Yesterday, I was cabbing up Park Avenue in New York. Somewhere just north of Grand Central, I noticed a crowd of people with placards milling about on the sidewalk. The word “Racism” figured prominently on the signs and I caught a snatch or two of oratory: “The message is,” said this urban Demosthenes, “if you’re an illegal alien, you’re not welcome.”
Was this an ’enry ’iggins moment? Was the crowd going to ejaculate: “By George, I think he’s got it”?
Not a chance. I was by now motoring past this cheery scene of citizens (but were they citizens?) exercising their constitutionally protected right to make a public nuisance of themselves. But it was clear that the assembled multitude shared the speaker’s indignation at the fact that if you were in this country illegally you were not welcome.
You and I, untrained in the higher hermeneutics of politically correct grievance mongering, might think that because someone was in the country illegally, therefore he would by definition be “unwelcome.” Q., that is to say, E.D. The bit about being illegal veritably entails the bit about being unwelcome.
Or so I would have thought. But that simplistic line of argumentation is apparently not to the taste of the many righteous souls, including Attorney General Eric Holder, who have seized upon Arizona’s decision to protect its long border with Mexico and enforce the immigration laws.
Most of us, I submit, would regard Arizona’s new law — a law, by the way, whose chief burden is to affirm that henceforth it will enforce the laws that already apply to immigration — most of us, I say, would regard that law as a salutary exercise in that most uncommon virtue, common sense. Our reasons for concluding this might be framed thus:
1. The United States is a sovereign country whose duty to its citizens includes protecting the country’s borders and ascertaining that its extraordinarily generous immigration policy is not abused.
2. There has been massive illegal immigration from Mexico that has sorely tested the social fabric of the Southwest, threatening to turn large parts of the region into what Victor Davis Hanson has called “Mexifornia.”
3. Individual states, especially those bordering Mexico (though let’s not forget Rhode Island!), have a duty to enforce the immigration laws and discourage illegal immigration.
Example: You are an Arizona police officer. You see a van sail through a red light. You stop the van. The van is occupied by six individuals. You ask the driver for his license and registration. “No entiendo.” Are you racist if you investigate further?
I say no. Why? To put the discussion in perspective, let me share with you a communication a friend sent me yesterday.