Decades ago, Times Square, Herald Square and other New York tourist areas gave birth to a cottage industry of costumed street performers who earn a living by posing for photographs with Gotham’s many visitors. Typically, these performers dress as pop-culture characters associated with New York, like Spiderman or Batman, and ask for small donations to pose for a photo.
A few years ago, women wearing only thongs and silicone body paint – mostly Hispanic illegal aliens – began appearing amongst the Hulk and Betty Boop impersonators. They are referred to as desnudas (Spanish for “nude women”) and are known for being hyper-aggressive when hustling for tips.
They’re also accompanied by all the public safety problems usually associated with unregulated nude entertainment. And their presence has prompted many observers (New York Governor Andrew Cuomo among them) to comment that Times Square is regressing to the “bad old days,” when it was an unsafe neighborhood associated with prostitution and the drug trade.
In 2015, New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio vowed to crack down on aggressive cartoon characters and nude women in Times Square. But, NYPD officers are now saying that they are deliberately avoiding enforcement actions against rowdy street performers because they believe the majority are illegal aliens and they don’t want to violate Mayor DiBlasio’s sanctuary policies.
The Times Square situation illustrates one of the biggest problems with sanctuary city policies: They trivialize immigration violations. In so doing, they create an excuse for playing down crime committed by immigration violators. What begins as local authorities refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities inevitably ends badly. It morphs into pressure on police officers to ignore lesser crimes committed by illegal aliens, in order to avoid triggering deportations. And in many cases, such policies lead to blatant harboring of illegal aliens, in flagrant violation of federal laws.
When law enforcement agencies turn a blind eye to violations of the laws they are charged with enforcing, it sends a clear message: illegal behavior will be tolerated, ignore the law and do what you will. In the case of illegal aliens, this is a double whammy, it says, “You can violate our immigration laws and our criminal laws without being punished.” But we should be sending a very different message. Something along the lines of: “Don’t come here uninvited. And when you are a guest here, obey our laws or go home.”
Former mayor Rudi Giuliani changed Times Square from an open-air drug market surrounded by pornographic bookstores into a premier attraction filled with family-friendly venues. He didn’t do that by being overly tolerant of bad behavior. But Mayor Giuliani understood what every parent, teacher, parole officer and priest understands intuitively – condoning bad behavior just leads to more bad behavior.
So maybe it’s time for Bill DiBlasio to tell the desnudas to put their clothes on and go home. New York City may be unique. Yet in this instance, it’s a microcosm of Everytown, USA. We Americans want our country back and we are tired of the naked idiocy so often displayed by our state and local leaders when it comes to immigration policy.