It’s like a raging oil spill, but without those fancy underwater cameras.
Lack of comprehensive immigration reform has allowed an untenable situation to explode into dangerous platitudes, scapegoating, and solve-nothing politics. It has enabled fearful Republican politicians in the heat of challenging midterm elections to exploit the thorny issue of immigration. Ironically, research shows that if politicians would demonstrate a real plan for federal immigration reform, these same officials would see a major boost in support among the majority of voters, who desperately want illegal immigration solved.
For now, like an out-of-control oil slick, Arizona’s controversial new law is poised to spread in a big way — to two dozen other states in the coming months, in the absence of a federal fix. Unlike an out-of-control leak, however, there is a well-documented solution that the majority of Americans support.
Today Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (who’s getting heat in the blogosphere today for wrongly claiming her father was killed fighting Nazi Germany) has secured herself a White House meeting with the President, scheduled for this afternoon. A range of local and national organizations that support federal reform plan to demonstrate in front of the White House, beginning at 1 pm, with a message that the Arizona law must stop in Arizona.
To the Governor’s dismissal of civil rights abuses that could result from the law, conservative columnist Ruben Navarette makes this compelling case:
Here are the facts: (1) Arizona lawmakers have boxed police officers in with a law that requires them — under threat of litigation — to check the citizenship of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally once they make contact due to an alleged infraction; (2) the list of “infractions” is broad enough to include everything from trespassing to vagrancy to soliciting work to attending a party where the music is too loud; and (3) police officers are going to do everything they can to fulfill their obligations under the law.
And, as human beings, those officers will find it difficult not to give in to their prejudices. Take it from the experts. Among the critics of the Arizona law I heard from is a Latino police sergeant in a major U.S. city who, after more than 25 years on the job, knows how this game is going to play out.
“You’re right,” he wrote, “in the real world of policing as a peace officer on the street, any tool will be used to gain an advantage during any contact. It’s our nature to be proactive.”
Which is why the rest of us have to be just as proactive in pointing out what an indefensible law this is — especially to those who are determined to defend it.
Navarette’s sergeant is one of dozens of police chiefs and local AZ cops, who are growing sick of the do-nothing politics of immigration getting in the way of their sworn duties: risking their lives to keep us safe and secure. Just yesterday, the city of Tuscon joined police in a lawsuit against Arizona’s SB 1070, the controversial immigration law set to take effect at the end of July.