Saturday, April 24, 2010

An Immigration Law In Arizona

All politics is (are?) local, so they say, and we have now an instance where a local response to a national issue threatens to become a national issue. I speak of course of yesterday's signed bill in the State of Arizona. From the WaPost article, "Under Arizona's new law, to take effect in 90 days, it will be a state crime to be in the country illegally, and legal immigrants will be required to carry paperwork proving their status. Arizona police will generally be required to question anyone they "reasonably suspect" of being undocumented -- a provision that critics argue will lead to widespread racial profiling, but that supporters insist will give authorities the flexibility to enforce existing immigration laws."

Where to begin, where to begin. First thing though, this issue is definitely on the agenda for the radio program on Wednesday night. To tee things up though, I have a couple of thoughts:

1. While the Feds control the borders, the states bear the brunt of federal border protection ineffectiveness. States and localities deal with crime, indigent issues (food, health care, shelter) etc. that flow from poor border protection, only very rarely is this a federal problem (once an illegal is in the country).

2. Arizona's Governor is a Republican in a tight re-election race. This issue (being tough on illegal immigration) plays well with her base.

3. Being tough on illegal immigration/border control plays well everywhere with the Republican base--but it plays horribly among Hispanics--a group that Republicans are trying to make inroads with in order to construct electoral majorities.

4. Politically speaking and tactically speaking, this is a problem for Republicans nationwide and will put Republicans on the defensive at the very time they need to be on the offensive. Why will this put Republicans on the defensive? Because the Bought and Paid for Media will naturally alight to the plight of the downtrodden immigrant and the worst parodies of Republicans and Conservatives will play out hourly in the news cycle. I'm not saying this is right, I'm saying that this will happen. Immigration reform is a loser issue for Republicans and the Democrats know it. Harry, Nancy and Barack are just fine with the AZ Governor stepping out in the lead like this. If this thing breaks out as a big issue--Repubs will do well in November--just not as well as they could.

5. The porous nature of our border with Mexico is a scandal and a serious national security issue. THIS is where Republicans need to concentrate our fire. Aiming it at the people who make it across the border ultimately undercuts our effectiveness. I have sympathy for the problems that Arizona officials face because of the feds inability to perform a very basic job (border protection), but this law, this series of actions by Arizona is a political poison pill--and a civil rights tinderbox.

6. What are the triggers that will drive an Arizona police officer to "reasonably suspect" that someone is here illegally? Presumably, how someone looks or dresses or speaks may play into it. But aren't there a ton of people in the American southwest who are solid, natural born American citizens who would trip the "your papers please" request from the law enforcement official? Some would say, "well yes, but that is the price we pay for our liberty"...which is nice, as long as it isn't YOU who are accosted on the street and told to produce your ID. This isn't a case of producing an ID in order to gain access to a service, benefit or emolument. This is the production of ID papers simply at the whim of a police officer who "reasonably suspects" that you might be illegal. There is a difference, friends, and it is an important one.

7. I used to be in the Navy, and we feared two things at sea--fires and floods--and the flood metaphor works here. When there was a flood, the first thing you did was isolate the source of the flood--shutting valves, patching pipes, plugging holes--or what have you. You did not worry about "dewatering" the space until the hole was patched. Republicans need to take a "flooding" approach to illegal immigration--we need to vastly rein in the anti-immigrant talk and policies that target the actions of illegal immigrants already here (de-watering) --and concentrate our energy EXCLUSIVELY on fixing the border (isolate the leak). Once we've got policies, resources and processes in place--we should turn to immigration reform that actually begins to get at the tougher questions of what to do with illegals who are here. These are severable issues, and I think we ought to sever them.

8. President Obama is sitting back and licking his chops at the prospect of a civil rights case that will invariably flow from the logical and foreseeable implementation of this law. Nothing good for Republicans will come of this.

