In their desperation, President Obama and senators with large Latino populations in their states (like Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.) are seeking to polarize Hispanic and Anglo sentiment over the issue of illegal immigration. In his frequent messages calling for a higher Latino and black turnout and his condemnation of the Arizona immigration law, Obama is trying to recapture over immigration the voter approval he lost over health care.
Arizona acted as it did because of a lack of federal enforcement of federal law barring undocumented immigrants. With a porous border, they felt that they were left no choice but to pass a law allowing potentially intrusive searches to ferret out illegal immigrants.
Because this law could subject American citizens of Hispanic origin to undue scrutiny and perhaps to needless trips to the police station, the Arizona law antagonizes the jump ball in the immigration debate -- Latino-American voters. If there were a real national identification card, the requirement to produce papers might be less intrusive. But, as it is, with the burden of proof on the citizen (or the illegal immigrant), the law is bound to raise tensions between Anglo cops and Latino citizens.
But being forced to support or oppose the Arizona law is a false choice. It reflects the unimaginative politics of confrontation that jeopardize race relations and elect demagogues like Barack Obama. (Obama's share of the white vote was the same as John Kerry won in 2004. He was elected only because of a 3 point increase in black turnout and a shift in Latino votes to his corner. He won because of race, and now he schemes to keep control of Congress by using the immigration issue.)
The real answer is not to round up Latinos in the streets of Phoenix and hope to catch illegals in the net. Nor is it even to pretend that we can stop determined men and women from crossing the border by more guards, more troops and better equipment. The answer is to dry up the will to cross the border in the first place by stopping employers from offering jobs to undocumented workers. If there were felony penalties -- jail time -- for hiring illegals, they would not be hired. And, if there were no jobs, there would be no illegal immigration.