CHICAGO, January 16, 2013 — An Illinois sheriff compared U.S. immigration policy to Nazi Germany recently. He made his comment while being questioned about his support for a bill to give driver’s licenses to 250,000 illegal immigrants in Illinois.
Sheriff Mark Curran agreed to debate the controversial legislation at a public meeting on his home turf in Lake County, Illinois. At least, it was supposed to be a debate but then he decided that he didn’t want to debate the issue after all.
Maybe it was because the debate was just not going well.
He was asked by an audience member: “Isn’t this bill [for driver’s licenses to illegal aliens] a slap in the face to those who believe in the rule of law?” (Video at 23:05)
“Ultimately, I believe in the rule of law,” Curran said. “But we have to be honest about that. When we talk about the rule of law, a couple of things. One, our country had the rule of law that women didn’t have the right to vote. Minorities didn’t. Rosa Parks got caught in the rule of law. We can go on. Nazi Germany was the rule of law. So, ultimately, some laws are unjust in some sense.”
After groans of disapproval, he pulled back: “I’m not talking about this one [law].”
Well, what law did you mean, Sheriff Curran?
Later, he clarified his remarks: “I think we have to be realistic about where we are going in terms of immigration. If we somehow think we are going to have this strong rule of law and put people on buses and what have you…” (24:23)
Another member of the audience chimed in: “When some laws aren’t enforced, it makes people disrespect all laws.” (25:17)
“Like I said, we could soon be looking at a law outlawing conservative organizations meeting in a public place,” Curran said.
Then a man called the sheriff out for the Nazi comparison. “I object personally to the hyperbole of bringing in Nazi Germany. We are not Nazis here.” (35.10)
“Nobody said that we were.”
“You talked about the rule of law in Nazi Germany.”
“Quite frankly, are you satisfied with the direction your freedoms are going?” Curran responded.
Curran is not the first elected official to make offensive comparisons of American law and policy to Nazi Germany.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) once compared U.S. troops to Hitler’s concentration camps, saying that the way American troops treated have treated the Gitmo detainees reminded him of the Nazis.
Durbin told the Senate in 2005:
“If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.”
Durbin was forced to apologize for his remarks.
After the Nazi comparison, Curran tried to shift the debate away from driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. He said he wasn’t prepared to talk about “this” issue.
But Curran was the only member of Illinois law enforcement to testify in favor of SB 957, which passed the state legislature last week and is now on its way to Gov. Pat Quinn, who plans to sign the bill into law.
This is also not the first time Curran has made controversial statements on illegal immigration. In an interview with PBS’ “Frontline” last year, Sheriff Curran, who has run as both a Democrat and a Republican, said that America has “lured” illegal aliens here with false promises.
But how, exactly, does evading border security constitute a lure?
“Ultimately, we could be headed in a very dangerous direction. Where your conscience is going to mandate that you violate the law. And as sheriff, I enforce all the laws. And as a law enforcement official, I enforce all the laws. If I got to that point where I couldn’t enforce the laws, I would walk away.” (31:52).
Later, Curran claimed he didn’t know the event was a debate. (40:00) He had previously agreed to the debate through email.
The sheriff may have been uncomfortable talking in detail about SB 957 because the bill was fast-tracked in the state legislature and passed under questionable circumstances.
The pro-amnesty Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) had been unsuccessful in previous attempts to pass driver’s license legislation in Illinois. This time, ICIRR created a new organization called the Highway Safety Coalition to give Illinois lawmakers political cover.
According to Greg Sullivan, Executive Director of the Illinois Sheriffs Association, all but three Illinois sheriffs – Curran being one of the three – opposed SB 957. The Illinois Association of Police Chiefs also strongly opposed the bill, citing homeland security concerns. Many states have repealed similar driver’s license legislation due to widespread fraud. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says her state, which allows the licenses, has become a magnet for such fraud.
The bill gives the Illinois Secretary of State’s office rule-making discretion to determine the appearance of the licenses, which lawmakers say will be distinguished by a purple mark. But Illinois has had trouble with bribes-for-licenses for decades. In fact, employees of the Secretary of State’s office are currently being investigated by the FBI in connection with a Chinatown driver’s license fraud ring.
Law enforcement says critical fingerprint biometrics and tax-identification requirements were stripped from the final version of SB 957. Proof of insurance is not a prerequisite to receive a license upfront. Consular documents will be taken as proof of identification and a valid passport is not required. Ironically, in 2006, the ICIRR released a statement saying these “foreign documents” were susceptible to fraud and contributed to the downfall of a similar program in Tennessee. That was when the ICIRR called themselves “The Common Good.”
With law enforcement voicing its opposition, SB 957 was stalled in the house transportation committee until House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-IL) and Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-IL) rigged the committee, swapping out opposing members in order to ensure the bill would make it to the floor for a vote last Monday. The bill passed 64-46.
Only in Illinois.
It is politically correct these days to talk about the plight of “undocumented workers.” But little is said about the welfare of struggling U.S. citizens and taxpayers.
According to findings released last summer by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, there were 276,412 reported criminal charges against illegal and criminal immigrants over a three-year period as identified by Secure Communities.
Some studies estimate illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers as much as $113 billion a year annually. Due to a tax loophole, illegal immigrants received $4.2 billion in federal tax credits last year alone, many fraudulently claiming sons, daughters, nieces, and nephews living abroad.
Lawmakers in other states have granted children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition breaks while U.S. citizens from out-of-state pay double.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has said that if illegal immigrants are granted amnesty, one study estimates it could cost U.S. taxpayers up to $2.5 trillion in retirement expenditures, including Social Security and Medicare.
Politicians ignored all the concerns of Illinois law enforcement to fast-track SB957 for political gain.
Political pandering does not create good public policy. But Illinois will need to learn that lesson again the hard way. Hopefully, so will Sheriff Curran.
William J. Kelly is an Emmy award-winning TV producer and conservative columnist. He is also a contributor to the American Spectator and Breitbart.com. He is a native from
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