by E. J. Montini – Apr. 15, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Mom and dad (the federal government) left the kids (Arizona legislators) alone in the House (and Senate) and the children have run wild. And it’s beginning to look like the parents are NEVER coming back.
That’s how I described things to Chris Newman, legal director of the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network, after the Arizona House approved an immigration bill that would ratchet up law enforcement, legal penalties and emotions to a level unseen anywhere in the United States.
Newman had released a statement saying: “Arizona is on the verge of enacting the most anti-immigrant legislation the country has seen in a generation. We are hopeful Governor Brewer will consult with her legal counsel, issue a veto, and spare Arizona the expense of defending an unconstitutional, unwise, and odious bill in federal courts. Arizona has long been a laboratory for anti-immigrant experimentation, and its demagogue leaders have become folk heroes for White supremacists throughout the United States, but this bill ushers in a new chapter of disgrace for the state that resisted celebrating the life of Martin Luther King.”
He told me that if the Arizona law is enacted it would generate “multiple” federal lawsuits (just what a cash-strapped state needs).
But Newman also believes – or perhaps only wishes in a really, really, really big way – that what is happening in Arizona might finally cause the federal government to act.
“There is nothing like it (the Arizona legislation) in the rest of the country,” he said. “This bill makes the 2005 House Republican bill that people marched against by the millions seem like amnesty. The country considered a policy of immigration enforcement through attrition in 2005, and millions of people rejected that view. I really do think that one hopeful effect of this is that a coalition of civil-rights groups will coalesce in opposition to this policy.”
Newman called the law a “cry for federal reform.” If so, it’s a cry being drowned out by the shouts of residents.
The simple fact that I contacted Newman to ask his opinion of the legislation, and then wrote a blog about his comments for azcentral.com, touched off an explosion of angry responses.
And while it’s easy to be bold and plainspoken when you remain anonymous, the feelings expressed are real and widespread.
Or as a reader calling himself “Xp1″ wrote, “It’s time to kick all of the illegals out once and for all. I’m sick of hearing ‘It’s unconstitutional.’ These people have NO RIGHTS. They are here illegally. What do people not understand about that? . . . And Montini let me know when you want to leave the state. I’ll hold the door open for you.”
A few readers, like “PhxWhtMale” tried to take a practical approach, saying, “Whether you agree with the law or not, you have to ask yourself how it can be enforced. We can barely afford to enforce the laws we already have, (actually we probably only enforce half of them). Do we have room in the jails and courts, not to mention the police time to enforce this? They better tack a tax increase onto it if they want it to do anything.”
That’s the beginning of a grown-up conversation. One that we should have. But there are no grown-ups in the room. A legislator I spoke with Wednesday was lamenting the small group of politicians who seem to control the Capitol and care little about building consensus. And how the opposition is running scared.
“It’s like (the novel) ‘1984′ down here,” he said.
That’s the wrong book. There are adults in George Orwell’s classic.
I’d go with ‘”Lord of the Flies.”
Reach Montini at 602-444-8978 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: AZ Republic