Holder's 'In the Dark' Criticism of Immigration Law

If the law is applied as written, that simply cannot be the case. Also on May 10:

“We are considering all of our options. One possibility is filing a lawsuit,” Holder told NBC‘s Meet the Press. Possible grounds for the lawsuit would be whether the Arizona law could lead to civil rights violations, he said.

There have been widespread boycotts and more are apparently in the offing. Hollywood has gone ballistic. There have been protests in Honduras and throughout Latin America, where the new Arizona law has been widely denounced:

The South American presidents that signed the declaration included Brazil's Luiz Inacio "Lula" Da Silva; Uruguay's Jose Mujica; Ecuador's Rafael Correa; Paraguay's Fernando Lugo; Chile's Sebastian Pinera; Bolivia's Evo Morales; Venezuela's Hugo Chavez; and Argentina's Cristina Fernandez. Foreign ministers represented by Peru, Colombia, Surinam and Guyana also co-signed the declaration.

The Organization of American States has also denounced the law.

That well regarded friend of human rights, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, has demanded that it be repealed. In Oakland, California:

City Council members voted 7-0 Tuesday to boycott Arizona and Arizona-based businesses, joining a growing movement against the state after it passed a far-reaching anti-illegal immigration law. ...

"How do you know if someone is illegal?" said City Council President Jane Brunner (North Oakland). "They can't answer that question in Arizona. Is it when someone's in a coffee shop? Is it when they're walking their child to school? Is it when they're standing on the corner waiting for work?"

The Arizona law, the full text of which is linked above, deals with these matters. Ms. Brunner would be well advised to read it.

Mr. Holder was, of course, under no obligation to read the statute as originally written or as amended, nor was he under any obligation to speak publicly about it. However, for him to speak publicly and critically about the bill without having bothered to read it, and base his critique only on the basis of newspaper and television reports -- most likely by people who had not bothered to read it either -- was extraordinarily irresponsible. It was doubly so because the new Arizona law deals with problems created in a border state by the abject failure of the federal government to enforce the law, and seeks, to the extent possible, to fill the vacuum created by that failure.

Mr. Holder is not the only government official with a penchant for commenting adversely on statutes and judicial decisions without having bothered to read them. He stands out because he is the official chief attorney of the United States. Obviously, his words on legal matters have more clout than those of any other administration official, except perhaps the president, whose lead he apparently follows and who had not bothered to read the new law either. Or, if he had read it, ignored what it says and chose to engage on his own now common form of racial profiling to create political capital with it.

There may be excuses for members of the Congress to avoid reading lengthy and complex legislation before voting on it. I don't accept those excuses, but understand them because a lot of legislation is difficult to read and even more difficult to understand. The largely unread health insurance reform law is a prime example, and despite Speaker Pelosi's flippant comment that we would know what was in it after it had been passed and signed, we continue to read of unanticipated and possibly unintended consequences. The same is true of the "we gotta save the economy quick!" bailout legislation, and the same will most likely be true of the Wall Street reform legislation and climate change legislation.

If our masters can't be bothered to read even short and reasonably understandable laws such as the Arizona immigration law before commenting and helping to set the media aflame about them, and can't be bothered to read legislation before voting on it and signing it into law, perhaps they should strive for shorter and less complex legislation instead of trying to deal with all perceived problems simultaneously in massive and massively confusing legal morasses.