Posted on | April 24, 2010 | 37 Comments
You might think so if you buy into all the media sturm und drang generated by the state’s new law permitting law enforcement to ascertain legal residency. USA Today made sure to get the word “controversial” in their headline — as did Allahpundit, for some reason — and the New York Times plays up the “discrimination” angle:
PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration into law on Friday. Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.
The move unleashed immediate protests and reignited the divisive battle over immigration reform nationally. . . .
The law . . . would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.
Kristallnacht for Hispanics, in other words, the moment it was signed into law and before even one example of “harassment” could take place. Which is to say, the MSM coverage serves to prejudice the reader into accepting the viewpoint of the law’s opponents, that the new measure effectively turns Arizona law-enforcement into a sort of Gestapo to round up brown people.
Three words: Get a grip.
Let’s begin by invoking what I call the Sonny Bono Principle. The California Republican lawmaker (the brainier half of “Sonny and Cher”) was once asked to debate illegal immigration and memorably responded, “What’s to debate? It’s illegal.”
For at least 15 years, the open-borders lobby has striven (a) to blur the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants, and (b) to create the impression that everyone who is concerned about illegal immigration is motivated by anti-Latino prejudice. Goal (a) is obviously necessary to goal (b), because while most Americans disapprove of prejudice, most Americans also disapprove of crime — and it is a crime to enter the United States without lawful permission.
Teddy’s Law and the Brimelow Rule
People who have not studied the history of American immigration (see Peter Brimelow’s 1996 bestseller Alien Nation for an excellent in-depth examination) may be under the impression that U.S. immigration laws are unfairly harsh. In fact, the basic law — the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 — is a liberal measure passed at the height of LBJ’s “Great Society” and personally shepherded through the Senate by Ted Kennedy. And every subsequent revision of the law has been in the direction of greater leniency, with the exception of imposing more severe fines on companies that employ illegal workers (a provision that is even less rigorously enforced than the rest of the immigration laws).
Yet we are constantly told that the anybody who calls for stricter enforcement our Ted Kennedy-sponsored liberal immigration laws is a dangerous right-wing extremist — and probably a racist, to boot. (This phenomenon gave rise to what has become known as The Peter Brimelow Rule, which defines racist as “anyone who is winning an argument with a liberal.”) All of which is nonsense, of course, and utterly ignores the horrifying impact that non-enforcement has on states like Arizona, which has been nearly overwhelmed by a tsunami of illegal immigration.
Just to see how the new law is playing in Arizona, I called our Phoenix friend Barbara Espinosa, who told me she had posted the entire text of the law on her American Freedom blog, and proceeded to given me a detailed lecture about the situation in her state. Just a week ago, for example, federal authorities raided shuttle companies that had been smuggling illegals through Arizona:
An elaborate human-smuggling network that ferried tens of thousands of illegal immigrants into Arizona using shuttle vans was broken up Thursday during a series of raids, federal authorities said.
In what officials called the biggest operation of its kind targeting illegal-immigrant smuggling, 47 people were arrested at five companies in Phoenix, Tucson and Nogales during sweeps involving more than 800 federal agents and local police. . . .
Owners and employees at the shuttle-van companies are accused of bringing illegal immigrants from Mexico into Arizona, where they often were placed in drophouses and later transported to other U.S. cities.
The organization targeted in the raids is accused of illegally transporting more than 80,000 immigrants into the U.S. in the past 10 years. They brought daily van loads of undocumented migrants into the country, using Phoenix as a primary hub.
That’s just the tip of a very large iceberg, folks, and Arizona residents like Barbara have long since grown tired of the criminal violence and other problems resulting from the non-enforcement of immigration laws. Yet when Arizonans try to do something to increase enforcement, they’re denounced for “irresponsibility” and accused of violating “basic notions of fairness” by the President of the United States! Which brings us around to the bipartisan nature of our open-borders problem, as highlighted by John Hinderaker at Power Line:
Whenever President Bush talked about immigration, his approval ratings went down. It was like clockwork: liberals never understood that the fatal decline in Bush’s popularity during his second term had at least as much to do with his advocacy of “comprehensive immigration reform” as with war-weariness.
