L.A. Mayor Fans Flames of Ethnic Tension

City and county officials in Los Angeles have long taken positions on immigration enforcement that could best be described as irresponsible. The city and county adamantly refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agencies, except under extraordinary circumstances, and would rather turn criminal aliens back on to the streets that turn them over to ICE to be deported.

But recent statements by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti go beyond mere passive irresponsibility and border on encouragement of violent resistance to the federal government’s efforts to enforce immigration laws. In an interview on National Public Radio, Mayor Garcetti warned that, as the result of immigration enforcement activity, the city could witness riots and civil unrest similar to what occurred 25 years ago after the acquittal of police officers involved in the Rodney King beating. Describing a hypothetical situation in which an illegal alien parent is arrested by ICE as he drops his kid off at school, the mayor stated, “If something goes wrong, I fear a tinderbox out there, you know where people will suddenly say ‘no’ and try to defend. You know, keep that person from being taken.”

There may well be a tinderbox out there, but it is a tinderbox created by irresponsible politicians like Eric Garcetti, who have for decades stoked racial and ethnic divisions. Rather than merely disagreeing with federal immigration enforcement policies, ostensibly responsible public officials have recklessly created and then reinforced the notion that immigration enforcement is an attack targeted at particular racial or ethnic groups, or a malicious government assault on family unity.

Having provided the fuel for the tinderbox of ethnic tension, Mayor Garcetti’s statements, along with those of other political leaders in California and other parts of the country amount to handing matches to the professional agitators who now fancy themselves as leaders of a noble resistance movement. In the same NPR interview, Garcetti compared those who are trying to impede immigration enforcement to civil rights heroes of the 1960s who bravely stood up to the likes of Bull Connor and George Wallace.

Garcetti did not say that people should violently resist ICE enforcement actions. But he did not responsibly admonish the hot heads that, no matter how much they might disagree with immigration enforcement efforts, violence of any kind, much less on the scale of the 1992 riots, cannot and will not be tolerated.

Whether the mayor intended to or not, his words signal that if community agitators incite violence in Los Angeles the blame will rest with the people who enforce our immigration laws. To the contrary, if Garcett’s dire premonition should materialize (and let’s all hope it does not), the fault will rest with the politicians who have cynically created the perception that enforcing our nation’s immigration laws is evil and resistance, even violent resistance, is a legitimate response to the legitimate exercise of federal authority.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    I have no sympathy for the argument that sanctuary minded local governments can resist the Federal Government in protecting criminals. All the feds need to do is jail employers per existing federal law and the problem of illegal immigration is solved. The Chamber of Commerce won’t like it but idled Americans will have jobs and the illegal aliens that remain will be existing as obvious criminals, selling drugs, women, and extorting. Shouldn’t be too hard to roll them up.

    • avatar

      THE FEDS cannot go into a sovereign state and make arrests on their own; they must be accompanied by a local, county or state law enforcement officer to legally make the arrest.

      • avatar

        I’m a retired police sergeant with over 20 years of experience. I’m not sure what tv cop show you got this outlandish and incorrect information from. The federal law enforcement agencies can go into any state and enforce any federal law they have authority to enforce without any assistance or permission from any state, local or county law enforcement approval.

      • avatar

        Wrong!! That’s what federal Marshalls can and have done.. All they need is a warrant issued from the doj..

  2. avatar
    cynthia curran on

    Latinos will not riot like blacks do. They just leave La and wages rise about .50 to 1 an hour and rent drops 50 t0 200 dollars.

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      Well Cynthia……I have not seen one homeless other than a whites and african Americans asking for money on the streets in America so far..NY…MA, IL….MI..ME…CA etc etc etc

      what’s your story?

      • avatar

        You ain’t walking in the right places of LA.. Go to south hill a sub of LA near watt’s or Inglewood

  3. avatar
    Ursa Worlds on

    I am black and I agree with Leland. Being brought here as slaves is NOT the same as being here illegally. Plus everything blacks fought for illegals are taking advantage. Illegals get everything and are not citizens and don’t have to speak English-thanks to the civil rights act that blacks fought for. Yes I am very mad, but I am madder at politicians that have no respect for blacks and take the black vote for granted. I can’t stand the democrats anymore. Blacks put them in office and then they turn around and kiss the illegals butt. I am so done with the democratic party. And I wish this dummies would quit comparing blacks with illegals. It is a slap in the face. That is why Hillary lost. Many blacks did not come out to vote. Including me.

    • avatar

      For instance, Somalis are being brought here, given everything…..once they see an American in their stores they don’t want them there. AND when becoming a citizen they do not have to speak English ( as confirmed by one of my friends in Winthrop Main and in Nebraska ) they do not want to work and relax smoking their cigars……a big issue…..the illegal or Mexicans work harder than anybody else ( the good ones )…..for instance..I have seen it when I work in three jobs while going to school….

