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William Fisher

William Fisher

Posted: May 16, 2010 09:42 AM

An Open Letter To Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen

What's Your Reaction:

Dear Senator Allen:

Thanks for publishing your oped in the Austin Capital Times to explain SB 1070, Arizona's new immigration law. Frankly, I think some of the rhetoric applied to this new measure has managed to generate a lot of heat but not much light. Some of the knee-jerk Arizona-bashers among us just haven't caught up with your side of the story yet.

On the other hand, I think it's important that we all agree on the basic facts at play here. What would we ever do if Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan had never said, "We're all entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts."

You write that "Rancher Rob Krantz was murdered by the drug cartel on his ranch a month ago. You say the people who live within 60 to 80 miles of the Arizona/Mexico Border have for years been terrorized and have pleaded for help to stop the daily invasion of humans who cross their property. One Rancher testified that 300 to 1200 people a DAY come across his ranch vandalizing his property, stealing his vehicles and property, cutting down his fences, and leaving trash. In the last two years he has found 17 dead bodies and two Koran bibles."

"Another rancher testified that daily drugs are brought across his ranch in a military operation. A point man with a machine gun goes in front, 1/2 mile behind are the guards fully armed, 1/2 mile behind them are the drugs, behind the drugs 1/2 mile are more guards... One man told of two illegal's (sic) who came upon his property one shot in the back and the other in the arm by the drug runners who had forced them to carry the drugs and then shot them."

I have no doubt that, from your perspective, all your statements are true and un-challengable. And one can't help but feel great compassion for the folks who suffered these losses.

But let me tell you where I think there are other facts that also need to be understood.

These facts are that crime rates and violence in Arizona are down, not up. Federal statistics show that in fact violent crime in your state was lower in 2008 than it has been since the early 1970s. In fact, violent crime and property crime have fallen consistently in all the border states over the last several years. The Mayor of Hidalgo, Texas, said that in his 20 years as mayor there has not been a single homicide, and there was only one kidnapping, committed by a registered sex offender from California.

But there's an even more significant context here. We all need to be careful to distinguish between cartelistas in the drug trade and ordinary Mexicans who are coming to our country to work and earn money to send home. The druggistas are vicious thugs who are breaking our people and our laws. They need to be caught. But that's not going to be easy so long as it's our own appetite for the toxins they peddle that keeps them in business and doing very nicely, thanks very much.

(Maybe when we have more time, we can have a discussion about the impact that drug legalization might have on the border problem, but that's for another day.)

You say that "The border patrol is not on the border. They have set up 60 miles away with checkpoints that do nothing to stop the invasion. They are not allowed to use force in stopping anyone who is entering. They run around chasing them, if they get their hands on them then they can take them back across the border."

Well, Senator, you are absolutely right that the Border Patrol is not on the border. The fact is that their checkpoints are invasive law enforcement roadblocks that do not improve security but do infringe on the civil rights of border residents.

You write that Federal prisons have over 35% illegal's (sic) and 20% of Arizona prisons are filled with illegals. In the last few years 80% of our law enforcement that have been killed or wounded have been by an illegal.

Here, I have to tell you the percent of illegals you say is in jails or committing crimes is simply wrong. It's possible that prisons have 35% non-citizens, but that's not the same as illegal immigrants. And I'm sorry to have to tell you that your claim about injury to law enforcement being 80% caused by illegal immigrants is completely spurious. It's your own fact!

You say, "the Federal Government has refused for years to do anything to help the border states. We have been over run and once they are here we have the burden of funding state services that they use. Education costs have been over a billion dollars. The healthcare cost billions of dollars. Our State is broke, $3.5 billion deficit and we have many serious decisions to make. One is that we do not have the money to care for any who are not here legally. It has to stop."

I think most immigration experts and reliable economists would agree that Arizona's fiscal problems are not the result of unlawful entries. In fact, most unlawful entries are of migrants seeking work, contributing a net gain to Arizona's economy. Contrary to widespread misunderstanding, most undocumented workers pay taxes, including sales taxes and income taxes, which are often withdrawn before the worker is paid. Furthermore, I am not an economist, but it seems more reasonable to suggest that Arizona's fiscal problems are much more a result of a national and global economic meltdown.

You say, "The border can be secured. We have the technology we have the ability to stop this invasion. We must know who is coming and they must come in an organized manner legally so that we can assimilate them into our population and protect the sovereignty of our country. We are a nation of laws. We have a responsibility to protect our citizens and to protect the integrity of our country and the government which we live under."

