DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff appeared on the Mark Davis Show on WBAP-820 in Dallas last week to promote the Bush-Kennedy immigration bill. In the process of explaining why he thinks the bill is swell, he discards basic crime-fighting logic. Click to listen.

That muffled thumping you heard was Eliot Ness rolling over in his grave. Under the Chertoff plan, you don’t go after big criminals by enforcing lesser crimes, so the Untouchables’ tactic that got gangster Al Capone put away on tax evasion would be off the table.

Chertoff needs some schoolin’ on crime fighting. How do you catch big, tough criminals? Bigtime criminals tend to be scofflaws in most respects. That goes for illegal alien criminals too. If you, say, ask someone caught jaywalking about their immigration status or do respond to fender-benders involving illegal aliens–both things that Chertoff says he doesn’t want his agents doing–you just might catch that big, tough illegal alien criminal. Or you might not. But at least you’ve sent the message that you will enforce even the little laws. That keeps the would-be scofflaw in line and warns the bigtime crook that you’re after him and eventually you’ll get him if he makes one bad move.

Besides all of that, Chertoff would be wise to remember this minor incident that occurred on September 9, 2001.

PIKESVILLE, Maryland (CNN) — Maryland State Police released a videotape Tuesday of a traffic stop involving hijacker Ziad S. Jarrah two days before the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The state trooper’s dashboard-mounted camera did not capture any images of Jarrah, one of the hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93. But the officer was wearing a wireless microphone, and the audio track captured the driver giving simple “yes” and “no” answers to the trooper’s questions…

Jarrah’s Virginia driver’s license gave his address as 6601 Quicksilver Drive in Springfield, and he can be heard verifying that address to Catalano on the tape.

Registration showed that the red 2001 Mitsubishi Gallant Jarrah drove that night was owned by Garden State Car Rental at Newark, New Jersey International Airport. The car was found at the airport after the September 11 hijackings, and the citation written by Catalano was still in the glove box.

Jarrah was in the US illegally. He had violated his tourist visa when he became a flight student in Florida. Had immigration law been enforced, had he been checked out thoroughly when he was stopped that night in Maryland, Jarrah would not have been available two days later to help kill nearly 3,000 innocent people. He would have been in a cell awaiting a deportation hearing.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers should have been denied visas to even enter the US at all. I’d say that lacking 15 of 19 might have put a dent in the jihadis’ plans.

It would seem that enforcing even minor laws can be a very serious business. That’s something that the head of the Department of Homeland Security ought to know.

After listening to this interview on WBAP, I no longer think that Chertoff is qualified to hold his post. He’s supposed to know security, but he evidently doesn’t know the first thing about crime fighting or proven techniques to catch the crooks and terrorists he says he wants his agents tracking. If his boss had any sense on the issue, Chertoff would be looking for work.

Which means Chertoff’s is the most secure job in the world.