Ken Connor

Across the country, the debate rages on over the Obama administration's decision to file suit against the state of Arizona over its recently passed immigration legislation. The President has called the law "misguided." Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano dismissed the law as "bad law enforcement." Attorney General Eric Holder fears the law will lead to racial profiling, and countless politicians and civil rights activists have condemned the measure as a thinly-veiled smokescreen for racism.

Amidst such a cloud of inflammatory rhetoric, its easy to lose sight of the most troubling issue at play in this battle between the federal government and one of its member states – that is, the gross abuse of constitutional authority at play at the White House and Justice Department.

Imagine for a moment that you are a property owner whose neighborhood has been repeatedly victimized by acts of trespassing, theft, murder, and other forms of criminal violence. You and your neighbors have had your property vandalized, your possessions stolen, and members of your family have been threatened and in some cases physically harmed. For months, heck, for years, you and your neighbors have repeatedly contacted local law enforcement authorities to report the crimes against your property, and for years you have been told that help is on the way. But help never comes. The police say they have the matter under control; they say that the security of your person and property is their top priority, and yet they continue to do nothing in the face of the growing menace. It slowly becomes clear that you and your neighbors have been abandoned. The police aren't coming to help you, they don't have the problem under control, and by all indications there is little chance that this state of affairs is going to change anytime soon.

Suffice it to say, such a scenario would only go on so long before you and your neighbors became desperate. Overcome by frustration and growing fear and convinced of no other options, neighborhood residents decide to take matters into their own hands in order to protect themselves.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.