos resulting from such splintered responsibility and ultimate lack of accountability.
While uncomfortable, Trump’s brash accounting of illegal immigration’s impact on crime may force other candidates and elected officials to learn about and take informed positions on this important issue. A July 8 report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission finds that illegal immigrants – who make up approximately 3 percent of the population – comprised 37 percent of all federal sentences this past year. Steinle’s murderer was freely walking the streets of San Francisco the day of her death, in spite of seven felony convictions, and after previously being deported five times. Sanctuary City status invited him back across the border because he knew he was “safe” there from prosecution. Kate Steinle, an American, was not safe.
Uttering politically correct platitudes, while fashionable for the moment, does not translate into political leadership. More candidates need to say exactly what they mean and believe. In all likelihood, Donald Trump will not become president, but he may cause others to speak, unafraid of political consequences.
America is hungry for leadership that is honest and straightforward. Both political parties can fulfill this atavistic need. The absence of an inner sense of justice and failure to speak plainly are hurting America and voters must insist on more Harry Truman-style “plain talk” and reasonable solutions.
Pat Freibert is a former Kentucky state representative from Lexington. She can be reached at [email protected].