WASHINGTON — Talk about hitting a mule in the head with a two by four just to get its attention! That’s exactly what Arizona did to the Congress and the White House in passing an outrageous law to curtail illegal immigration that may be a nightmare to enforce. Obviously it was born out of the frustration at the federal failure to bring about reform and in enforcing laws already on the books.
But if this monstrosity survives the 90 days before it actually takes effect, good advice might be for every American with a sun tan to stay the heck out of the state or face being rousted by the police who will be required to ask that dreaded question that was one of the hallmarks of Germany’s Third Reich: “You have papers?”
Granted, there are an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona, most of them up from the south and who resemble a large segment of its legal Hispanic population. So how does one determine who belongs there and who doesn’t? By stopping them all. That’s called racial profiling no matter claims to the contrary from the twit of a governor who signed the law and says singling out individuals on the basis of race won’t be tolerated.
Are you nuts, Jan Brewer? How do you think this is going to work? Are your state and local cops going to spend most of their time hassling Anglos and Asians? Of course they aren’t and everyone knows it including those who pushed this abomination through the state legislature with the governor’s blessing. One can only hope that the large number of lawsuits expected to challenge the law stop it before it does irreparable harm to the Arizona economy.
Ideally, this is such an extraordinarily and demonstrably corrupt exercise that it finally will move Congress to deal with the ever-growing immigration problem. Nearly a million men, women and children illegally cross our Southwestern border seeking residence each year and the current national total is estimated at above 12 million.
On the one hand their presence puts huge strains on government services and institutions including education and health care, police and fire while on the other they have provided a valuable force for manual labor that has been increasingly scarce.
A few years ago an often-heard joke was that expelling all the illegal immigrants and then installing a fence along the U.S. side of the border with Mexico to stop them from reentering wouldn’t work because there wouldn’t be anyone left to build it.
Every effort at reform has been shoved aside for political considerations. George W. Bush’s reasonable proposals for bringing some order out of the chaos were thwarted by a coalition of Republicans and Democrats and now President Obama faces the same problems. The recently created Immigration and Custom Enforcement is as bad as the old one. The president angrily denounced the Arizona law as misguided. There certainly is no question about that and it probably is unconstitutional. Worse than that, it is not what this nation is all about.
The political ramifications during an election year are huge. Republicans have been subdued during the screams of anger growing since the action in a state they control. Democrats seemed prepared to push reform to take advantage of seething anger and fear among national Latinos. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made reform a priority but concedes it will take bipartisan support and needs a lot of work. A whole lot of Arizonans should hope not too long.
Meanwhile, it is reported that Gov. Brewer has ordered the state to set up training courses to teach law enforcement officers how to do their job without violating civil rights. What? The best way to accomplish this would have not been to sign the act in the first place, governor. Brewer’s predecessor in the governorship, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, vetoed similar legislation and other states with similar problems have decided such proposals, while tempting, aren’t quite the American way.
Dan Thomasson is the former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.