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The Libertarian

Vin Suprynowicz

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Thousands of demonstrators tied up traffic on The Las Vegas Strip and other local streets Monday, drawing the attention of more than 200 Las Vegas Metro policemen who worked to divert traffic, in large measure to keep the demonstrators safe.

That is indeed the main job of local peace officers. They did a good job.

Organizers of the marches characterized them as being staged by immigrants who favor immigration reform. Those are politically correct euphemisms, at best. Most of the demonstrators were foreign nationals who are in this country in violation of America’s immigration laws -- that is to say, illegal aliens -- calling for amnesty, for a retroactive waiver of the requirements for legal immigrant status which these marchers have scorned and violated. (You know -- requirements like absence of infectious disease; evidence of job skills and a paying job awaiting them; ability to speak and read English; an expression of willingness to obey the laws ... unreasonable stuff like that.)

None of the demonstrators have called for immigration to be made quicker or easier or cheaper for people waiting in India or China. So what are their proposed “reforms,” precisely?

If the marchers have already willfully violated America’s immigration laws, why should anyone believe they would docilely return to their home countries, file their applications, and wait in line to obey some new set of U.S. immigration laws, once they succeed in getting them “reformed”?

Monday, true to form, the lawbreaking continued. Local ordinances require organizers of any event that will block a roadway to obtain a free permit, hire workers to barricade streets, and pay for police officers to route traffic. For an event like Monday morning’s rally in a city park, current law requires organizers to apply for a permit and to purchase an insurance policy against park damage.

Monday’s organizers neither applied for nor acquired any permits. So far as is known, they have made no attempt to pay police. Carlos Mejia, one of the organizers of the morning rally and march, said there was a “mix-up” about getting permits. Organizers thought they had “verbal” permission for the march, he said, probably meaning “oral.”

Eva Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the United Coalition for Immigrant Rights (a group which actually seeks to bestow the same rights on illegal aliens as the law grants to legal immigrants) contended organizers for the evening march down the Strip failed to seek or get a permit because they did not have enough time.

(If you’re a law-abiding U.S. citizen, try that the next time a local cop braces you for driving or carrying a concealed weapon without a “permit.” Say “That rigmarole takes so long; I just didn’t have time.” I’m sure they’ll send you on your way with a smile.)

What would have been so terrible about a delay? Why, then the parade wouldn’t have occurred on May Day, the traditional international day for demonstrations of Communist strength and solidarity, of course.

Clark County Sheriff Bill Young says police have no intention of citing anyone for these admitted violations of law. “Who would you have us cite?” the sheriff asks. “If we had tried to stop (the marchers), it would have led to a fight, arrests. Attempting to stop it would have been like spitting into the wind.”

To state the obvious, Sheriff Young could cite Mr. Mejia and Ms. Rodriguez, for starters. If they have a valid defense, they could then offer it in court.

A good case can be made that these permit requirements constitute an infringement on the rights to free speech and assembly. In the past, local officials have held that’s not their purpose -- that they’re merely intended to give police adequate notice of pending traffic disruptions, and to make sure taxpayers are compensated for real costs incurred.

If Sheriff Young would now join with those, like me, who argue that such “permit” laws are unconstitutional, he should promptly petition the Las Vegas City Council and Clark County Commission to repeal them.

Otherwise, it will be clear the sheriff intends to continue enforcing these laws in a discriminatory manner, with certain parties allowed to break the law with impunity based on the political acceptability of their message, while other are plumb out of luck. (Or is it sheer numbers? If the majority of drivers speed, will Metro stop enforcing speed limits? Oh wait, we already do. And Metro just keeps “spitting into the wind” and collecting an extra $200 one-time road use tax from each of us unlucky enough to get singled out at random, don’t they?)

For instance, Chris Christoff, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, says he was turned down for a permit for a similar march, intended to honor veterans, a few years back. “The reason they (the county) gave was that they couldn’t close the streets off because it was a safety hazard.” Mr. Christoff says he was told he would also have to come up with $25,000 for an insurance policy, pay overtime for police officers to monitor the event, and pay workers to put up barricades.

Clark County Senior Engineering Technician Ray Martin explains such permit applications are handled on a case-by-case basis. For the record, that’s the opposite of saying “The law is applied equally to everyone, no matter what your message.”

So let me make sure I’ve got this straight: If one doesn’t like the current requirements for legal immigration to America, as established by Congress, the answer is to sneak across the border under cover of night, commit felonies by lying about one’s legal status and Social Security number in order to obtain work, and then gather together one’s colleagues in crime and march in the streets (since sheer numbers now outweigh the rule of law) to demand retroactive amnesty for one’s crimes.

If one wants to march down The Las Vegas Strip and tie up traffic, the best course of action is not to apply for permits in a timely and orderly manner -- you’ll only get turned down -- but rather to ignore all such laws, depending on Sheriff Young to refrain even from citing you after the fact, since he’s afraid that if he did that he and his nancy boys might face “a fight.”

No, no one would have wished to see national television coverage of Metro officers going after peaceful marchers with clubs and firehoses. So wise and generous is this nation that it acknowledges a right to speak and assemble, even for those who have broken its laws to get here (unlike, say, Mexico. Try blocking traffic without a permit in Mexico.) I’m glad our cops decided to revert to “peace officers.” From here on in, they won’t refer to themselves as “law enforcement officers” any more, right?

And if they couldn’t be bothered to “run the IDs” of thousands of illegal aliens on the Strip Monday night, they’ll never again ask for mine, right?

Turning back this massive invasion by illegal aliens is the job of the federal government. And surely every taxpayer understands the difficulties our highly-paid federal Immigration officers face in trying to track down illegals. Just imagine how hard it would have been to figure out where they all were going to be on Monday evening, for example.

But if county officials -- including Sheriff Young’s police -- are only going to enforce the law against people like Marine Corps veteran Chris Christoff, and not against such “politically correct” outfits as the “United Coalition for Immigrant Rights,” can’t they at least post a written list of which groups are now required to obey the law, and which are not?

Or is there some other way we’re supposed to tell?

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