Upon the launching of my web site in the early months of 2000, a 3,000-word screed from a concerned Arizona law officer was posted on its now defunct Sound-Off page. It emphatically stated that if in the following decade the United States government didn’t do something about the state’s “sieve border security;” there would be “terrible bloodshed” and “dire consequences.”
Fast forward those ten years, and Arizona now has a Wild West showdown of murderous proportions, whose death toll rivals the slaughterhouses of Iraq and Afghanistan.
A grievous dereliction in the federal government’s duty to provide for the common defense and preserve U.S. sovereignty, long derided in this space, has reached such a pressure point in Arizona that its local government thought it necessary to enact what amounts to an abject mockery of constitutional law.
SB1070, rubber stamped by Governor Jan Brewer, is nothing more than a hand-cupping, throat-shredding scream for help.
Though many people will disagree, I believe Senate Bill 1070 is what’s best for Arizona.
—Governor Jan Brewer upon signing into law Senate Bill 1070 on April 30, 2010
Mission accomplished. For the bellow has been heard loud and clear.
Worded very much as the last vestige of survival, stemming from a Mexican drug lord war spill-over which has resulted in a plethora of random beatings, stabbings and collateral violence against Arizona’s citizens, the 1070 Law could not have hoped to survive a national outcry of racial profiling and unconstitutional tyranny, but more importantly the bevy of ensuing lawsuits and a predictable Washington intervention.
Fact is Brewer and the Arizona Senate ran out of legal and sane options. Because no one in an ostensibly free society could accept Law 1070 as a sane or legal option; in fact, the thing is so completely irresponsible, it even leaves the police at risk.
The law lists a Context of Arrests; in other words, the fashion in which the Arizona police are to enforce it: Routine policing (bar brawl, speed trap), Routine suspicion (no hunches), and Not relying solely on race.
How then, you may rightly ask, is anyone going to effectively round up illegal aliens, of which by the way there are—according to the Office of Homeland Security (your tax dollars at waste)—460,000 in Arizona today, without racially profiling, working on hunches, or going beyond “routine policing”?
The answer is they can not. Thus, the 1070 Law is set up to fail, or at the very least, set up to cause illegal search and seizures, police-state abuses, and those rough-and-ready lawsuits. Truth is the damn thing is an atavistic draconian national embarrassment.
And yet this brilliantly directed showpiece by Arizona lawmakers, fronted dramatically by their governor, has now fully engaged the federal government and our president, who correctly pointed out in numerous speeches hence the law’s ridiculous constitutional liability and hardly a concrete answer to what now amounts to a new and improved concern for Immigration Reform.
Once again: Mission accomplished.
The mere fact that the president is on this subject, faced with massive oil spills, a Tennessee flood disaster, a Times Square terrorist plot, and the endless financial reform histrionics, is a bell-ringing success for crazy bill gone even crazier law.
Make no mistake about it; because of Arizona’s desperate and wholly reckless legal hissy fit, the nation’s eyes are now squarely focused on what has been an escalating problem for states bordering Mexico. It is no longer merely an argument about fining businesses who employ illegal aliens, their free health care or running under the radar of national security and other tertiary criminal activities. Now it’s lunatic drug dealers and gun runners blasting away at suburbanites; mothers and children being hacked to bits on street corners and the elderly bludgeoned by thugs who waltzed unhindered across our border.
This is why 70 percent of Arizonans back the law, just as you would too, if you were frightened for your life. Intellectually, there is a reason to raise eyebrows, as I surely did in the months following 9/11, as Air Force fighter planes whizzed the East River or tanks remained parked outside the Lincoln Tunnel. Overkill? Police state? Or a reasonable response to a horrible breech of national security?
There is little arguing the law’s ratification as anything other than unconstitutional chicanery or the wild plea for federal assistance long overdue, but it does come with some precedence.
Since 1940, federal law has dictated that aliens must carry papers, such as U.S. citizens keeping passports at the ready in foreign countries, including all of Europe. Moreover, since 1976, the Supreme Court has recognized that states may enact laws to discourage illegal immigration without being pre-empted by federal law. As long as Congress hasn’t expressly forbidden the state law in question, the statute doesn’t conflict with federal law and Congress has not displaced all state laws from the field, it is permitted. This is why Arizona’s 2007 law making it illegal to knowingly employ unauthorized aliens was sustained by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Basically, it seems, Arizona can do whatever the hell it wants, save Martial Law, which is pretty much next.
Ah, that is until the vagaries of carrying out the law—the whole reason we have laws is the penalty levied if said laws are broken—then a great deal of problems arise. And the backlash is going to be expensive in an economic downturn.
Therefore, without further ado, I give you, with the teeth of a rabid dog, the federal government’s time to face the music. Suddenly, amidst the wrangling over Health Care Reform and Financial Reform, bailouts and stimulus packages, here comes a state begging Big Government to do its job or else.
This will be an issue come November when the Live Free Or Die set and their candidates of choice weigh in on its aftermath, from civil libertarians to xenophobes.
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus, and Midnight For Cinderella.