Reacting (and Overreacting) to the Arizona Immigrant Law
You’d almost think Arizona had decided to brand all its Hispanic residents with a scarlet H. That’s how ferociously the American left (and even the near-left) has been reacting to Arizona Senate Bill 1070, the state’s desperate attempt to attack the spreading wildfire known as illegal immigration.
Why was Arizona desperate? Simply because the federal government has done nothing to manage the ongoing illegal immigration crisis, other than propose a vague program that allows illegals to make a lawful transition to legal status — with full amnesty for their past offenses, of course. But meanwhile, who’s minding the border?
The new law, signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, calls for police to be more vigilant in ascertaining the legal (or illegal) status of the state’s residents. Current estimates place Arizona’s illegal immigrant population at just under half a million — not exactly small change for a desert state with one large city. Recent headlines have driven home the message that illegal immigration entails a shocking amount of Hispanic-on-Hispanic crime and abuse: “Immigrants Become Hostages as Gangs Prey on Mexicans“… “Smugglers Torture Illegal Immigrants in Phoenix Drop House” … “67 Illegal Immigrants Found in U-Haul” … Critics of the Arizona law should try living there before they jump to premature conclusions about racism and nativism.
The bill went decidedly overboard at first, with its veiled implications that police could stop anyone who looked vaguely suspicious (and vaguely Mexican) at any time, for any reason. But within a week, the state senate modified the bill to rein in the power of the police: now their investigations would be restricted to suspects who had already been stopped for other offenses.
In other words, aside from whipping out your driver’s license when the police tap on your car window after you’ve been caught speeding, you’re now expected to produce proof that you’re not an illegal immigrant. Could someone explain to me how that’s a violation of anyone’s civil rights? We’re not targeting immigrants, after all — just illegal immigrants. Lawbreakers. Is that a crime?
Ever since the anti-immigration faction passed the bill, the anti-anti-immigration faction has been busy shouting at protest rallies, encouraging a boycott of the entire state and even pointing menacing fingers at baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, whose roster is roughly one-third Hispanic and whose owner emphatically did not support the bill.
What is it about stemming the incursion of illegal immigrants that has all those left-leaning knickers in a twist? Let’s not mince words: they’re protesting because the majority of illegal immgrants are 1) poor, 2) Spanish-speaking 3) people of color. And good liberals know that poor, Spanish-speaking people of color are to be defended to the death, even when they’re breaking the law. (The law shouldn’t really apply to oppressed peoples, they’d argue — because the law is designed to oppress oppressed peoples.)
All well and good… yes, yes, we shouldn’t go out of our way to oppress people who are already oppressed. But let’s apply a little common sense here.
Back in my college years, whenever I’d hear some passionate soul extol the virtues of Cubism, Marxism, black separatism or some other fashionable ism that all enlightened progressives were expected to embrace, I tended to look past the rhetoric and ask myself “Why is that GOOD?” (It’s a habit I’ve developed that probably justified the cost of my college tuition.)
So today we have a steady stream of poor people sneaking past the border (often as part of drug-smuggling and human trafficking operations), settling around the country in staggering numbers, taking lower-tier jobs from working-class Americans, depressing local wages, committing abundant crimes, straining our overburdened social services and conveniently neglecting to pay income taxes to their city, state and country. And I have to ask, at the risk of offending right-thinking liberals and standing on the wrong side of history, “Why is that GOOD?”
Peter Beinart of The Daily Beast has labeled the crusade against illegal immigrants as the latest wave of hysterical American nativism. When right-wing Americans aren’t busy hating blacks, he argues, they hate the foreigners in their midst. Even legal ones.
Would Arizona police question the immigration status of a blond, freckle-faced family if they were caught speeding? Probably not, because illegal immigrants from south of the border tend not to be blond and freckle-faced. “Ah, but that’s racial profiling!,” a conscientious liberal would protest. And that’s a legitimate concern.
But if the occupants of the car happen to be dark-haired and copper-skinned (like me, for example), they have nothing to fear as long as they have nothing to hide. Simple as that. If I were questioned, I’d produce my evidence of citizenship, solemnly accept my ticket for speeding, bid the officer good evening, and ease on down the road (at moderate speed).
I confess that the mass incursion of immigrants from a single, non-assimilating ethno-linguistic group makes me worry more than usual about the future of this republic. My apprehensions have nothing to do with the color of those immigrants. I’d be just as uneasy if we found ourselves invaded by an unrelenting stream of Russians, for example, who created a parallel culture in our midst, balked at learning English, caused the Russian language to sprout on packaging and public signs, formed a permanent underclass and produced two or three offspring for every one of ours.
I think of the creeping Islamization of Europe, which makes me shudder. At least our Hispanic immigrants aren’t innately hostile to our society, but their presence will change it forever — and probably not for the better. Eventually we’ll come to resemble a traditional Latin American republic: a vast realm of impoverished workers and peasants dominated by a tiny, self-perpetuating ruling class living in luxury.
Come to think of it, we’re already heading there even without assistance from our illegal immigrants.