Arizona’s draconian new law regarding illegal immigration has drawn harsh criticism from many on the left, including President Obama. Most egregious is a provision that requires local law enforcement to check documentation of those they suspect might be in this country illegally, and to detain those who cannot produce such documentation.
In other words, if you look, sound or act as though you might be of Hispanic origin, you risk being accosted by law enforcement officers every time you venture into public. It’s a vast expansion of government power, yet most of those on the right who have claimed to be outraged by imaginary assaults on liberty by the Obama administration have been silent about this very real intrusion.
Instead, we get nonsense such as this tweet from Erick Erickson of CNN and Red State.com, who asks: “If Canadians were crossing illegally N2 Arizona, no one would be playing the race card. Can AZ not respond just b/c of the illegals’ race?”
Given the porous U.S.-Canadian border, I’m sure that there are a good number of Canadians in Arizona without proper papers, especially in the wintertime. And I very much doubt that they will be accosted by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Phoenix on the street and tossed into the county jail. So yes, race indeed plays a very large role, and it’s ludicrous to pretend otherwise.
However, there are exceptions to the right’s silence, and they should be noted. Former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough, conservative host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, condemns the provision in no uncertain words:
“It does offend me that when one out of every three citizens in the state of Arizona are Hispanics, and you have now put a target on the back of one of three citizens who, if they’re walking their dog around a neighborhood, if they’re walking their child to school, and they’re an American citizen or a legal, legal immigrant, can now put a target on their back and make them think every time they walk out of their door, they may have to prove something. I will tell you that is unAmerican. It is unacceptable, and it’s unAmerican.”
Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants and a conservative Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Florida, has expressed similar concerns:
“States certainly have the right to enact policies to protect their citizens, but Arizona’s policy shows the difficulty and limitations of states trying to act piecemeal to solve what is a serious federal problem. From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation. While I don’t believe Arizona’s policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with ‘reasonable suspicion,’ are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens. Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile.”
We need a rational approach to immigration policy in this country, although many of us would disagree on what might constitute such a policy. However, a law that presumes that a third of the residents of Arizona are here illegally unless and until they can prove otherwise — surely we can agree that is excessive and, as Scarborough calls it, unAmerican.