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Street Smart

Getting to the root of the problem


August 29, 2019

After 77th Division, I applied to and was accepted into Metropolitan Division (Metro). Metro was a phenomenal place to work and afforded me the opportunity to work dozens of different jobs without leaving the Division. Metro is primarily a crime suppression assignment, but is also home to SWAT, K9 and the Mounted Unit. Metro has citywide responsibility and platoons are sent to work areas as the needs arise. We spent the bulk of our time patrolling Central, South Central, and South Los Angeles. At the time, Central Los Angeles had a predominantly Hispanic immigrant population, and a large homeless population known as “Skid Row.”

Immigration and homelessness are huge topics right now, so I’d like to share my experiences. Before I start though, it’s important that the reader understand that, when discussing immigration in this instance, I’m talking about illegal immigration and not legal immigration. There’s a huge difference between the two, but people seem to lose sight of the word illegal when the discussion begins.

The illegal immigrants in Central Los Angeles were nearly always from Central America or Mexico. I typically came across two types of illegal immigrant “scenarios.” The first involved a lone male who had unlawfully crossed the border looking for work. The second was a family who had unlawfully crossed looking to improve their living conditions. Completely reasonable motives, but I immediately saw the problems.

First, there simply weren’t enough steady jobs. It doesn’t matter how willing a person is to work if there’s no job! In the case of the lone males who couldn’t find a job, this usually left them with one of three options: go back to the country they left, resort to crime, or seek some sort of public assistance. Lone males who did find work frequently teamed up with others in similar circumstances and shared living quarters to cut back on expenses. It was common to find 10-12 people living together in a two-bedroom apartment. A vehicle would be purchased and probably shared amongst the group. Most of these males still had family in whatever country they had left and would routinely send a portion of the money they made in the U.S. back home. Laudable intentions, right? Unfortunately, this practice didn’t leave enough money for little things like vehicle registration and insurance, medical care, etc. (these guys didn’t pay taxes). As just one example, envision the following scenario: an illegal immigrant driver is at fault in a car accident with injuries to all involved parties (a daily occurrence dozens of times over). The illegal immigrant driver is hurt and has to be transported to the emergency room for treatment. That treatment, whatever it entails, has to be paid for by the taxpayers. The illegal immigrant driver has no health insurance. The illegal immigrant driver didn’t have car insurance, so the cost to the other driver involved falls on them even though they weren’t at fault. The only person involved in this example with no financial liability is the illegal immigrant driver! Now envision the lone male who couldn’t find work. If he goes on some sort of public assistance, the taxpayers are on the hook for his existence. If he resorts to crime, he creates a public hazard. If he’s arrested in the commission of a crime, the taxpayers are on the hook for his incarceration. Consider that these scenarios occur dozens (if not hundreds) of times a day and it’s quite easy to see how the cost to taxpayers can become overwhelming. The cost to taxpayers increases considerably in the family situations.

I need to be clear. I believe that legal immigration is what has made the United States the greatest country in the world. Most readers would not be here if their ancestors had not recognized the potential in America and sacrificed to get here. Illegal immigration is vastly different, not sustainable financially and must be dealt with effectively. Streamlining the path to legal status and investigation of legitimate refugee status would help the situation.

The situation in Skid Row was horrible when I left Los Angeles eight years ago and has only gotten worse. The problem is costing the city millions of taxpayer dollars. I’ve read several recent articles regarding homeless conditions in Los Angeles and can state that those articles are true based on my own personal experience. Space doesn’t allow an in-depth discussion.

Thirty-plus years ago my coworkers and I predicted the very scenario Los Angeles is experiencing today with illegal immigration and homelessness. How could we have been so accurate? Simple…we saw on a daily basis that the liberal policies of the city government just did not work. They kept slapping a bandage on a sucking chest wound instead of addressing the root cause of the problems effectively. One example, the sanctuary city philosophy is causing Los Angeles (and cities like it) to go broke. Root cause that the liberal city fathers refused to address? Illegal immigration! I was recently struck by the fact that each of the Democratic candidates for president raised his/her hand when asked if illegal immigrants should receive free health care. What these people can’t seem to understand is that nothing is free. The health care might be free to the illegal immigrant, but someone is going to pay for it. Based on the real-life scenarios I described above, does anyone want to take a wild guess regarding who will foot the bill?

Blaine Blackstone is a retired Los Angeles Police Sergeant who enjoys the simpler life in Thompson Falls. He can be reached by email at [email protected]


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