Nazi Arizona?

Nazi Arizona? Well, not quite. The new immigration statute in the state is however, over the top, ill-considered, and ill-conceived. When Governor Brewer signed the measure into law, she opened up Arizona law enforcement agencies to enormous public pressures and liabilities. This is a measure, after all, that is supposed to “fix” illegal immigration in the state. The law, in short, is a travesty.

So what is wrong with this state? To be blunt, nothing that isn’t wrong with the rest of our nation at the moment. We have, collectively, taken leave of our senses. As a nation we have become all to comfortable giving up our hard-earned civil liberties; all we need is the Serpent in the Garden to tell us who the problem is and how to catch them. Currently, we also lack an objective media able to show us the fools we are becoming. In the last decade, some members of the media briefly (and quietly) suggested that the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act were serious violations of the 4th Amendment. The suggestion (for the point of historical context) was that elements of these two acts were reminiscent in tone and scope to the laws passed by the German parliament in the 1930’s.

Those journalists who made that connection were roundly and repeatedly excoriated for their “divisive and groundless commentary”. Today we have Glenn Beck lecturing on his chalkboard about the Nazi/Socialist agenda of President Obama. While Mr. Beck is roundly criticized, he continues to enjoy both platform and credibility within his audience. But while Beck points his chalk at Obama and screams about freedom (in the context of a 2.5% non-criminal tax penalty for not having health insurance for at least 9 months of the year), the 9/11 response laws and the Arizona immigration law are defended. The flamboyant Fox News host was irate at the notion that the new measure was similar to anything in Hitler’s Germany, but the comparison is more than fair. If you like war movies folks, think about your favorite creepy Nazi character saying, “Where are your papers?”

Look we aren’t talking here about racism….yes, I know that bigots are part of the crowd screaming about illegal immigration. But this space has previously discussed the issues on this topic, and there are more than enough to get to without worrying about ethnic prejudgements. We are discussing a terribly-conceived measure that WILL violate the civil rights of American citizens. Period! Just as in the Patriot Act and Military Commissions, it is the responsibility of Americans to match an obstacle or opportunity with a Constitutional fix. The Tea Party drove 19 states to partake in a lawsuit against the Federal Government in regards to a nearly unenforceable tax penalty that would apply to less than 5% of the population…but it is okie-dokie to mandate that a peace officer pull someone over and take them to jail if they don’t have their birth certificate with them?

“Papers please”. At least 30% of Arizona’s legal citizens are of Hispanic origin; many have roots that go back to a time when Arizona was the property of Mexico. If you are a police officer, how do you decide if someone may be an illegal? What does an illegal look like? Do they work in Mexican restaurants? Are they maids? Are they lawyers? A California state representative suggested earlier that the clothes might be a determining factor. What clothes? Dirty clothes? Shabby clothes? I know there is a double standard, friends, when we laugh at Jeff Foxworthy after he says “…you might be a redneck. But they don’t check redneck’s papers for proof of citizenship either.

We all profile and prejudge…it is called instinct, and it simply involves our assumptions based on previous experience. It is human nature. The Founding Fathers understood the principle well enough to design a provision specifically to counterbalance human nature; it is called the 4th Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This provision has taken a beating lately. The 9/11 laws were explained to me as o.k. because they can’t eavesdrop, intercept mail, enter your premise, take your D.N.A., or arrest you without a warrant unless you are a terrorist. How do they know you are a terrorist? How do they know you are illegal? Before Arizona, Patriot, and Commissions, law enforcement had to have something, some solid reason that would justify the intrusion. A judge could issue a warrant pursuant to the 4th Amendment if the officers had shown probable cause, or in the case of obvious and immediate cause, they could arrest on sight and demonstrate after the fact.  No longer…these laws give/require, individual officers to be both law and order.

Steps need to be taken to slow the rate of immigration into the nation to a level that the economy can absorb. Steps need to be taken to slow down or eliminate the cultural loss among current citizens and new arrivals. Steps need to be taken to improve communication between cultures and end the constant bickering. As a native born, English speaking American, I feel good about mandating that English be learned and taxes be paid. Others may want more, some will settle for less.

The Rational Middle is listening…