      African Americans are Americans…..that is a fact……their ancestors suffered the most and the reason the statues are being taken down in New Orleans and the South…..because other than an African American, people do not realize what that means to them.

      Now, The parallel of illegals and slaves is that they were both brought here to be abused, period. I have seen it.

    • avatar

      You are funny…..democrats respect you Republicans do not…and not all illegals take advantage of the situation….and yes the good illegals are being abused ( their civil rights…) no differently…)but wit the 21st century system….otherwise they would be slaves and by the way in case you did not know….there were slaves of all types in the world back then here even whites, chinese…..

      • avatar


        Worst & decision EVER by the US Supreme Court…..very disappointing….to live in a country where Freedom was the reason and a future for a better life……still the North was always more civilized back then…….some of it still exists nowadays and was seen when Obama in presidency…even though Obama is not the first African American President but of African descent by inspection with a white mother.

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        https://supreme.justia.com/cases /federal/ us/60/393/case. html

        Worst & decision EVER by the US Supreme Court…..very disappointing….to live in a country where Freedom was the reason and a future for a better life……still the North was always more civilized back then…….some of it still exists nowadays and was seen when Obama in presidency…even though Obama is not the first African American President but of African descent by inspection with a white mother.

    • avatar
      Salathiel Quinn on

      All the democrats have went crazy. I don’t know what has happened to these people. Satan sure has taken over their minds. They don’t realize it ,but they are going to pay dearly.

  4. avatar

    Blacks should be insulted that their century long civil rights struggle is compared to people who broke the law by coming here without permission, or overstaying a visa, and then working here illegally, when all the time they are citizens of another country. What Garcetti is ignoring is that those Southern politicians he talks about were guilty of the same thing he’s doing. Which is, excusing illegal behavior, in their case the denial of constitutionally guaranteed rights to blacks, to get votes. In his case, he’s saying the law of the land doesn’t matter, because he knows it leads to electoral rewards from the Latin community.

    The fact is that both Eisenhower and Kennedy sent troops and federal agents into the south to force integration where necessary. If you look at the story preceding this one, It’s been proven beyond a doubt that illegals are voting by the thousands in Virginia and the state Democratic establishment is resisting efforts to bring it to light. An American citizen who has his vote effectively cancelled by an illegal is robbed of HIS right to participate in our democracy. Maybe the federal govt. should be investigating those jurisdictions who choose to do nothing about illegals voting. Wonder where all the media coverage of those illegal votes was. After all, didn’t we hear time after time that only a handful of such votes ever occurred? Now the MSM is MIA.

    I saw a good comment on the congressional budget office study saying that if Obamacare is repealed then 23 million people will have “no insurance”. But a lot of people now have the worst of both worlds. They have to pay six and seven hundred dollars a month for insurance, and then have to pay every penny for care until they reach deductibles of five or six thousands. That’s worse than no insurance. And why are people forced to pay for other’s substance abuse problems?

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      Not the overstays but inviting them by hiring them and abused them. to the good ones…is about the same but the 21st century style….now you are saying Trump won thanks to the illegals….I think seeing is believing that reading show the proof out of 5500 people….

      Read up Dredd & Scott, they were considered illegals as well…your comparison lack of essence. precedence and history in addition to actual data……get the 5500 votes, where they are from and the results….then you can have an educated, solid fact….

        • avatar

          Almost there…no across the country….extrapolated……you always generalize

          • avatar

            Leland you tend to change realities in your head and to avoid accountability to every fact is in question….why do you always deny the truth? don’t you want o learn the facts before like a monkey bark nonsense…..?

        • avatar

          Please quote me as “saying Trump won thanks to the illegals”. No speeches or deflections. Just quote me.

        • avatar

          Of course they are, they come from Somalia, n different parts of Africaas well…..

          Research the US Supreme Court Dred n Scott …..back then in the obscured, slavery bad times we had they were considered illegals…..I was flabergasted when I earned that…..learn our history n the reason now the started r being removed in the South

          • avatar

            Most blacks in this country go back many generations. They are citizens by the 14th amendment in the 1860s.

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            Leland do not massage history, they were not considered citizens and even their children born here considered illegals……read the terrible history……educate yourself…

        • avatar

          Yes they can…..African people do not only exist in the USA and are also hispanics…..

        • avatar

          Ursa Worlds you see this is one of the problems and mistake people make…..”labeling” the fact people with African descent live here does not mean there us none everywhere els coming here…the same that all illegals are not bad….or like in Illinois they have the stupid idea that African Americans are criminals..because of the Southside..and are racist against them I have seen it…which it is totally ignorant…

          They should build schools fight crime not all of them are “criminals”////not all “illegals” are criminals…you see….