The Palin/Biden Prize will be given periodically to editorialists, columnists, commentators, and bloggers who produce articles which are especially factually or intellectually challenged; lack coherence; reflect an obvious ideological purpose; upon sober reflection by the author, are likely to cause a queasy feeling of embarrassment and the desire for retraction; or are just plain dumb.
This week’s prize goes to syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette for his April 19, 2010 column about the state of Arizona's response to illegal immigration. Navarrette starts by reminiscing about his early days in Arizona when the people of Arizona were actually nice. My how things have changed in the last 20 years. Back then people were listening to Milli Vanilli and gas was a buck and a quarter a gallon. That's all gone but what's worse is that the nice people of Arizona aren't nice anymore. "Nativists are becoming mainstream." he laments. Well maybe, but change hasn't come to Arizona all at once and Navarette can't seem to figure out why. Maybe the first indications that the "old days" were gone was when Cinco de Mayo celebrations started became bigger events than the Fourth of July; or when Arizonans called their kids school to talk to their teacher and were told to "press one for English."
Navarrette qualifies for this prize by, among other things, focusing on the plight of illegal immigrants and leaving out the entire context of the Arizona situation. Let's fill in the blanks.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, . . . funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the number of illegal immigrants in Arizona has more than quadrupled since 1996 -- from 115,000 then to about 500,000 now. By comparison, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States roughly doubled, jumping from about 5 million in 1996 to about 11 million today. According to Stateline.org. "Tensions have built for years over the influx of undocumented workers to this desert state, now the busiest illegal gateway on the Mexican border.” Federal border officials arrested nearly 50,000 people trying to enter the state between last October and July."
In August, Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) , now the Obama Administration's Secretary of Homeland Security, declared a state of emergency.
However, the immediate cause of Navarrette's angst is the passage of legislation in Arizona that reacts to these events and the social and legal consequences which have followed.
Last November the state adopted a ballot initiative, Proposition 200, that barred social services to illegal immigrants. "The measure, which passed with 55.6 percent of the vote, . . . also makes it a crime for public employees to fail to report undocumented immigrants seeking benefits, and requires proof of citizenship to register to vote." (Stateline.org). But the "changed" and no longer "nice" Arizonans weren't finished. Another Arizona law "recently passed and just signed by the governor requires all state law enforcement officers to; "when there is a reasonable suspicion, require individuals to identify their immigration status and to arrest illegals. It also makes it illegal to transport illegal aliens and to hire day laborers off the street. It would make not having immigration documents a new state misdemeanor."
Of course the temptation to make resistance to illegal immigration a racial issue is too much to resist by open border advocates like Navarrette who concludes; "That means if you are brown-skinned and leave home without a wallet, you are in trouble." He ignores the fact that of the legal requirement that law officers must have a "reasonable suspicion" that someone is an illegal imigrant. But common sense also intervenes. Since there are half a million illegal immigrants and several million citizens of Hispanic descent in Arizona, it is ridiculous to claim that simply having "brown skin" and being on the streets of Arizona means that "you are in trouble."
The passage of these bills was bi-partisan and reflected even the support of many Hispanic residents. Prop 200 exit polls showed that 47 percent of Hispanics who voted supported the measure. But Navarrette deliberately avoids these facts and besides playing the "race card", falls back on the demagoguery of party politics by identifying the "nativists" responsible for the anti-illegal immigrant sentiment: "GOP legislators are making Hispanics anxious with race-baiting measures to end affirmative action." " It will also lead to racial profiling. The bill was the result of pandering to racists ".
Navarrette's solution to the influx of illegal immigrants is a laugher; no strenuous border enforcement; no clamping down on large commercial employers who encourage the portion of immigrants who are not engaged in criminal activities. It's a class problem and the citizens of Arizona are at fault.
"If the legislators who voted for this law were serious about trying to curb illegal immigration , they would cut off the job magnet. Instead of focusing on companies they should start locking up soccer moms for hiring undocumented house keepers or Paradise Valley lawyers for outsourcing their yard work".
OK soccer moms, get out your vacuum cleaners; and you rich lawyers, turn in your golf clubs and buy a lawnmower. The end to illegal immigration is in your hands.
Of course, Navarrette, like most of the liberal immigration advocates, bases his position on the much repeated assertion that the "undocumented" immigrants are just poor, hardworking, honest individuals who want to make a better life for their families, and thus should be excused from the inconvenience of legal processing for entry into the U.S.
This characterization is partially, if not mostly, true, but it is the enormous volume of these “hard workers” and the large numbers of immigrants who do not fit this benign description that demand a solution, which the federal government lacks the will to provide.
"Jim Dickson, who runs a hospital five miles from the Mexican border, says emergency room care for illegal immigrants has risen from $30,000 to more than $350,000 in only four years. "We're in a war down here to preserve the health system," Dickson told Stateline.org.
Law enforcement officials and lawmakers also contend that crime follows illegal immigrants across the border. The state prison system spent $77 million last year detaining more than 4,000 illegal immigrants for crimes committed in Arizona. Violence along the border has increased dramatically. The recent murder of rancher Robert Krentz has highlighted the problem and focused the anger of proponents of legislative remedies. How Navarrette could ignore this crime is hard to understand.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) says that in 2009, federal officials seized 1.2 million pounds of a certain leafy substance brought across the Arizona border by “hard working” Mexican “pharmaceutical representatives“. He also points out that 17% of illegal immigrants arrested at the border already have criminal records in the U.S. He supports the legislation and has called for the use of National Guard troops to patrol the border.
Congratulations Mr. Navarrette on your well deserved award.