Mexican President Felipe Calderon got the tough new Arizona immigration law wrong when he told Congress on Thursday, "It is a law that not only ignores a reality -- but also introduces a terrible idea of racial profiling as the basis for law enforcement."
To the contrary, Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally, expressly prohibits police actions based on "race, color or national origin."
Some senators and representatives frequently applauded during Calderon's speech. What a spectacle. Senators and House members were cheering a foreign leader for bashing an Arizona law intended to bolster the federal immigration laws passed by -- who else? -- senators and House members.
Washington keeps pushing the envelope on craven. For his part, President Obama is a virtuoso at talking out of both sides of his mouth on immigration. He calls the immigration system broken, then proposes to fix the system by paving a path to citizenship for those who broke the law. He has called SB1070 misguided in order to appeal to the lathered-up pro-illegal immigration corner. Then he appeals to "misguided" voters by assuring them that he is gung-ho when it comes to enforcing the immigration laws.
The best part is, Obama never has to deliver on his campaign promise to push through an immigration bill with a path to citizenship in his first year. Or his second year. As long as pro-illegal immigration forces focus on Arizona, Obama and Washington get a free pass.
No wonder Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner happily announced at a recent press conference that the American delegation brought up the Arizona law during human rights talks with China, a nation with some of the worst human rights violations in the world, as an acknowledgment that the United States has human rights issues of its own to work on.Quoth Posner, "We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session and as a troubling trend in our society, and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these issues are very much being debated in our own society."
For his next trick, perhaps Posner can assist in the return of a North Korean escapee to the homicidal regime from which he desperately was trying to flee.
And what did Posner win for his efforts? Bingo: a new round of talks to be held in China in 2011. With any luck, this will give the administration a chance to give up for global censure Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio as a too-flamboyant advocate for tough immigration enforcement.
Meanwhile, back in the United States, the Obama administration was working overtime not to know what was in the Arizona bill. Attorney General Eric Holder declared the bill could lead to racial profiling -- before he admitted to the House Judiciary Committee on May 14 that he had "not had a chance" to read the 17-page bill. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that she would have vetoed the bill -- as she, too, had to admit she had not read it.
Thursday, Obama declared, "The United States is proud to walk with Mexico." As Posner told reporters, the administration is anxious for any opportunity to engage in a respectful and informed dialogue with Beijing. But don't expect Obamaland to try to show the same eagerness to understand the Arizona law.
If Obama were a unifying figure, he would try to end the boycott wars that threaten to pull this country further apart. If Phoenix were Beijing or Mexico City, then the White House would be working overtime on a policy to accommodate both the Arizona bill and the administration's important goal of preventing racial profiling.
But as far as this administration is concerned, Arizona might as well be an enemy nation.