07/14/2010 01:37 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Arizona's Axis of Hysteria

Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce have teamed up to create a parasitic fund-raising web site,

This is a cynical attempt to boost their political careers and enrich their Republican cronies by whipping up still more division and fear-mongering in Arizona.

I dub their latest bid for money and power as the Arpaio/Pearce Axis of Hysteria.

Arpaio shamelessly bills himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff." He's also currently under federal grand jury investigation for abuse of power.

Pearce, who introduced the infamous Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which would make the state safe for racial profiling, was once a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy. Today, when he isn't plotting to make life miserable for brown-skinned people, Pearce pals around with avowed neo-Nazis.

With Arizona families suffering through one of the worst economic declines in generations, the Arpaio/Pearce Axis of Hysteria responds not by rallying Americans to help others in need, but by fomenting more resentment and pursuing a policy that will only exacerbate the Great Recession.

How did we get SB1070? Sen. John McCain and other congressional leaders failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. McCain, a big proponent of that federal bill, instead wound up forsaking a golden opportunity so he could salvage his Republican bid for the presidency.

Arizona's far-right legislature and governor responded with SB1070. Ignoring basic economics, Arizona leaders have adopted a policy that could drive out hundreds of thousands of workers, who would leave behind tens of thousands of vacant homes and apartments at a time the state is facing a $2 billion to $3 billion budget deficit and a collapsed real estate market.

Neither member of the Axis of Hysteria will be satisfied until they've installed a Republican police state that will round up millions of undocumented migrants across the country and expel them. This policy would split up long-established families and it would cost billions of dollars -- money we clearly don't have. It would be cruel and economically counterproductive. It would also evoke memories of the shameful internment camps of World War II.

Carried to its logical conclusion, SB1070 will set the state back decades economically and culturally.

Even before SB1070 takes effect on July 29, the anti-migrant campaign is already hampering Arizona's reeling economy. Families are packing up and moving elsewhere, taking with them desperately needed consumer dollars and taxes for Arizona's echoing coffers.

Meanwhile, National Merit Scholars are turning down scholarships to attend the state's universities. The odious policy is driving off the best and the brightest.

The law is damaging to the state now, and in the future. But the Arpaio/Pearce Axis of Hysteria only cares about furthering their hate-based agenda to garner votes and -- with their callow web site -- rake in cash.

Undocumented migrants did not create this economic meltdown. It was primarily caused by financial predators who were loosed on the nation by a corrupt and incompetent Congress. Our Congress, with McCain leading the way, essentially empowered Wall Street's financial coup against our government, with working families bearing the brunt.

The media are eager to note that most Arizonans favor SB 1070, as though that somehow justifies an injustice and economic suicide. Remember that it wasn't all that long ago that Arizona had segregated schools, and most Arizonans supported that as well.

Thankfully, times have changed. But the Arpaio/Pearce Axis of Hysteria is intent on forcing us back to the days of Jim Crow. Or should we call it Jaime Crow?

As your U.S. senator, I will work to craft legislation that allows foreigners to obtain work visas based on the market for such employees here. Undocumented people who were in this country by a certain date and have committed no other criminal offenses should have the opportunity to apply for residency, pay a fine, pay back taxes and learn English. Employers must also provide benefits to all workers, reducing the health care burden of undocumented workers who are currently forced into Arizona emergency rooms.

Such reform would dissolve the black market for workers and raise wages for all. It would also free up our Border Patrol and other law enforcers to pursue the real criminals, drug and human smugglers.

We obviously need secure borders -- and contrary to the hysteria, the facts show our border is more secure than ever. But we should also have a sane and civilized method for non-citizens to enter and exit the United States. We have to approach both issues - border control and illegal immigration - at the same time.

If so-called leaders like Arpaio, Pearce, McCain and Sen. Jon Kyl get their way, the nation will waste time and resources trying achieve an impossible goal: completely sealing our long southern border. If that's the prerequisite for adopting a reasonable immigration policy, the issue will never be resolved.

We can resolve this problem with a reasoned, rational approach, but not unless we push back mightily against the GOP stalling tactics - and the Arpaio/Pearce Axis of Hysteria.