By Bill Press
Tribune Media Services
Sometimes, it seems we’ve made progress as Americans. At other times, it’s clear we have not. Witness the retrograde, racist, unconstitutional anti-immigration law just adopted in Arizona.
Under the new law, police officers are required to stop anyone for whom they have a “reasonable suspicion” of being in this country illegally — and inquire as to their immigration status.
We all know what “reasonable suspicion” of being here illegally from Mexico means. Police won’t be stopping anybody white, black, or Asian. Instead, they’ll look for anybody speaking Spanish, or ordering a taco at Taco Bell. Or anybody named Gonzalez. Or, what the hell, anybody with brown skin.
Make no mistake about it: This is out-and-out racial profiling. It’s no different from the all-too-common practice of police officers pulling over young drivers on suspicion of being gang members merely because they’re black.
And it does make you wonder: What is it about Arizona? Is it the sun, or the heat, or the water? Whatever it is, Arizona’s turned into the land of fruitcakes and nuts.
First, there was Governor Evan Mecham. Remember him? He’s the idiot who in 1987 canceled the state’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, triggering a boycott that ended up costing Arizona more than 150 conventions, a Stevie Wonder concert, the Super Bowl, and billions of dollars in tourist revenue. He was later indicted, recalled, and impeached — all in the same year.
Today, there’s equally ditzy Governor Jan Brewer, who only became governor because Janet Napolitano resigned, and who will now be remembered only for signing a law requiring police to detain all brown-skinned people on the street because, presumably, anybody brown-skinned must have come across the border illegally from Mexico. And according to a new Rasmussen Reports survey, 70 percent of brain-dead Arizonans agree with her.
Arizona’s new law is so blatantly unconstitutional that even conservatives Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Florida GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio and Meghan McCain have denounced it. Among national Republicans, only Meghan’s daddy John McCain, who sold his soul long ago in a desperate bid for re-election, and his feckless running mate Sarah Palin, who can probably see Mexico from her front porch, support the Arizona law. Go figure.
As offensive as it is, Arizona’s new law does serve one purpose. It underscores the crying need for fair, sensible, comprehensive immigration reform: a new set of federal policies to protect our borders, enforce existing immigration law, and create a path to citizenship for those millions of tax-paying, hard-working immigrant families who have been here, illegally, for years. Like the kind of rules George W. Bush proposed in 2004, to his credit, but were shot down by members of his own party.
Immigration is a national problem, and immigration reform must be a national priority. Indeed, it’s all the more urgent for Congress to act now before we see more draconian state laws, even worse than Arizona’s.
Unfortunately, there’s no way for the President or Congress simply to overturn Arizona’s racist law. But, while pushing for Congress to enact real immigration reform, President Obama has also directed the Justice Department to explore all possible alternatives to block implementation of the Arizona statute. Those measures include everything from instructing INS officials not to cooperate with local law enforcement to suing Arizona for violating the equal rights protections of all Americans guaranteed by the Constitution. Others have recommended simply pulling all border patrol officers out of Arizona and re-assigning them to California or Texas. The theory being: If Arizona wants to go it alone on immigration reform, let them!
Meanwhile, all Americans can also help by sending Arizona a message — the same way Americans sent Arizona a message back in the ’80s. Boycott Arizona!
Cancel your vacation plans in Sedona. Scratch the Grand Canyon off your list. Refuse to attend Diamondback games anywhere in the country. And drop your subscription to Arizona Highways.
It’s time to teach the Grand Canyon State a lesson. We will neither tolerate nor reward racial profiling. Boycott Arizona!
© 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.