Ben Toledano: Opposition bordering on the ridiculous


Ben Toledano



Surely I can''t be the only person amazed by the opposition to Arizona''s Senate Bill 1070 "relating to unlawfully present aliens." However, the opposition itself is one thing; the expressed reasons for it are quite another. What is really going on here?


Have you read the statute? Well, I have, and its clearly declared intent is to assist in enforcing "federal immigration laws" in Arizona. "The provisions of this act are intended to work together [with federal immigration authorities] to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States." Specifically, nothing in the Act may limit or restrict the "enforcement of Federal Immigration Laws to less that the full extent permitted by Federal Law." In conclusion, it is declared that: "This act shall be implemented in a manner consistent with federal laws regulating immigration, protecting the civil rights of all persons and respecting the privileges and immunities of United States citizens."


For whatever reason or reasons, the federal government has not enforced its existing laws pertaining to illegal immigration. Such failure causes tremendous problems for the States bordering Mexico. The legal question, in clearest terms, is: Can the states protect their own borders from illegal immigration, particularly if the federal government defaults in its obligation to enforce its own immigration laws? To answer No to that question makes no sense at all. Can you remember the time when illegal meant against the law?



Back to what is really going on with the rabid opponents of the bill. Virtually nothing they have to say relates in any way to the question of immigration, illegal or otherwise. No matter how unreasonable and offensive it may be, they talk and write only about race, racism, and racial profiling, subjects which have nothing to do with illegal immigration. The plaintiffs in the case to block Arizona''s new law allege in part that police officers are required to use race as the basis for enforcing the law. What race is that?


The July 12 edition of Jackson''s Clarion Ledger included this quote from Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance executive director Bill Chandler who, in attacking the Arizona law, said: "They [African-Americans in the Mississippi House] have shown a lot of compassion and support for the Latino community. This is the same kind of racism that has been perpetuated against African Americans for years."


When I asked the Clarion Ledger Editorial Director what race Mexicans belong to, he told me to check the Internet. "It''s pretty plain." Guess what I found out. Mexicans are Caucasians. No kidding. So what does race have to do with Arizona''s new law? Only this. Race is used as a weapon on the Left to kill thought and discussion. It''s a way of closing the door of reason, of sponsoring feelings of guilt, and of refusing to consider the merits of a given proposal. And, at the same time Race is thrown in our faces, we are told disingenuously: "We need national comprehensive immigration reform, not just each state trying to one-up each other with punitive legislation."


The Dispatch published an article by two persons of the Left, one the head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the other the head of the National Council of La Raza, "the largest U.S. Latino civil rights and advocacy organization." And what did these fair-minded and impartial arbiters have to say? Well, basically, they believe the Major League Baseball All Star game, presently scheduled to be played in 2011 in Phoenix, should be moved to another State because the best interests of baseball "... include protecting players and millions of fans of color, not allowing MLB to be perceived as condoning blatant discrimination and injustice, and taking a stand for fairness, equality and other values that Americans and baseball hold dear."


Recently, when the President of Mexico visited the U.S., he blasted Arizona and its new statute. None of our national "leaders" made any response to his criticisms. Here was a man in whose own country nearly 3,000 people have been killed as the result of drug wars, and he was making harsh comments about law enforcement in one of our own States. No wonder so many U.S. citizens are so upset about the state of our union.


The last time I was in Mexico, we drove across the border and were immediately directed by armed soldiers to an office where we were required to answer questions, fill out forms, pay fees, and obtain travel permits. We also had to place a large decal on our car''s windshield. During our trip, we were stopped several times by armed soldiers who asked for and inspected our papers.


Were the Mexican authorities using "race as a primary factor in deciding how" to enforce their laws? Good thing the all-star game wasn''t scheduled to be played in Oaxaca.


One last point. I love Mexico, its people, its architecture, its culture and especially its art. At the same time, I love the U.S. when it upholds its status as a government of laws. The funny thing about laws is they''re only useful and worthwhile if they''re enforced. Is it really racist to be in favor of law enforcement? I hope not.


Toledano is a lawyer and writer who spends his time in Columbus and Pass Christian. His articles and reviews have appeared in National Review, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications. His e-mail address is [email protected]




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