Thursday, April 29, 2010

Are We Really All Arizonans?

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.

That’s wrong.

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.


  1. Even Arizonans (and I was one for years) know that if every state had its own foreign policy and immigration laws we could drop the "united" part of the united States. Visits by los indocumentados have been a problem since the days when José Doroteo Arango Arámbula (we know him better as Pancho Villa) used to visit.

    The issue of illegal immigration is complex First of all, it may not be quite the "problem" it's portrayed as, if one takes economic factors into account. The political powers in Arizona and, I suspect, the other border states, have long winked at the border's porousness because of the cheap seasonal labor it provided. But we can digress into that another time.

    American drug and agricultural policies (something we should fix) and corruption in Mexico (something Mexico must deal with) play a big role in fostering problems at the border. The Arizona move does take aim at perhaps the most important uncontrolled element of uncontrolled border traffic: The law provides penalties for hiring undocumented workers.

    The Arizona rules don't go into effect until later this summer, but the proscription on hiring already seems to be having an effect, according to dispatches from the Copper State. A policy that works? How amazing is that?

    Well, not so amazing, really. The only rational reason to risk your life crossing the Sonoran Desert is if there's a sufficient economic reward for doing so. No jobs? No money? No illegals. Or at least a lot fewer of them. It's actually a pretty obvious solution.

    Instead of a sensible policy with a shot at success, Congress cynically gave us that preposterous and embarrassing border wall. It provided a great campaign visual and a vigorous wedge issue without actually accomplishing anything else.

    Drag them off the stump and corner them off the record and you'll find most congressmen are not as clueless as they seem. They know defensive walls didn't protect China from the Mongols or East Berlin from West Berlin. Hadrian's Wall didn't keep the Picts out of England; The Maginot Line didn't keep the Germans out of France any more than the Siegfried Line of Hitler's vaunted "Atlantic Wall" kept the French and their allies off the beaches of Normandy. Walls - lots of them - have not kept Arab rockets out of Israel.

    So let's get a real policy. The American wall along our southern border is no different than the others. It's no more effective than throwing a big rock in the middle of a river. The river always finds its way around the rock.

  2. Well said, Mr. Knickerbocker. Very well said.

  3. there, they’ll check your immigration status for reasonable suspicion.

    Umnnhh--a minor correction. Under the law as passed, the cops must have detained you for another reason (e.g., speeding, spitting on the sidewalk, etc.) before they can develop a 'reasonable suspicion' about immigration status.

    IOW, immigration status is NOT a primary reason for stop/detain under the law.


    My great-uncle rode out of the Richards Street Armory in Milwaukee to chase Pancho Villa around in Mexico under the command of Black Jack Sherman. A whole lotta years later, my USARNG company was based in the very same armory.

  4. I agree with you, Colonel: that's the best post I've ever read of Mr. Knickerbocker's.

    The Town Crank

  5. Dad29
    Did you mean Black Jack Pershing?