John Leo
One of the bloggers suggests that 2006 may be the year of the Lou Dobbs voter. The blogger, the Influence Peddler, is no fan. He considers Dobbs a demagogue, but he wonders whether voters are ready for a Dobbsian program of opposing illegal immigration, "throwing the bums out of Washington" and staying wary of international trade.

On immigration, this suggestion may reflect a shift in public opinion after the May 1 marches, away from the belief that the pro-illegals lobby had decisively altered public opinion, toward the realization that the marches may have created a powerful backlash.

Citing Arizona's new anti-smuggling law, the sheriff of Maricopa County (Phoenix) announced that a posse of a hundred deputies and volunteers would begin patrolling the desert. This appears to be an act of official frustration, not one of those cosmetic attempts to placate the right. The Minutemen, denounced as vigilantes by President Bush but greatly respected in the state, are now building a fence on private land along the Mexican border. They are going national too, with chapters popping up in Virginia and elsewhere.

The frustration level in Arizona is so high that a local prosecutor, Andrew Thomas of Maricopa County, organized a national immigration conference and gave a fiery speech on the chaos, crime and cost of the tide of illegals. Last spring, I managed to get lost in one of the rugged canyons of southeast Arizona, and stumbled on two camping areas for illegals, each with about as much debris as you might expect from an airliner crash.

Mercedes Maharis, who lives near that canyon, has just released a documentary on DVD, "Cochise County, USA: Cries From the Border." The eeriest footage is infrared photography of illegals, maybe a hundred or more, swarming across the border at night. The turning point for one woman came when she set up a tepee in her back yard and noticed one morning that a group of illegals was living in it. The withering remarks in the film are not aimed at the illegals, but at Washington for abandoning its constitutional duty to guard the border.

The national news media, which spent most of its energies covering the marches as a heartwarming civil rights effort, is belatedly recognizing that much of America doesn't see it that way. As the Los Angeles Times reports, "Activists who take the toughest stance against illegal immigration have formed too many groups to count, and more seem to crop up every week."

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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