Last June, Democrats throughout Brooklyn and the outer boroughs condemned personnel at Fort Hamilton Army Base for contacting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when officials discovered a man delivering pizza to the base was an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador with a warrant for his deportation. The pols held press conferences and rallies in support of Pablo Villavicencio-Calderon, whom most accounts at the time described as a devoted family man with no other criminal history.
Earlier this month, a purported MS-13 gang member allegedly pumped at least five bullets into the face of a 20-year old rival gang member on a Queens subway platform, in broad daylight. Days later, officials with the federal immigration agency said the suspect is in the country illegally. President Trump in his State of the Union address cited the hell straphangers witnessed that day, saying, “An MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York City … we are removing these gang members by the thousands. But until we secure our border, they’re going to keep streaming right back in.”
But, for the most part, many of the pols who grandstanded in support of Villavicencio-Calderon have said nothing in the wake of the Queens shooting. And this columnist has one reason to explain that silence: It is more politically expedient for those officials to ignore a tangible example of the dangers that illegal immigration poses on this city, and country, than to acknowledge the situation — and, in turn, bolster the case for Trump’s beloved wall at the U.S.–Mexico border.
The Queens shooting occurred in the district of freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez — who ousted her powerful predecessor Rep. Joe Crowley to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at 29-years-old, and the new face of her party. Not surprisingly, however, Ocasio-Cortez has paid little attention to the incident. In fact, one week after authorities slapped the suspected shooter with murder, gang-assault, and weapons-possession charges, Ocasio-Cortez called on Congress to defund the federal immigration agency, saying that it “[does] not deserve a dime for their radical agenda.”
But it is not radical to send away purported gang members here illegally — especially if they open fire on subway platforms. It is common sense. Unfortunately, political convenience prevents other local Dems from standing up to the Congresswoman, or admitting Trump may be right about his push to further secure our border.
During my time as former Rep. Vito Fossella’s Brooklyn Director, the number-one casework issue in our Bay Ridge office was immigration. I witnessed thousands of people trying to enter the country, or help their family members get here, the legal way. The context behind Villavicencio-Calderon’s arrest helped me better understand the left’s outrage over his subsequent deportation threat, but there is no reasoning that can explain Democrats’ relative silence about an alleged gang member and murderer — especially one here illegally, according to the Feds.
And I’m not alone — other New Yorkers are fighting back against calls to eradicate the federal immigration agency. On Feb. 10, members of a new group called Latinos for ICE — who include attorney Manny Alicandro, a pro-Trump Republican running in the special election for Public Advocate — debuted their organization at a press conference at the same subway station where the shooting occurred.
Mayor DeBlasio’s sanctuary-city policies can also be blamed for what happened on that subway platform, because they forbade local officials from notifying the Feds about the immigration status of the shooter — whom cops previously busted 12 times, including an arrest last December, and who was recently indicted on conspiracy to commit burglary and drug-possession charges along with a dozen other purported MS-13 members.
The aftermath of the Queens shooting is just the latest example of how our polarized political system, and many Democrats’ knee-jerk resistance to Trump, prevent common-sense solutions to issues of national, and local, safety. It wasn’t long ago that Dems openly voted to fund border barriers, and pols wouldn’t hesitate to condemn a subway killing in broad daylight.
Bob Capano is a professor of political science of more than 15 years, who has previously worked for local Democratic and Republican pols, and as the chairman of the Brooklyn Reform Party.