Policy by Anecdote, Back at You

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on February 13, 2011

In the "educated people should really know better" department: If you’re like me, you tire of the silly or reckless, and potentially dangerous, practice of setting policy by anecdote.

At the Nyack College immigration panel I participated in last fall, one of the open-borders speakers trotted out Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, as an example of immigrant promise. He strongly insinuated that, therefore, we should grant visas to foreigners, illegal aliens, and just about anybody who wants to come here because Americans aren’t up to the task of innovation, hard work, and job creation and implying that every would-be immigrant is the next Sergey Brin just waiting their chance at the American dream. The "immigration policy by unrepresentative anecdote" tactic is the latest fad on the pro-amnesty, mass immigration side.

Well, let’s engage in their little parlor game for a minute. Anecdotes do help put a human face on larger concepts less emotionally engaging because they’re presented as facts and figures. Just one day’s crime headlines from the Washington Post Saturday paint a picture the open-borders crowd won’t like.

The Post reported the convicted murderer of Chandra Levy, MS-13 foreign gang member Ingmar Guandique, an illegal alien from El Salvador who already had a rap sheet, was finally sentenced. He got 60 years in an American prison, complete with free meals, health care, and dentistry at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. Of course, Guandique’s having previously attacked other women in Rock Creek Park doesn’t mean every Salvadoran illegal in America will prey on American women in their own country. But it sure isn’t good PR for the mass immigration crowd.

Another example of an illegal alien supposedly cowering "in the shadows" came to light in the same newspaper. This illegal criminal, Jose Oswaldo Reyes Alfaro, 37, allegedly shot his 56-year-old girlfriend and two men dead: "The man suspected of killing three people and wounding three others in Manassas Thursday evening is a native of El Salvador who was in the country illegally and ordered deported in 2002, police said Friday." The story in the print edition included much more detail and color — most of it unflattering (e.g., he had a long-term romantic relationship with the murder victim while having abandoned a wife and kids back in El Salvador).

In any event, Reyes Alfaro makes a pretty strong case all by himself for the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs – anecdotally speaking:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Cori Bassett said Friday that Reyes entered the country illegally in February 2001. At some point after that, he was encountered by either immigration authorities or local law enforcement, determined to be in the country illegally, and ordered to appear before an immigration judge.

As is typical when an illegal immigrant is encountered but not under arrest for a crime, they are not held in jail and are given a hearing with the opportunity to prove that they have legal status -- either a work permit, a student visa, a permanent resident "green card," or other immigration exemption.

Reyes did not appear at his immigration hearing in August 2002, Bassett said, and a judge ordered him to be deported.

Of course, this Salvadoran illegal may or may not be representative of all Salvadoran illegal aliens. But if you can believe even half of what you read in the papers (a stretch of credulity, I know), maybe the spin about illegals "hidden in the shadows" meek and mild and only here to do grunt work doesn’t represent a complete picture of our immigration problem.

In D.C. suburb Montgomery County, Maryland, Post readers learn that Bernardo P. Flores-Olvera told police that he had brutally murdered his wife: "Flores-Olvera was ordered held without bond by Montgomery District Court Judge Barry A. Hamilton. Federal authorities have lodged a detainer on him, an indication that he could be in the country illegally and be deported if and when he completes a prison sentence." Of course, not all immigrants or illegal aliens are evil murderers. But if open-borders apologists imply all immigrants would create the next Google, what’s the difference by implying all immigrants would commit heinous crimes?

I, for one, would be satisfied living with the benefit of the next American Steve Jobs and not admit the next imported innovator. I certainly would prefer restoring Chandra Levy’s parents the company of their murdered daughter by having closed our nation’s doors to her foreign-born killer and however many others it takes to gain control of our borders and visa system.