woody_zimmerman_118_2007A huge uproar has erupted across the country because the state of Arizona has enacted a law which empowers state and local law-enforcement officers to inquire after the immigration status of people they encounter in the course of their normal duties. Arizona SB1070 – signed into law on April 23 by Governor Jan Brewer – specifically prohibits apprehension of persons solely because of personal characteristics, racial or other, which might suggest illegal status in the state. But questioning anyone otherwise detained by an officer, as to their residency status, is permitted and authorized by the statute.

Race-hustlers nationwide – including some in the White House itself – have denounced the law as “racist,” in the sordid tradition of Jim Crow laws that were enforced, pre-1960, in the south. The Rev. Al Sharpton and others are in full cry, and Attorney General Eric Holder denounced the law as a “bad idea.” Under reporters’ questioning, however, both Mr. Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano had to admit that they had not read the 12-page text of the Arizona law. (Really, who has time for dumb stuff like reading the text of a law you know is wrong-headed?)

Beyond federal opposition, several state governments have announced that they intend to “boycott” Arizona by cancelling or (refusing to engage in) any and all contracts with Arizona companies. Some state officials also recommended that their citizens not travel to Arizona for business or pleasure. These early reactions have gradually damped down, now that the first hysteria over the Arizona law has faded. Some states and localities have realized that “divesting” themselves of all Arizona commerce is not as easy as they had anticipated – particularly those who employ Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc., one of the country’s largest red-light camera companies. (Money trumps racial politics every time.)

The Obama White House, however, has not lessened its opposition. Indeed, Mr. Holder has announced his intention to sue Arizona over its new statute. Presumably he has read the law’s text by now. If so, he will have realized – if he didn’t know it before – that the Arizona law introduces nothing new. It merely empowers state and local law enforcement officials to enforce existing federal immigration statutes, with certain precautions included to protect legal residents and citizens from harassment on their appearance (a.k.a racial profiling). Officials may combine inquiries about immigration status only with other enforcement actions, such as traffic arrests. Federal laws include no such precautions, as Mr. Holder knows very well.

The Arizona precautions have been largely pooh-poohed by pundits and commentators, who accuse Arizona’s citizens of the basest racist motives. I have heard racialist pooh-bahs declare their fundamental incredulity that the law could ever be applied in a non-racist fashion. People living far from Arizona feel perfectly free to instruct its citizens on what they should or shouldn’t do about the problem of illegal immigration, while their state is overrun by illegals pouring across the border in great numbers.

My wife is from Arizona, so I know something about the state. It is rich in cultural and racial diversity, being heavily populated with American Indians and Mexicans, among others. For many years its people have lived together in harmony. Any incipient racism was pushed far into the background because no one was being threatened. There was plenty of space in Arizona, and relatively few people. Arizona’s population is currently estimated at 6.2 million, of which 58% are white (not Hispanic), 30% Hispanic, 5% American native, and 4% black. The state’s area is 113,654 square miles, which represents about 1/30th of the entire country. It is a big place of startling natural beauty. On my visits there, I always thought it to be one of the more peaceful and orderly places in the country.

What has upset the Arizona apple cart is a tremendous influx of illegals, who now number an estimated 283,000 – ranking only behind California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida. (See table below.) But the five leading states have large legal populations, in contrast to Arizona’s. The Arizona illegal/legal ratio of 4.6% is the second-largest behind California, which has far greater resources.

State

Est. Illegal population

Est. Legal population

Illegal/Legal

California

2,209,000

36,458,000

6.06%

Texas

1,041,000

23,508,000

4.43%

New York

489,000

19,306,000

2.53%

Illinois

432,000

12,832,000

3.37%

Florida

337,000

18,090,000

1.86%

Arizona

283,000

6,166,000

4.59%


Even with its large resources, California is dangerously near the financial tipping point. This is not due solely to illegal immigration, of course. Nevertheless, estimates of the annual costs of illegal immigration borne by California run to $10.5 billion – serious money in a state with deficits in the tens of billions. But I digress.

In Arizona, matters have taken a different turn, with armed violence – much of it due to cross-border drug-running – escalating by the day. Large numbers of shootings and killings involving illegal immigrants have occurred on both sides of the border. Overwhelmed Arizona law-enforcement officials have requested federal assistance, but Homeland Security has showed little interest. Phoenix – a large city, well north of the border – has become the kidnapping “capital” of the country. These crime-factors led directly to passage of the disputed Arizona law. In the uproar over potential “racial profiling,” the violent details of the Arizona border situation have been swept aside and forgotten. Many Americans who “know” Arizona is a hotbed of racism have no concept of the situation at the border.

With things spinning out of control, why wouldn’t the Obama administration step up federal enforcement along the Arizona-Mexico border? This would obviate the need for Arizona peace officers to take actions specified under SB1070, and would calm the entire situation down.

The answer to this leading question is Mr. Obama’s “dirty secret.” He does not want illegal immigration stopped. Existing federal immigration laws are not enforced because Mr. Obama and his party find it in their interests to keep the borders open and the flow of illegals unimpeded. Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) says that Mr. Obama told him: “…if we secure the border then [Republicans] won’t have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform.” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer subsequently denied that Mr. Obama had said any such thing – essentially calling Senator Kyle a liar. But why would the senator tell a whopper like that without realizing how it would expose him to refutation and ridicule by the White House? The only sensible conclusion is that Senator Kyl’s account is true.

If so, this means that Mr. Obama is corruptly holding border-enforcement hostage to “comprehensive immigration reform.” Democrats often use this phrase as code for a broad program of amnesty for the 12-15 million illegals already here. Without strong, reliable border-enforcement, however, the American electorate will be buried by tens of millions of new illegals, all of which will claim citizenship and voting rights. Democrats expect this vast host of new voters to be part of their new, permanent majority that will institutionalize Mr. Obama’s radical “transformation” of the country. With stakes like these, Democrats simply cannot tolerate any state actions that might mess up the plan.

The Obamanistas know that insurrections like the new border-enforcement in Arizona must be crushed. If it is allowed to continue, it could spread and become a popular cause across many states. This would wreck the Democrats’ strategy. Watch for clues to the unfolding Obama plan, including digging up dirt on Governor Jan Brewer, which I expect any day. These guys play dirty. They’ll throw in the kitchen sink. For Americans, the November elections will be about much more than health care reform and taxes. If we don’t get out and vote now, it might not matter very much whether we vote in the future.