Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Drama

The gardening post I promised yesterday will just have to wait.  Arizona is in the middle of it all again, and I just have to throw in my opinions.  

US Suit Jacks Up Drama 

Over Immigration Law

was the headline in Wednesday's Arizona Daily Star, my morning paper.  It took me a while to get over the grammatical/syntactical/idiomatic mess of it before anything else could take hold.  A suit.... like calling the man in charge the suitJacks Up may be used in common parlance these days, but I'm visualizing Arizona as a muscle car on 3 wheels with a jack below the fourth, damaged by drama and overseen by a Fed in a black suit and a fedora.  Rereading it after my orange juice and a glance at the weather (sunny, hot, dry) I saw where the headline writer was going.  The article wasn't about the law suit taking Arizona to task for shouldering a Federal burden.  It was about the attendant drama.

Tony West, the head of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, thinks
that (immigration and the condition of an alien's entry and presence in the United States) are federal domains and do not involve any legitimate state interest
The lawyers in my family assure me that these are legal terms, but it doesn't make sense to me that "a legitimate state interest" wouldn't include the safety and security of its citizenry.  Without effective federal intervention, what should we do to meet the needs of our residents while living with the absence of federal help?  I know, the Gulf is dying, terrorists threaten us, and the economy is going to hell in a handbasket.  But this situation isn't going away any time soon, either.  

Eric Holder is grimacing at me from above the headline.  This quote is in a black box next to his face:
Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration, and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns.  But diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country's safety.
Talk about amping up the drama.... you should have seem me ranting and raving as I read that.  Let's deconstruct it, shall we?  We are understandably frustrated.... is this Bill Clinton feeling our pain?  Or is it a doting uncle telling us that he knows we're angry, but urging us to take a few deep breaths and not get ahead of ourselves because he knows that the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns.  That is certainly reassuring - the government is responsible.  Let's see, they also were responsible for oversight of the stock market, of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, of the Minerals Management Service...... oh, good, I feel better already.

The second part gets a little trickier, because no one wants to be on record saying that there is no threat from Islamic extremists, or even from cold war throwbacks, like the Russian deep cover suburbanites who were outed last week.   But the entire country's safety is at stake here.  Border crossers don't all stay in Arizona. They get rides to North Carolina and Kansas and Wyoming where they live, under the radar, working and sending money home to their families.  Sure, there are bad guys coming over to wreak havoc, but there are also people who, if given the opportunity, would pay taxes while carrying a work permit.

We can argue the pros and cons of low cost labor, but I can't seem to construct an argument in favor of un-taxed wages.  I'm not talking about Social Security or Medicare deductions, because The Burrow Plan to Resolve the Situation excludes permit holders from taking advantage of these programs.  They're not citizens, after all.  But Workers' Compensation should be paid if one is injured on the job, and all workers should pay into the fund.  State and Federal taxes designed to cover the cost of doing business should also be paid. Just as you look for a Contractor's License before you hire a plumber, employers would look for a Permit before hiring. It's not an embarrassing question if everyone is asking it of every casual employee. 

And here is some more drama, because this is where SB1070 veers from sensibility and  strays into absurdity. Our law enforcement officers are required to verify immigration status if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person they've detained might be illegal.  However, they are not to use racial profiling.  

Stop and let that swim around in your brain for a while.  

How?  Huh?  What does that mean?  Will they be asking Swedish visitors for their visas?  Just imagine how tourist friendly that will make us seem.

Gabrielle Giffords, my Congresswoman, says it best:
Federal lawyers arguing with state lawyers will do nothing to strengthen border security or to fix our broken immigration laws.
But they're having so much fun trying.  Oh, the drama of it all.  Let's build a fence to move the problem someplace else down the road.  Let's employ drones and the Border Patrol and the troops our president has promised and pretend that that will solve the problem.  No matter how shattered our economy may seem to us, it's still abetter life than that which those walking across the desert are leaving behind.  If we could only acknowledge that and create a solution that meets their needs and ours....... well...... you may say I'm a dreamer....


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