Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Clarence B. Jones Headshot

Somebody Close the Door: Reactions to Arizona Immigration Law Misses the Big Picture

Posted: Updated:

A good doctor knows to treat the disease, not the symptoms.

In the discussion about the new law passed in Arizona directed at addressing that state's problems associated with illegal immigrants from Mexico, the protests concerning the legislation are directed at the wrong parties, in the wrong direction. The pro-immigration community, some church groups and many Civil Rights leaders are all calling for a boycott of the State of Arizona based on their belief that the new Arizona law is focused on "racial profiling" as the method for identifying possible illegal Mexican immigrants.

As an African-American who lived through and before the Civil Rights Movement, I'm no fan of assessing people based on their skin color. But holding a struggling State's feet to the fire on tactics is missing the point . Why are protests not being directed to our national government and the government of Mexico? Why aren't these groups demanding that our porous border with Mexico be closed, once and for all? It's not impossible. We have the most sophisticated surveillance and monitoring technology in history, the most formidable military in the world, yet we are unable to stop the daily intrusion of illegal immigrants from Mexico into the United States? This is a failure of policy, not one of capability.

Congress has been unwilling to pass an immigration bill, the first priority of which is closing the border. Why does "immigration reform" now demand a higher national priority than the crippling unemployment that is devastating the economic base and precipitating wide spread home foreclosures in our communities? President Obama said the health reform was the first priority of his first term. Now, he is turning his attention to financial reform of the banking system. Meanwhile, cities like Phoenix and many cities in the State of California and elsewhere are drowning in red ink with an ever-growing population demanding ever-more city services.

Arizona is now being depicted as the official state of "racial profiling," with anti-Hispanic and anti-immigration swirling around it like scarlet letters. But the passage of its bill to prevent the continued influx and presence of illegal immigrants in the State appears more like an act of desperation than racially motivated legislation.

The pro-illegal immigration amnesty movement shuns the classification "illegal" immigrant; preferring instead the term "undocumented immigrant." This is, of course, framing the debate. The "undocumented" immigrants entered into the United States illegally. When apprehended, deportation back to their country of origin is the customary legal procedure. Now, however, an intermediary process is advocated in lieu of deportation: an undocumented immigrant who, after following certain prescribed procedures, including the payment of taxes, will be permitted to remain in the United States. This constitutes de facto amnesty for the "undocumented immigrant." As such, it relieves the government of Mexico from any financial responsibility for the economic consequences associated with the cost of medical care, public education, public housing, welfare, police, and social services provided by the cities, counties and states in which such initially illegal immigrants choose to reside.

Well-intentioned people are quick to denounce Arizona and call for a boycott of business transactions or travel involving the state. Why are they not calling for a boycott of Mexico? The truth is that Mexico is exporting, or at the very least facilitating the export, of its poverty in the form of illegal immigrants to the United States.

Any version of amnesty for illegal immigrants and efforts to organize a boycott of Arizona will detract from the number one priority affecting substantial segment of the American people: unemployment. Moreover, it will blow a hole in the projected operating costs and budget deficit projections in the new health care bill.

Why don't the pro-amnesty undocumented immigrant leaders join forces with the "anti-illegal immigration" leaders and bring the Government of Mexico to the table? The annual cost of maintaining and providing services to illegal or "undocumented" citizens should be tabulated, assumed and paid by the Government of Mexico or credited against the annual cost of oil we import from them until such time as immigrants from their country become U.S. citizens.

Let's face it: right or wrong, the Arizona legislation is treating the symptoms of an international disease that needs much stronger medicine.