THE BLOG
06/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Razing Arizona

Let's tone down the hyperbole on Senate Bill 1070, the Arizona immigration legislation. Those on the right claim this statute is now the panacea for illegal immigration and those on the left claim it is, well, the end of American civilization as we know it. Neither side is correct. On the news, in the blogosphere, and on talk radio Arizona is being razed over an issue that should concern all Americans concerned with the national security of this country.

Reverend Al Sharpton claims SB1070 is profiling and then calls for Freedom Marchers to descend on Arizona ala Martin Luther King's Selma marchers. The comparison doesn't hold. Those brave freedom fighters marched on behalf of American citizens seeking the right to vote. Sharpton's claim that SB1070 institutionalizes profiling doesn't withstand scrutiny. But playing the race card helps inflame those incensed by injustice without the need to read the bill, let alone understand its plain language.

To see how surreal the criticism of the bill gets, consider this from Muddy Waters Guitars' posting on the democraticunderground.com website:

Arizona will very soon be a Blue State. . .It's sweet historical justice-- Arizona, after all, was one of the states seized in the Mexican-American War in 1848 (a war fought to extend slavery into the Southwest, since Mexico had banned it well before the United States had). And despite numerous treaties, laws and guarantees that would supposedly safeguard the rights of the indigenous Latinos and native Americans who long preceded settlement by the pro-slavery Anglos who eventually took over the state, those promises were broken one after another. That's one of the reasons that Arizona is in the hands of wingnuts today-- the wingnuts' predecessors have been especially aggressive in their imperialistic BS in Arizona since 1848.

President Lincoln signed the Arizona Organic Act establishing the territory as free. New Mexico, on the other hand, was the slave-territory, although the slaves were essentially Native American on Native American or Hispanic-owned slaves. But history is apparently immaterial, since the only conclusion the author makes is that wingnuts descended from settlers in Arizona and that is why SB1070 was passed and it's apparently all about making Arizona a Blue State and has nothing to do with the crime of illegal immigration or national security.

I doubt Reverend Sharpton has actually read the legislation. That's probably asking too much. I actually doubt that most of those screaming racism, Nazism, racial profiling, have actually read the bill.

In case you haven't, you can read or download the entire text of Senate Bill 1070 here.

Consider just one paragraph of the bill:

FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON.

Article 8, Section 11-1051, Paragraph B., lines 20-25

Consider that language again: a law enforcement office must first have "lawful contact." "Reasonable suspicion" must exist that the person is here illegally. A "reasonable attempt" is all the officer can make to determine the immigration status of the person and then, only when "practicable."

That's racist, Reverend Sharpton? Sounds like sound law enforcement to me.

Lost in all of the discussion surrounding SB1070 is the underlying criminal problem of gangs, drug dealing, kidnapping and the crime of being here illegally. After all, the term "illegal alien" denotes illegality. Those here without proper visas, work permits or student visas are here illegally. Arizona is attempting to address a criminal problem, which the federal government has been unwilling and unable to address.

Finally, and most importantly, a porous border and all that comes with that -- drug smuggling, human smuggling, and illegal workers -- shows a blatant disregard for the national security aspects of this issue. A porous, open border enables and actually encourages those enemies abroad to use those borders to enter this country. Or at least enables them to smuggle weapons and other contraband into the United States.

Stop razing Arizona and hold accountable those in Congress who fail to secure the borders, north and south, on land and sea, and in cyberspace and air.