The Law That Dare Not Be Enforced

"I DON'T KNOW why they treated our friends like that. We didn't do any crime," Eduardo Roman Garcia, told the Orange County Register. Garcia was one of at least 19 immigrants who fled authorities last week after an 80-mile car chase that ended with the televised beating of Alicia Sotero Vazquez and Enrique Funes Flores. Two Riverside deputies, Tracy Watson and Kurtis Franklin, were suspended with pay after what appeared to be an unjustified beating.

Garcia is wrong: He and his friends are suspected of crimes. Not that any of them have been charged, but they apparently engaged in illegal entry into the United States. Their driver, whether his passengers were willing or not, evaded arrest. These crimes in no way justify the beating of Vazquez and Flores. Judging from what I saw on videotape, those two deputies should be thrown off the force. But do not say no other crimes occured.

If you watched "Homicide"last week, you saw two cops encounter a family of illegal aliens. One cop -- the mean-spirited simpleton who couldn't understand why people choose to live so poorly -- wanted to notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The good cop said no; the family wasn't doing anything wrong. Like breaking the law isn't wrong? In the end, the cops let the family drive off into the night -- a happy ending, especially since it concerned only one family.

Ah, Hollywood. Actor Marlon Brando invited Vazquez and Flores to live with him and offered to donate $25,000 to their childrens' education. Why stop there? Brando could make a grand point by letting all illegals move in and paying for their kids' schooling too.

Figure most illegal immigrants are good people desperately trying to better their lives. Like Garcia, they don't see anything wrong with trying to get ahead, not when they're the underdogs.

But there is something wrong. When they hire "coyotes" they are paying ruthless smugglers who don't mind committing a menu of crimes in order to ply their trade. Some accounts of the car chase report that illegals in the back of the truck threw beer cans and pieces of the truck's metal camper shell at the deputies' car. Supervisor Border Patrol agent Ron Henley said Monday it is "not unusual" for smugglers to instruct their human cargo to throw things at pursuing vehicles.

Pickup passengers deny that they threw anything; they say that metal strewn on the road was debris caused by the shell's breaking up due to the high speed. That's weird science. Either way, lives were endangered. When the pickup side-swiped another car, someone could have been killed. It's a dangerous business and innocent citizens, as well as the immigrants riding helplessly in the back, could have died.

The Mexican government, wouldn't you know, is indignant about the beatings and an incident Saturday in which seven illegal immigrants were killed after the pickup in which they were being transported overturned as its driver tried to elude Border Patrol agents, who had spotted the pickup but -- please note -- were not following at a high speed. Do not ask: If the Mexican system is so great, why do so many Mexicans want out?

State Senator Tom Hayden blamed Governor Wilson. "I hope that Governor Wilson is asking himself if he had anything to do with creating the climate that led to the swinging of those batons," Hayden said. Nonsense. Wilson doesn't defend excessive force.

By the same "climate" logic, figure Hayden is stoking a climate that encourages coyotes to break any law, secure in the knowledge that no matter who they hurt, they will have their defenders. And their illegal customers will have their lawyers. And their million-dollar lawsuits.