Arizona has decided that if the federal government will not live up to its responsibility to control the border, it will. Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed a bill that allows police officers to inquire about a person's immigration status if there is reason to suspect that individual might be an illegal immigrant. The governor correctly noted that the new law "represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix."
The latest example of that failure is the Obama administration's refusal to finish the border fence begun with some reluctance by the Bush administration.
Critics of the new law, who plan a court challenge, ask how police officers will "know" by observation whether someone might be in the country illegally. Police officers regularly make judgment calls about suspicious behavior, whether it involves erratic driving, passing small packets on the street in drug-infested neighborhoods, or searching cars for drugs and alcohol. "Immigrant groups" are upset that in Arizona people might actually be forced to comply with the law or face deportation.
Let's get something straight. The failure to protect America's southern border has been a bipartisan effort. Democrats want more illegal immigrants in the country because they are a potential source of votes they hope will contribute to a permanent Democratic majority. Republicans and their donors want more illegal immigrants in America because they are a source of cheap labor. Once you understand this, you can ignore much of the talk about "human rights."
If a state, or nation, has laws it will not enforce for political reasons, it mocks both the law and politics, to say nothing of the cultural order. If the language of laws has no meaning other than what lawmakers assign to them after a law is enacted, it is proof that we have arrived in a kind of legal "Wonderland" in which Alice is told by Humpty Dumpty, "When I use a word ... it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less." To which Alice responds, "The question is ... whether you can make words mean so many different things." Politicians constantly try.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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