To enforce or not to enforce; that is the question.

Enforcing the laws we have may just be 90% of what we need to do to stop law-breaking. I have 2 examples to demonstrate that; a personal one from about 20 years ago, and an example from the government from last month.

Maybe we don’t actually have to build a wall. Maybe the wall just needs to be one of enforcement.

Let me know if you have other examples.

Mentioned links:

Rio Grande Valley is unusually quiet as Southwest border crossings drop to lowest point in at least 17 years

Three Cheers for Sanctuary Cities

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Show transcript

Let me tell you a story about business travel I used to do, to one client in particular. I was going on-site at a company in Oakland, Tennessee, east of Memphis, to do some training. A co-worker who had been there already sent me a document with things like what hotel to stay at, how to request the special client room rate, and how to get from the hotel to the client site. Near the bottom of the directions what this note, in all capital letters; “DO NOT SPEED IN OAKLAND.”

See, Oakland was a notorious speed trap. As I recall (this was maybe 20 years ago), the US highway coming into town had a speed limit of 55 miles per hour, but it dropped to 35 as soon as you hit the town limits. I was told by my co-worker that they enforce the speed limit strictly, with police cars positioned at various entry points just inside the town line waiting for anyone doing 36.

And so what you saw is that people who were taking the speed limit of 55 as a mere suggestion, doing 65 or 70, all of a sudden slowing way down to 35 just as they approached Oakland. Clearly, the town’s reputation was well known to those in the area. Without a cop in sight, everyone slowed down to 35 miles per hour.

Keep that in mind as I talk about this news story.

Slowly, the Border Patrol truck cut through the darkness, its headlights illuminating a deserted, sandy road framed by long grass and yellow mesquite trees.

“This area used to be really hot,” said Marlene Castro, a supervisory Border Patrol agent, as she scanned the path ahead for immigrants who had crossed the Rio Grande illegally into the United States. “You couldn’t move. Every time you turned a corner, you’d run into group after group.”

Across the Southwest border, the number of immigrants caught crossing illegally into the United States has dropped dramatically. Fewer than 12,200 people were apprehended in March, a 64% decrease from the same time last year, and the lowest monthly number in at least 17 years.

So, what’s the common thread here? It’s enforcement. Well, actually, it’s the reputation of enforcement. The Oakland PD doesn’t have to catch every speeder; they just have to make it clear that you can be ticketed for doing 1 mile an hour over the limit, and to be taken seriously they need to do it whenever they can. You may not agree with the policy, but word gets around that it will be enforced, and the people respond. They take the speed laws seriously.

In the same way, President Trump has made illegal immigration such a hallmark of his campaign, including the plan to build the wall on the southern border, that people take him seriously. Oh, Democrats might not take him seriously, but you know who do? Potential illegal immigrants. So much so that they’re staying away in droves. We haven’t seen numbers this low since at least the Clinton administration. Trump’s been in office 3 months. All he’s done on immigration is get his 2 versions of a refugee pause shot down by the courts, and yet illegal immigration has been cut dramatically. No wall. No new laws. Merely his reputation for wanting to enforce the existing laws has been enough.

We don’t need new laws. We have a wall, and its name is Donald Trump.

This idea has ramifications that I’d like to explore.

For starters, if all we have to do is enforce existing laws to dramatically reduce illegal immigration, then let those sanctuary cities do what they want. They’ll have fewer people wanting sanctuary, and if they want more people whose first act in this country was breaking a law, more power to them. In fact, I have a link in the show notes to an article by Erick Erickson where he cheers on sanctuary cities; not because he agrees with the policy, but because Democrats, who usually want a stronger central government, are making the case for federalism and the rights of the states to do what they want. They’re making the conservative case for a more decentralized government. It’s an interesting read, and I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

But also, this idea of enforcing existing laws is a lesson that can be learned in other areas.  There have been many shootings where laws were broken in order for the shooter to get a gun. The answer from the Democrats is, of course, more laws. “Sure he broke 17 laws in this case, but if we have one more, that will stop them!” What we need are better methods to enforce what laws we already have.

How about things like the banking industry? Instead of institutions that are “too big to fail” that get sweetheart deals when they make bad choices, how about holding them to the same standards smaller institutions are held to? I guarantee you, if 1 or 2 big banks or investment firms go out of business, the rest will realize that the government is serious about not bailing them out when they screw up, and they’ll start scrutinizing their decisions a lot more.

This may sound like a radical idea, but perhaps the best thing we could do for the country is enforce our laws. Sounds crazy, but it just might work.

Again, I’m not talking about whether you agree with Trump’s policies or not, but whether you see that enforcing the laws can actually be effective. Clearly it is, and it makes it all the more important to get the laws right. As I mentioned in the last episode, the Left seems to think that judges should rewrite the laws when those laws don’t fit their ideas…this week. So A, we need judges who will enforce the laws as written, and B, we need legislators who will do their jobs right. Only then can we be consistent when enforcing those laws. But when we do, seems to me it actually works.

Filed under: GovernmentImmigrationLaw EnforcementState's Rights