Rogue State Arizona

Like most major news organizations, CNN occasionally throws out some red meat to what remains of its base of readers and viewers in the form of propaganda that hits the right ideological cords.  Apparently they wanted to give particularly prominent billing to one such piece today, as it popped up on their iGoogle widget.  According to the title of the article, written by Ruben Navarrette, Arizona is a “rogue state at war.” 

As his hyperbolic title implies, Navarrette shares the pervasive heartburn on the left over the Arizona immigration law.  In his words,

(Arizona Governor Jan) Brewer just signed SB 1070, a disgraceful anti-immigration and pro-racial-profiling law, to give local and state cops throughout the state the chance to suit up and play border patrol agent. Why shouldn’t she get the chance to suit up and play general?”

In accordance with established precedent, he never bothers to actually quote the sections of the law he finds “anti-immigration” and “pro-racial-profiling.”  There’s good reason for that.  There aren’t any.  In fact, the law specifically prohibits racial profiling.  For example, according to Section 2B,

A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color, or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.

and similar wording appears in Sections 3C and 5D.  One could, of course, claim that the “real” intent of the law is to condone racial profiling in spite of its repeated and explicit rejection thereof if it were impossible for law enforcement officers to reasonably form the suspicion that someone was in the country illegally for any other reason.  However, that claim is nonsense, based as it is on the supposition that nothing in the dress, manner, or behavior of an individual could possibly lead an experienced law enforcement officer to suspect such a thing.

In fact, the idea that SB1070 condones racial profiling is so absurd that no one who has actually read the short, ten page law could rationally make such a claim.  I suspect that’s the reason for the now familiar claim we’ve heard from the likes of Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano that they haven’t actually read the bill.  It gives them an out.

In fact, the Arizona law is pretty lame stuff, and it’s hard to imagine what all the fuss is about unless one realizes that ones opinion concerning it happens to be a litmus test that distinguishes those who live in the ideological box on the left from those who live in the ideological box on the right in this country.  In other words, its something like the Three Chapters controversy, which raised furious passions in the days of the Emperor Justinian, even though no one outside of a seminary could distinguish what it was the two sides were actually fighting about today, or the controversy over whether Communion in both kinds was permissible or not, a question over which a long series of wars were fought, even though not one person in a thousand could explain the difference between the two sides today.  It serves as a similar red flag in our own day, inflaming the passions of the partisans of the two sides, although it is otherwise unlikely to have a significant effect on the inhabitants of Arizona, whether there legally or not.  Hence Mr. Navarrette’s furious pronunciamiento against the “rogue state.”

Once he has put the oppressive tyrants of Arizona in their place with sufficient contempt, Navarrette regales us with accounts of all the wonderful things the Administration is doing to prevent illegal immigration.  For example,

So I can tell you what the border patrol agents on the ground would tell you: The U.S.-Mexico border has never been more fortified. There are now more than 20,000 border patrol agents on the federal payroll. That’s more agents than any other federal enforcement agency, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Those agents apprehend people and deport them at a feverish clip. In fact, it was recently announced that the Obama administration deported more people last year than the Bush administration during its final year in office.

Of course, what all these wonderful and praiseworthy efforts have in common is that they are completely ineffective.  Those who are deported “at a feverish clip” merely suffer the inconvenience of having to re-cross the border, taking better care not to get caught the second time around.  Navarrette continues,

If the federal government does take border enforcement seriously, critics might ask: Why are there still people trying to enter the United States illegally? Simple. We can dig a moat, deploy an army, build walls or call in an airstrike, but desperate people will always find a way to go around, under or over any impediment in their path to a better life.

In fact, history provides ample proof of the fact that moats, walls, and airstrikes are not necessary to stop the illegal crossing of borders.  What is required is the political will to stop it, and that will is lacking.  It is cold comfort that the Republicans also lacked that will.  Why compare failures?  Navarrette aims another slap at the Republicans in his closing paragraph:

There’s only one of those (magic bullets for stopping illegal immigration). It involves fining, arresting and prosecuting the employers of illegal immigrants, including people who are, this election year, streaming into fundraisers for McCain, Brewer and other tough-talking Republicans vowing to solve a problem that many of their backers helped create.

I’m on board with that, but it’s all one, really.  We’re only arguing about how to shut the barn door now that the horses have already escaped.  The chances are slim that we’ll even bother.  After all, Navarrette is right about the Republicans.  They’re all talk.  They had eight years to do something about illegal immigration during the Bush administration and accomplished nothing.  As long as the people who keep their campaign coffers full continue to require cheap labor, we can safely assume they will continue to accomplish nothing if they regain power, all their rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding.  There’s nothing for it, really, but to grin and bear it.

Author: Helian

I am Doug Drake, and I live in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. I am a graduate of West Point, and I hold a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin. My blog reflects my enduring fascination with human nature and human morality.

2 thoughts on “Rogue State Arizona”

  1. The Arizona law was also reported here in Germany, naturally tending towards the negative. And nobody noticed that it seems to be fairly similar to existing German law.

    Unfortunately, legal jargon is far outside my areas of expertise, so I am unable to make an accurate comparison.
    There is, for example, a difference between festnehmen and festhalten, similar to the difference between arrest and detain. Also there is Ausweisspflicht (ID required) but not Mitfuehrpflicht (not required to carry), and different definitions of Ordnungswidrigkeit and Straftat, something like misdemeanor and crime.

    If someone could be found who understands both English and German legalese, a comparison would be interesting. I wonder not if any one would issue travel warnings or call for boycotts if they turned out to be essentially the same.

    Here is a German Wiki page with a short summary of the German immigration law:

    See also “Schleierfahndung”

  2. I suspect it doesn’t really matter what the law says or means at this point, any more than what General McChrystal actually said in the Rolling Stones interview that cost him his job. It has become an ideological symbol for both sides, representing the divide over whether to control immigration or not. Obama and the Democrats realize they need the Hispanic vote to win elections. That will determine their position on the law, not any concern about what it actually says.

Leave a Reply