Reaction to the new immigration law in Arizona was quick, predictable, and superficial. The left wailed about profiling; Saturday Night Live did a cheap-shot skit portraying Arizona cops as Nazis; and the blogosphere boiled with anger.
But in southern Arizona, most folks welcomed the new law.
Actually, it’s only one step farther than what law enforcement in Dane County does: here, they’ll check your immigration status if you’ve been arrested and wind up in the cooler; there, they’ll check your immigration status for reasonable suspicion.
And that’s what a lot of folks call profiling.
It’s not likely a lot of Irish or Polish or Italians will have their papers checked.
Back in the reign of Mayor Swoozie, I owned a home on Sequoia Trail in Burr Oaks. Several blocks away, along the Park Street corridor, there was serious trouble with open-air drug sales, prostitution, and all manner of troublesome behavior. Boss Bruer, the alder, wanted a loitering ordinance so the cops could more effectively clean things up. The neighborhood supported it, and I mean both white folks and people of color.
But the downtown and west side crowd cried “profiling” – so the ordinance never really happened.
Funny how that changed a couple years ago when the downtown condo crowd started getting roused from their heedless slumber at bar time by noisy drunks.
My point is this: defending the borders is a federal obligation, and decade after decade, the feds have sat on their hands. Now, the people of Arizona are fed up with it, and essentially said it was well past time for something to be done.
What they did is probably the wrong thing. But many people believe it was better than doing nothing, and it may actually prod the feds into upholding their responsibility.
Neither the proposed Madison ordinance years ago nor the new Arizona law solve the problem. They’re reflections of people who are fed up with crime. Many figures are bandied about, but most say 400 thousand foreign nationals are in Arizona unlawfully.
It is a federal obligation to clean up our immigration policy, to patrol and defend our borders, and to make sure we know who’s coming into our nation. We can and should welcome people of all nations to our country. And, if they like it here, we should invite them to be citizens of our nation.
But we need to know who they are.
Just like in 1844, when the Morrisseys came here, from Ireland.