(Jim Clark) – Arizona Senate Bill 1070 enacts a measure that mirrors existing federal law governing illegal immigration. President Obama, who had not read the law, pronounced it “misguided”. Attorney General Holder, who had not read the law, says it will encourage “racial profiling”. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents the “sanctuary city” of San Francisco where police are forbidden to enforce immigration laws, called Senate Bill 1070 ”misguided and irresponsible.”
From deep in the operations center of the Democratic Party a message went out to Latino organizations to “demonstrate”. Our TV screens were then filled with hordes of people carrying red, white and green flags demanding that Arizona’s law be repealed. Columnist George Will points out there would be no need for Senate Bill 1070 if the federal government (to wit: Obama, Holder and Pelosi) would enforce its own laws and fulfill its responsibility to control the nation’s borders.
Long ago satirist Al Capp published a cartoon series featuring a Forest Gump-like Ozark denizen named Lil’ Abner. One of Lil’ Abner’s task was to deal with a militant Capp-invented organization called SWINE (Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything) who would protest at the drop of a dime. If Capp were alive today he would recognize every nuance of what is going on nationally. Obama, Holder and the protestors, as well as some local pundits who have weighed in, illustrate one of the evils of the First Amendment . . . there is no penalty for speaking out even if you’re uninformed, wrong or stupid.
Fortunately there is a source of fact and truth about immigration law enforcement from which we can draw intelligent conclusions instead of ignorant, knee jerk reactions. In 2007 Prince William County, Virginia (pop. about 300,000) passed a law almost identical to the new Arizona law. Like Arizona there were fears that racial profiling might ensue and, like Arizona, the Prince William law was amended to forbid racial profiling.
County board of supervisors chairman Corey Stewart calls the law a success, saying it has reduced crime and neighborhood complaints and reduced the number of immigrants using county services such as public schools. But opponents, such as Mexicanos Sin Fronteras say it caused immigrants to flee the county leaving neighborhoods dotted with vacant houses and sowing distrust of authorities with no significant reduction in crime. The uninformed allegations continue even after the law has been on the books for a while.
However we do have some objective data. The University of Virginia has chartered a study of the Prince William County ordinance and has preliminarily concluded that fears about racial profiling have not materialized. The county participates in the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement “287(g)” program in which a cadre of police officers are trained and deputized to act as ICE officers in making status checks and referring individuals for deportation. Moreover police underwent special training to insure the constitutional administration of the law.
The study confirms that a significant percentage of the Latino population left the area but it was unable to pin the cause on the immigration law because of the concurrent effect of a deteriorating economy. The index of serious crimes went down substantially but the law appears to have deepened an ethnic divide in residents’ perceptions. Moreover the percentage of Hispanics and blacks who “trust county government” went down by 15%. It was not clear why blacks felt impacted by an immigration law.
So it appears objectively that such a law is Constitutional and accomplishes its intended purpose but creates public relations problems with Latinos. Readers should not listen to all the noise emanating from the Left.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee)