It isn't easy being Arizona these days, especially when President Barack Obama puts politics before Americans' interests, a foreign head of state before the United States, and an agenda of apology before much-needed, sensible reforms.
But that's just what happened this week when Mexican President Felipe Calderon visited Washington, DC. President Obama extended a warm hand to Calderon and demagogued Arizona’s illegal immigration law all in the name of politics. Standing in the White House Rose Garden with Calderon, President Obama took the unprecedented step of publicly siding with Mexico against Arizona, saying:
We also discussed the new law in Arizona, which is a misdirected effort — a misdirected expression of frustration over our broken immigration system, and which has raised concerns in both our countries...
And I want everyone, American and Mexican, to know my administration is taking a very close look at the Arizona law. We're examining any implications, especially for civil rights. Because in the United States of America, no law-abiding person — be they an American citizen, a legal immigrant, or a visitor or tourist from Mexico — should ever be subject to suspicion simply because of what they look like."
All of this centers around Arizona's new law that directs law enforcement officers to ask about a person's legal status if reasonable suspicion exists that they're unlawfully in the country. And they're to do that in a reasonable way only during a lawful stop, detention, or arrest.
Enter the spin zone. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder took a swing at the new law, later admitting that they've neither studied nor even read it, let alone mentioned amendments that prohibit using race, color or national origin even as a factor in executing it. And yesterday, Calderon spoke to a joint session of Congress, audaciously criticized Arizona's law, and drew a standing ovation from Democratic members of Congress, Holder, Napolitano and Vice President Joe Biden.
Their attacks are in direct contradiction to the Obama Administration's own policies, which have recognized an appropriate role for state and local governments in dealing with illegal immigration. In 2009, the Obama Administration spent $60 million on grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement in 13 states, all for the purpose of dealing with border-related issues.
But that’s not all. The Obama White House encourages state and local governments to participate in the "Secure Communities" program, which promotes identifying and removing criminal aliens. Oh, and Homeland Security funds Border Enforcement Security Teams, which include state and local law enforcement. Tack on the longstanding constitutional principle that states have clear authority to act in the interests of their citizens' public safety, and one wonders on what peg the White House is hanging its highly critical hat.
But the failure to make political hay while the sun shines is a wasted opportunity in the Obama White House, especially when this issue is a perfect entree for the President to champion one of his favorite causes – granting amnesty to millions unlawfully in the United States.
There's a better incremental approach the White House and Congress can take, including: responsible border security; the enforcement of immigration and workplace laws; workable temporary worker programs; and working with Mexico to address its desperate need for security and civil society and economic reforms.
As The Heritage Foundation's James Carafano writes:
Congress should reject efforts by the White House to demonize the people of Arizona in a crass effort to further the President’s political agenda. The Congress should also insist on incremental, commonsense policies that will address the pressing need for immigration and border security reforms instead of the amnesty-first approach—which both the American people and the Congress roundly rejected the last time it was proposed in 2007.
Meanwhile, for Arizona's part, it has acted because the federal government has failed to secure America's national borders. The state now has the obligation to act responsibly in the course of implementing the law.