A blurry line

Last week the United States Attorney for Minnesota held a press conference to annnounce the indictment of 25 defendants for operating an international sex trafficking ring whose hub was based in Minneapolis. Listening to the charges described at the press conference, I thought the crimes charge sounded like some kind of Third World nightmare that has erupted in our midst.
That is in fact what seems to have occurred. The gist of the indictment is that numerous women have been imported from Mexico and Central America and essentially held in bondage to work as sex slaves on behalf of the defendants. Seventeen of the 25 defendants are illegal aliens and all of the victims are illegal aliens.
Authorities from the various law enforcement agencies that participated in the investigation — the St. Paul Police Department, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — attended the press conference. According to the indictment, the hub of the ring and most of its business sites were located in Minneapolis.
Yet the Minneapolis Police Department was conspicuous by its absence at the press conference. It had not participated in the investigation. It had apparently turned a blind eye to the alleged ring over the years it had been operating under its nose. And during the press conference Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Police Chief Tim Dolan emailed the media to distance themselves from the indictment, reminding the media that Minneapolis authorities “will not enforce immigration policy.” The St. Paul Pioneer Press story on the indictment quotes the Minneapolis Police Department spokesman Amelia Huffman:

[W]e do not independently investigate, we do not detain, we do not arrest, when immigration violations are the principal issue. We are interested in making Minneapolis safe for all residents of the community, regardless of immigration status.

Twin Cities media have studiously avoided exploration of the anomalies represented by the pronouncements of Minneapolis’s Mayor and law enforcement authorities. In her Star Tribune column today, however, Katherine Kersten asks the mayor what’s happening here:

On Wednesday, Rybak acknowledged that the ordinance doesn’t bar police from engaging in crime fighting just because immigration is involved. “When the issue is clearly prostitution, we will continue to stand strong against it,” he said.
But wasn’t prostitution the issue in the sex ring bust? “The line between what is prostitution and what is immigration was blurry,” Rybak replied.

The problem is that it’s a bad line to draw to begin with. When you start with an erroneous premise, you necessarily produce an erroneous (if not laughable) conclusion. Mayor Rybak serves as a potent case study in the perils of serving up political correctness as public policy.
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