Who Should Pay For Death In The Desert?

If you like reparations for slavery, you'll love the lawsuit launched by the families of 11 dead illegal aliens against the federal government—otherwise known as the American taxpayer—last week. The aliens are deceased because they died of thirst while trying to sneak into the United States through a federally protected wildlife preserve in Arizona. The families are suing because they claim the government's at fault because it didn't put out water for them.

If a burglar breaks into your house, trips over a loose cord, and breaks his neck while falling down the stairs, can his family sue you? That's the logic of what the aliens' families are doing, but of course the answer, due to the wacky and wonderful world of American jurisprudence, is perhaps not as obvious as it should be.

In other words, the aliens may actually be able to get away with it.

For the last several years, the U.S. Border Patrol, under increasing pressure to control the traffic in illegal immigration across the nation's southern border, has cracked down on trans-border regions where most illegals cross. The crackdown has pushed immigrants into other areas that are not as safe or as populated as the preferred ones. One reason they're not as safe is that they lack water, and this is one justification for the lawsuit.

Another justification is that the Interior Department and the Fish and Wildlife Service, the agencies actually being sued, "failed" to put out enough water in the preserve to slake the thirsts of the illegal aliens. "What these agencies knew—or should have known—is that by doing this [shutting down other border areas], and with a history of deaths in the desert, these people would cross in these dangerous areas," one of the aliens' lawyers preaches. "It would have cost the government nothing to put water stations in, as it had done in other locations."

And indeed "humanitarian" groups had requested the government to establish water stations for the immigrants.

The government puts water in other locations so that wildlife will have enough water, not for the convenience of aliens blatantly violating the law. But be that as it may, the response of government officials so far has been somewhat disappointing.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says it did receive requests to put out more water stations but ignored them because "of those places they requested to place water stations, none of them would have helped the poor people who perished there," according to an agency spokesman. He also blamed the immigrant smugglers who guided the aliens into the deserted area.

That's all swell. The aliens who died were indeed poor people—not just because they died but because they were in fact being exploited by both the hoodlums they paid to guide them as well as by the phoney humanitarians and open borders nuts who lure them into this country in the first place.

But the larger point is that at no time has the agency or its spokesmen asserted that the ultimate blame for the deaths of the poor people trying to enter illegally must fall on them.

They knew what they were doing was illegal and dangerous—and they did it anyway.

What is behind the suit, of course, is the concept, dear to the hearts of the open borders crowd, that the United States has no right to have any borders anyway and certainly no right or authority to protect its borders against immigrants or enforce laws against crossing the borders. "There shall be open borders," the Wall Street Journal repeatedly proclaims in its favorite proposed constitutional amendment.  It's an amendment that many in the open borders brigades seem to think has already been ratified.

Not only do they concoct every conceivable effort to thwart the Border Patrol in performing its mission but also they encourage towns and cities on the border to declare themselves exempt from federal laws against illegal immigration (e.g., El Cenizo, Texas, a few years ago and others since) and dream up preposterous law suits to impede enforcement.

The open borders brigade, in other words, is not just a lobby, mobilizing voters and office holders for and against the laws they like or oppose. It's also a force for what can only be called subversion—the deliberate undermining of established federal laws and policies on immigration and border security.

The spokesmen for the agencies being sued by these forces of subversion need to point that out—not just pretend they really didn't know where to put the water supplies.

And they need also to insist on the unpleasant truth about the deaths in the desert: the aliens who chose to break our laws brought their own grim fates upon themselves.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

May 16, 2002