Let me lead with what should be an unremarkable observation: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer did not write federal immigration laws that require permanent residents to carry green cards, employers to check documentation or limits on the number of legal immigrants admitted each year. Washington did.
But because Washington has failed to enforce those rules, Brewer signed into law a bill passed by the Arizona legislature to beef up and expand enforcement of federal immigration law.
Yet the law went too far. While a good chunk of the law penalizes employers who hire illegal immigrants -- a good thing -- the bill also allows local cops to question anyone suspected of being unlawfully in the United States and essentially bans "sanctuary city" laws in Arizona.
One might think that only those who break immigration law need fear such a measure, especially given its ban on investigations based on "race, color or national origin." But in a state whose population is 29 percent Latino, many legal Arizona residents fear that they will be questioned because of the color of their skin or speaking with an accent because they've seen it happen before.
Why alienate Latinos who are good Arizonans when local police already can notify the feds after they arrest illegal immigrants?
By the same token, supporters of the bill feel alienated, too. Their belief in enforcing duly enacted federal laws earns them the tag of "racist" -- whether they are or not.
Opponents of the new law drew swastikas on the Arizona capitol, yet somehow, pundits aren't asking whether they are inciting violence. Some critics have likened the bill to the "Your papers, please" authoritarianism of Nazi Germany. Please. If you think you shouldn't have to carry identification, don't travel abroad. And don't drive.
Then there's San Francisco's response -- calling for a boycott. City Attorney Dennis Herrera believes the Arizona law is "unconstitutional," and he may well be right. He was righteous when he told me, "We all know that racial profiling happens within the law enforcement community" -- not only for arrests, but also when questioning innocent people.
I still have to ask: Why should San Francisco support a boycott of another government? Don't city politicians have their hands full governing this place, without telling other politicians how to run their turf?
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