I know we've got a lot of Red Meaters out there, and this issue is something for you to get your teeth into. Resist it, and urge Republican leaders to resist it. This is a pitch in the dirt--we shouldn't be swinging at it.


BigFred said...

Your "flooding" analogy may be the smartest thing you have ever written.

Tom de Plume said...

Not a lose/lose for Republicans, rather a lose/lose for America because we are now being held hostage by law breakers and their sympathizers.

Goldwater's Ghost said...

Yes, I agree that nothing good for Republicans can come from this. And your points #5 and #7 is how Republicans ought to frame the debate.

Doc Milnamo said...

I know I'm being way over-simplistic on this one; just check the immigration status of everyone you pull over for speeding, etc. You arrest someone for battery, check their status. i don't care what they look like, or what they sound like.

We are in agreement as to the Federal Government's deriliction of duty in shoring up the border - all borders. For now, the toothpaste is out of the tube. Deal with what you can.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Doc--I'm with you, as for how this should be implemented to avoid civil rights legal issues. No one should be approached with this as the primary rationale--it should be for something else--vagrancy, drunkenness, assault, motor vehicle infractions, what have you.

But that still doesn't solve the's just bad for Republicans.

"The Hammer" said...

You're just saying what I said yesterday. It's a contest between law and order and perceived racism. I'm not absolutely sure, but I think we may have reached a tipping point with this "racist" slur. Any criticism of the left (especially Obama) is deemed racism. It's getting very old and I think it's played out. In fact, I think there's going to be a huge backlash. People just aren't buying it anymore. We'll see if I'm right this Nov.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Yep hammer, that's what I do here--I lay in wait for you to render an opinion, and then I ape it. Yep. You've figured me out.

Ghost of Halloween Past said...

Well put, CW. Nothing good for Republicans politically, and nothing good for US citizens in general will come of 'bailing out' Arizona, as you so aptly put it.

"The Hammer" said...

That ain't what I meant Bub. Is it that time of the month for you?

Sally said...

Hold on a minute here. I agree with most of your points that this has disaster written all over it, but I still think the Arizona governor deserves a lot of credit for having the balls to sign this into law. And she wasn't strictly playing to her base, over 70% of Arizonans wanted this.

Why is no one mentioning the event-the murdered rancher-that precipitated the Arizona legislature acting in the first place?

I think the biggest result of this is illegals will just find their way to the welcoming arms of California instead of Arizona.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Balls Sally? She didn't need any. Again, as a local issue, this is a no-brainer. Balls would have been vetoing it. Signing was easy.

But then again, that's the distinction I'm making here between the local issue and the national issue.

Mudge said...

Too bad the census didn't have the question: Are you an American Citizen?

Think how much we are spending to track down illegal aliens for the census. Because, as criminals, illegal aliens are reluctant to fill out the census so we hire Spanish-speaking community organizers to go find them and, after giving them a government-sponsored hug, we assure them that the only reason we need their information is so the government who keeps hugging them can use their count to demand more of it's citizens' tax dollars. This is akin to someone breaking into your house, then having the government step in to assist the criminal when you refuse to let him eat your food and wear your clothes. Undocumented worker my ass. When someone's very first act upon American soil is to violate American law, he or she is a criminal. And we've got enough damned criminals of our own that we hardly need to import any more. There is a process by which foreign-born humans yearning to be free, or wealthier or whatever, can LEGALLY become an American citizen. But it's too hard? Tough, it's worth it. Or at least it used to be.

Is this really the United States of America anymore?

Sally said...

No CW, she had balls because she knew signing this would instantly brand her intolerant, xenophopic, etc. See your item #4. How long has this been a problem? How many politicians before her had the courage and will to do anything about it? ZERO. She deserves some credit (which I'll rescind if she signs that ridiculous Arizona birther bill into law).

"The Hammer" said...

This "birther" crap is an embarrassment. I love conspiracy theories, even got a few of my own, but this stuff is thin. Makes us look like a bunch of Wahoos.

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