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Arizona: Never Let Mexican Border Violence Go to Waste?

Point/Counterpoint: In the left corner of the ring, Ruben Navarrette is not a fan of Arizona's new immigration law: "Mexican drug violence is a headline-grabber that stirs anxiety and fear. So it’s natural that Gov. Brewer and other supporters of SB 1070 would cynically use it to further their claim."

by
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

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May 1, 2010 - 12:01 am
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White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is famous for his creed that one ought never let a crisis go to waste.

Well, Emanuel apparently has a new disciple out West: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who seems determined not to let the crisis of Mexican border violence go to waste. In fact, Gov. Brewer put it to good use just recently when she hid behind it long enough to sign SB 1070, a hypocritical and self-destructive law that is — in a legal sense — probably not long for this world.

The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act requires: “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official, where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made when practicable to determine the immigration status of the person.”

As such, the law doesn’t just allow for the possibility of racial and ethnic profiling of anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant (read: Latinos). It all but requires this sort of thing to happen. In fact, it includes a provision by which concerned citizens can sue law enforcement agencies that they believe to be non-compliant.

[Yet, curiously, in what was surely an oversight, the law contains no such provision allowing Latinos who were either born in the United States or who reside here legally to sue law enforcement agencies that profile them, in violation of federal law.]

There’s a lot that gives SB 1070 a foul odor. But what really stinks about this awful law is the cynical and dishonest way it has been marketed to frightened and vulnerable Arizonans.

Just when you thought you’d heard every possible argument — plausible and contrived — to crack down on illegal immigrants, Gov. Brewer has another one: Do it to fight drug cartels.

“Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state, to my administration and to me, as your governor and as a citizen,” Brewer said in signing in the law.  “There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels.”

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