You go further. You say you "would give amnesty today to many, but here is the problem, we dare not do this until the Border is secure. It will do no good to forgive them because thousands will come behind them and we will be over run to the point that there will no longer be the United States of America but a North American Union of open borders. I ask you what form of government will we live under? How long will it be before we will be just like Mexico,, Canada or any of the other Central American or South American countries? We have already lost our language, everything must be printed in Spanish also. We have already lost our history it is no longer taught in our schools. And we have lost our borders."

I think what I'd most like to get across to you is that reforming the immigration system and creating legal avenues for migration is the way to improve border security and traffic flows at the border. I can't believe that you think that "securing the border first" means that there will be absolutely zero crime or unlawful entries. Heck, this is an expectation for law enforcement that cannot be serious, given that all communities have criminal incidents. To be perfectly frank, Senator, I find this a shortsighted and reactionary response to an over-hyped perception of border violence that is not borne out by evidence.

Now, here's the part of your letter that I find most disturbing. I am old enough to remember the House un-American Activities Committee hearing in the House of Representatives. And the incessant rantings of Senator Joe McCarthy about how the Commies were taking over our government. Why, he even thought President Eisenhower was a pinko agent!

Well, here you go with that same kind of "guilt by association" vitriol - with lots of "facts" that came straight out of cloud cuckooland and are now very much your own facts, like:

"The leftist media has distorted what SB 1070 will do. It is not going to set up a Nazi Germany . Are you kidding. The ACLU and the leftist courts will do everything to protect those who are here illegally, but it was an effort to try and stop illegal's from setting up businesses, and employment, and receiving state services and give the ability to local law enforcement when there is probable cause like a traffic stop to determine if they are here legally....No one is going to be stopped walking down the street etc....The Socialist who are in power in DC are angry because we dare try and do something and that something the Socialist wants us to do is just let them come. They want the 'Transformation' to continue".

Well, Senator, all I can say about your hysteria is that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palen must be very proud of you. But I wonder if are those the people whose information you respect and find credible? Do you really want to be publicly associated with these two people whose breadth of misinformation and disinformation is surpassed only by their greed for the big bucks they get by brainlessly running their motor-mouths.

You wonder, "Maybe it is too late to save America." And I wonder what America it is whose loss you're lamenting? This really does sound like some nostalgic look-back at a faux narrative many of us persuaded ourselves was really "the way we were." You are eager to "take back" a country that never existed, except in John Wayne films.

I agree with you that "Freedom is not free," but I suggest we can start paying the price for being able to live as free people not by launching ad homonym attacks on the character and honesty of the President, but by starting real work solving real problems.

You and I might agree on a couple of other things. I think we'd probably agree with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who has said that to do its job effectively, the Department of Homeland Security needs reform. "The laws themselves must be reformed," she believes."

And I think we'd probably agree with Border leaders who emphasize that there is a "right way" to do border enforcement. Comprehensive immigration reform would further secure our borders and help keep the country safe. A regulated flow of immigrants would take the pressure off the border and scarce enforcement resources would be more rationally focused on real threats to national security, public safety and the flow of people and commerce. Our collective failure to fix the broken immigration system has undermined real and effective border security. In recent years, the federal government has dedicated unprecedented resources to the Mexican border in terms of manpower, technology and infrastructure-and progress has been made to secure our border. However, without fixing the immigration system, more resources on the border bring diminishing returns.

I think we might agree with your Congressman Raul Grijalva, who says, ""Border security cannot be separated from the need for comprehensive immigration reform. A sane immigration and citizenship system needs to accompany smartly targeted law enforcement measures -- merely spending billions of dollars on fences is no kind of 'safety' policy,"

I don't think SB 1070 is good law. I think it will probably be found unconstitutional. I also think that it's going to cost Arizona a bunch of money in lost convention and tourism revenue. Yet it's possible that some really good tings are going to emerge from the controversy over the law.

It's possible that the hue and cry over SC 1070 - and the copycat laws now being considered by many other states - will finally light a big fire under President Obama and Secretary Napolitano to actually come up with a comprehensive immigration plan, get it passed this year, and start making the changes that'll make your life a lot more pleasant.

So let's agree that Job One right now is to exert maximum political pressure on President Obama and Secretary Napolitano and those timid souls who we send to Congress.

They can begin to clean up this mess. Arizona can't.