Back in the good old days, Social Security held the title of "the third rail of politics." Anyone who dared bring it up was certain to start an argument they weren't going to win.
Now, it's immigration. Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer has signed into law a bill which, according to Reuters
Requires police to determine whether people are in the country legally and to question them if there is suspicion they're not. It also forces immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times.
The law, SB1070, makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration paperwork and forbids local cities and counties from passing laws which would, in effect, form sanctuary cities by forbidding their local police to enforce the law.
According to the Latin American Herald Tribune the Mexican government issued a statement over the weekend saying it would "all available means in supporting its citizens."
"The Presidency of the Republic reiterates its absolute commitment to the protection of the human rights and dignity of all Mexicans abroad, independent of their immigration situation," the statement said.
At first blush, most Americans would, and should, cringe at a law which brings to mind images of a 1930's German soldier demanding "papers" of civilians going about their normal business.
On the other hand, Arizona is ground zero for illegal immigration with (depending upon which report you read) between 450,000 and 650,000 illegal immigrants in that state. The 2010 census will not help define that number any more closely because illegal aliens are not likely to have filled out and sent back their census form.
Hispanics have become an important voting bloc for Democrats and, with Democrats' mid-term electoral fortunes continuing to fade, using the Arizona law as a launching pad for a major registration and turn-out effort in November makes good political sense.
To that end, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) and President Obama have apparently decided to shove aside important climate change/energy legislation which was to have been introduced today by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in favor of turning the nation's attention to what they consider to be a more politically favorable immigration debate.