April 28, 2010

As is common knowledge now, on April 23 Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country. Senate Bill 1070 “make[s] attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.” It requires law enforcement to check the status of people suspected of being in the country illegally, makes knowingly hiring illegal aliens a crime and even outlaws one “enter[ing] a motor vehicle that is stopped on a street…in order to be hired by an occupant of the motor vehicle.”

Illegal immigration, unfortunately, is a lot like affirmative action. The majority of the country may oppose it, but any real attempts to do anything about the issue are treated as outbreaks of mass psychosis by the establishment. It’s not surprising that the media has begun smearing Arizona, trying to send a message to any other state out there thinking of actually doing anything to oppose Latino colonization. In addition to the stick of the threat of being considered uncivilized, conservatives are also offered the carrot of better relations with Hispanics if they don”€™t follow in the footsteps of “those bad people over there,” with ominous and subtle warnings about the political dangers of angering the country’s fastest growing demographic.

The day the bill was signed Politico ran an article with the title “What’s the matter with Arizona?” citing a local paper that said the state was “turning into a punch line.” Indeed, the National Catholic Reporter, Center for American Progress, and Metro Latina USA ran articles with the same exact headline; Rasmussen Reports ran one titled “What’s wrong with Arizona?”

According to Arizona Democratic State Representative Kyrsten Sinema the state has “become the laughing stock of the nation.” If Arizona is being laughed at, we have to ask exactly who is doing the laughing? Not only do seventy percent of the people of that state favor SB1070, but sixty percent of all Americans want local police to have the ability to check immigration status.

Perhaps it’s the establishment that’s doing the laughing. Then again, Obama didn”€™t seem to be in a joyous mood when he called the bill “misguided” and announced his Justice Department would look at it. I don”€™t think that Congress is laughing either as they”€™re forced against their will to make immigration their top priority, a move that may very well cause the Democrats to loose both houses in November.

“Those making these kinds of calculations never consider that it’s lax immigration policies which lead to a large Hispanic population in the first place. If your state is unwelcoming they won”€™t come, and if they don”€™t come you don”€™t have to placate them.”

Maybe the churches think all this is funny? Reverend Jim Wallis calls the bill a “social and racial sin.” (You remember learning about “racial sins” in Sunday school, right?) Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony gets no originality-points for pulling out both the Nazi and Communist cards. Evangelical leaders are similarly upset with the measure.

A few days after governor Jan Brewer signed SB1070, the religious, political and activist establishments had become even more hysterical. On Monday the New York Daily News told us:

“New York activists, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, compared Arizona’s new immigration law to apartheid, Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South—and vowed to shut it down with mass protests.

‘We will bring Freedom Walkers to Arizona just like Freedom Riders went to the deep south 50 years ago,’ Sharpton said yesterday…

[The bill] now faces a slew of legal challenges and a review by the U.S. Department of Justice that was ordered by President Obama.

‘When I heard about it, it reminded me of Nazi Germany,’ said Hispanic Federation President Lillian Rodríguez López. ‘It reminded me of South African apartheid.’”

Wow, Lillian, Franco’s Spain and Mussolini’s Italy feel left out.

Quite obviously, these aren”€™t the words of people who are laughing at what’s just happened in Arizona. What you hear is fear coming from an elite which knows the masses are against them and hopes to intimidate the majority of the country into silence.

Greg Dworkin of the Daily Kos warned the Arizona GOP not to follow in the footsteps of the California party, which supported Proposition 187 and has been unable to remain competitive in statewide elections since. Those making these kinds of calculations never consider that it’s lax immigration policies which lead to a large Hispanic population in the first place. If your state is unwelcoming they won”€™t come, and if they don”€™t come you don”€™t have to placate them. The only thing California proves is that the state Republican Party addressed the issue too late.

Unfortunately, the national GOP seems as clueless as ever. On Monday Politico reported, “former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie paraphrase[d] the words of Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: “€˜When immigration is an issue, nobody wins.”€™” Nonsense. If there’s a two party system, then there’s no such thing as an issue which isn”€™t a net benefit for one side. Since in November every seat in the House of Representatives and Senate (with the the exception of one or two) will go to either a Democrat or Republican—and the same can be said for the vast majority of political offices across the country and the presidency in 2012—one party will emerge from the coming immigration fight better off than the other (or nobody will be hurt/helped). It’s simply a logical necessity in a zero sum game where there’s only two players.

Of course, I”€™m only right if the goal of each party is to win elections. As we saw from the McCain campaign, there’s no shortage of Republicans who would rather lose than be suspected of racism. If by “winning” Gillespie means the country club-Republicans being able to both do better in polling while not feeling a pang of white guilt, then there’s probably no way for an immigration battle to be beneficial from his perspective. For immigration reform patriots, however, there’s no reason not to want the national spotlight shining on this issue.


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!