Amen and hallelujah, Brother John! I’m so glad someone has boiled down to two sentences what I’ve been saying since 2006. Having Republicans pushing for “comprehensive reform” — the politically correct term for amnesty — not only undermined the GOP in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles, it undermined public confidence in the democratic process.
Soccer Moms and ‘Compassionate’ Nonsense
Every time Americans have gotten a chance at an up-or-down vote on immigration, they’ve supported stricter enforcement, and yet politicians — especially Republican politicians — have gone out of their way to avoid framing the issue of illegal immigration in the kind of clear terms that would allow voters a chance to vote for what the majority really want: Strict enforcement of current law, enhanced border security, and aggressive measures to deport those now here illegally.
Why this avoidance strategy? Beyond mere cowardice, there is a political factor well-known to GOP pollsters and strategists, namely that so-called “swing” voters — especially affluent suburban white women — react negatively to harsh rhetoric about immigration. (In fact, these women, whom political demographers first identified as “soccer moms” in the 1990s, respond negatively to most conservative messages, which is what gave rise to Bush’s “compassionate conservative” style of rhetoric.) This is the answer to a question often expressed by mystified conservatives during the 2006-07 amnesty debate: “Why are Republicans pandering to Hispanics?” In fact, the GOP push for amnesty had less to do with winning Hispanic votes than it did with convincing soccer moms that Republicans aren’t a bunch of racist meanies.
Yet for every soccer mom (or upscale urban metrosexual guy) lured into the Big Tent by this kind of amnesty sweet-talk, the GOP loses ground with the far more numerous blue-collar independent voters (a/k/a “Reagan Democrats”) who are vital to Republican electoral success. And this is where Bush’s war policy and his amnesty policy were so disastrously at odds with each other. Reagan Democrats generally support a strong defense, but they have a common-sense skepticism that during the Bush era expressed itself in a question I sometimes heard from talk-radio callers: “Why are we sending American boys to die in a foreign country, when we won’t even defend our own borders against a foreign invasion?”
It’s a good question, and when you combine that with the problem of out-of-control deficit spending, you arrive at Steve Sailer’s memorable summary of Bush-era U.S. policy: “Invade the world, invite the world, in hock to the world.”
Arizona über alles?
So now we are being treated to über the spectacle the media demonizing Arizona as a fascist tyranny merely for putting into law the Sonny Bono Principle that illegal immigration is illegal. And we can expect to see many Republicans running for cover to avoid being asked whether they approve or disapprove of Arizona’s approach to border security. (Expect Jon Stewart at Comedy Center and the Olbermann/Maddow axis at MSNBC to play the Nazi card, complete with German accents as they repeat the phrase, “Where are your papers?“)
Republicans can stop running scared now, however, because Democratic control of the White House and Congress means that fixing our immigration problem is — at least until January 2011 — the job of Democrats. As with so much else during this new era of Hope and Change, there is no need for the GOP to outline any specific policy of their own. All Republicans have to do is to speak the truth: Namely that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have made an utter botch of border security, and to oppose whatever liberal legislation they might propose to enact.
As opposed to campaign rhetoric — where the media lets Democrats get away with nebulous promises and glittering generalities — the devil is in the details when it comes to actually crafting laws, as the health-care debate showed.
Whatever immigration law Democrats may attempt to ram through Congress is sure to contain some elements that will be opposed by a majority of voters. The GOP strategy will be to focus the debate those elements to which Democrats are firmly committed (as sops to ethnic-grievance interest groups) but which are unpopular with independent “swing” voters.
And if the Democrats decide to punt the issue until after the election? Then the Republicans get to accuse Democrats of doing nothing to address the problem.
Immigration is now a win-win for Republicans, you see. As for the Arizona law, the GOP message is (a) that the citizens of Arizona have the right to do what they feel is necessary to preserve public safety, (b) that the federal courts will determine if the Arizona law is constitutional, and most of all (c) that the Arizona law wouldn’t be necessary if the Obama administration would get serious about protecting the border.
As for the MSM’s insinuation that Arizona is now a totalitarian dictatorship with genocidal ambitions, there’s this advice from Professor Glenn Reynolds:
Were I representing Arizona, I’d argue that the federal government is in default on its “protection against invasion” responsibility, and that this empowers the state to resort to self-help.