KEVIN LEININGER: What John Lennon imagined, America is enduring — and the result doesn’t look like utopia

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Kevin Leininger

I love the Beatles, but one of the most insipid songs of all time has to be the 1971 John Lennon anthem that gave his fawning disciples such wisdom as: “Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for . . .”

Now, nearly 50 years later, that Star Trek vision of a one-world utopia has taken root among those who insist it is somehow un-American for the United States to fulfill what not that long ago was considered the first obligation of any nation: the protection of its borders.

It may very well be that President Trump was simply toying with his supporters when he went on TV Tuesday night to defend his requested $5.7 billion for a border wall — a demand that, with congressional Democrats’ refusal to consider it, has resulted in a partial shutdown of the federal government. There’s already a wall along parts of the Southern border, and people are constantly climbing over it or tunneling under it. And if Trump were really as serious about fulfilling the central promise of his 2016 as he insists he is, why didn’t he fight harder for the wall (and that promised Mexican funding!) during the two years his Republican Party controlled Congress?

But at least when Trump said the United States “proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation . . . (but is) hurt by uncontrolled, illegal migration,” he was claiming to represent American interests. Whose interests, exactly, are Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other wall opponents promoting?

For all their professed support for “border security,” Democrats, like Republicans, have failed to deliver. But their sins of omission have been eclipsed by a wilful refusal to protect the very people they have been elected, and sworn, to serve.

In California, where Newman Police officer Ronil Singh was killed last month by an illegal immigrant with criminal record during a traffic stop, new Gov. Gavin Newsome has just vowed to keep the state a “sanctuary to all who seek it . . . we believe in the power of diversity. We have defied and resisted the xenophobic, hateful policies of (the Trump) administration at every turn. We’ll do it again.” His words came just a few days after Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson insisted Singh might still be alive were it not for the California’s status as a sanctuary state.

“This is a criminal illegal alien with prior criminal activity that should have been reported to ICE,” he said. “Law enforcement was prohibited because of sanctuary laws. and that led to the encounter with Singh . . . he outcome could have been different if law enforcement wasn’t restricted.”

That contention may not be completely accurate. Although the state’s sanctuary laws prevent local police from detaining people at ICE’s request of they would otherwise be released, they do contain exemptions for people charged with or suspected of serious or violent crimes — and Singh’s alleged killer reportedly had gang affiliations and other active warrants that could have made him a target for deportation.

“(Singh’s killer) should have been in the physical custody of law enforcement,” said State Sen. Kevin de Leon, who wrote California’s sanctuary law and insisted blaming it for the tragedy is “highly irresponsible.”

Irresponsible or not, the fact remains that Singh’s wife would not be a widow and his children fatherless had his killer not been allowed to enter and remain in the country illegally, and had local police not believed, rightly or wrongly, they could do nothing about it. Neither police nor elected officials have the authority to decide which laws to enforce and which to ignore, and ignoring laws in a way that benefits people in the country illegally at the expense of citizens and others who play by the rules is not only wrong but cynical in the extreme.

“It’s important that the awful acts that one person is accused of not be used to demonize whole communities,” suggested Jon Rodney, spokesman for the California Immigrant Policy Center, as if law-breakers deserve to be lionized, not demonized. But what happened to Singh was far from unique; As Trump noted, in the last two years alone ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged with or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings.

With or without countries, there will always be plenty to kill or die for. Lack of border enforcement simply ensures more of both will happen here, and that those betrayed by craven politicians will pay for it with their taxes and, sometimes, their very lives.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at or call him at 461-8355.