Mayor Giuliani will be visiting Geno’s steaks tomorrow, possibly burnishing his immigration image. As many of you know, Mayor Giuliani’s first priority as Mayor of NYC was to lower crime. Since so much of the crime happens in neighborhoods chockablock with illegal immigrants, he needed to ensure they felt comfortable reporting crimes to the constabulary. This meant they had to understand– in that that context– that the second they called 911 the INS wouldn’t be coming down on them like the ATF at Waco.
Hizzoner did that, and proceeded to earn the enmity of those that pine for a day when when the INS will be outfitted like SWAT teams to descend with military precision every time a landscaping service starts work, or a high-end restaurant opens for business.
Mayor Giuliani has made abundantly clear, though, that his administration would make enforcement of the borders a top priority, so illegals will find it far more difficult to gain entry to the US. Applying the lessons of Compstat are abundantly clear here. This is a pure law-enforcement issue. He has also made clear deporting illegals who have committed crimes in addition to that of entering the country would be a top priority as well.
Many immigration hawks find this measured approach unsatisfactory, despite the financial and human costs that would be associated with a massive domestic mobilization to deport millions of people. Joey Vento, owner of Geno’s steaks, is widely considered an immigration hawk.
For those that don’t know, Geno’s is a legendary purveyor of Philadelpia cheesesteaks, one of man’s tastier sandwich inventions. Geno’s and Pat’s King of Steaks have stood across from each other for decades in South Philly, not far from the Italian market, in constant struggle over the cheesesteak crown. [Aside: This author definitely prefers Geno’s to Pat’s. But I also, culinarily, prefer Tony Luke’s and Chink’s to Geno’s. Geno’s, though, has the better vibe.]
Joey Vento also became a minor political celebrity when he posted a sign outside Geno’s demanding his customers order in English. As this is a neighborhood where forty years ago you were as likely to hear Italian on the street as English, some people thought this rather narrow-minded and xenophobic. Those people, as usual, missed the point. The point is this: The denizens of South Philadelphia are friendly to recent immigrants. They don’t have to go far back on the family tree to find someone recently off the boat. And they aren’t racist. A walk down the Italian Market will reveal that today it could probably be more accurately called the “Italian/Korean Market”.
But even here it is understood that English is important. Their parents tried to learn English. Mr. Choi at the vegetable stand learned English. Besides, how much English do you need to know to say “One steak, wit”? That’s one cheesesteak with fried onions, by the way. The cheese will almost always be whiz. You might be able to get away with asking for Provolone or American. Stop freelancing after that, and do NOT ask for Swiss like John Kerry did at Pat’s.
Anyway, the point here is this: If Rudy Giuliani can earn the respect of Joey Vento, then those that find Giuliani too soft on immigration will be revealed– at best– to have an awfully optimistic estimation of our government’s ability to organize mass deportations.