The Wonder That is Arizona
Guest Editorial by Thomas Bostock
Americans love games with rules, which is why the great American game is baseball. There are strike zones, foul lines, and even infield fly rules. To all these, the participants are familiar and they donít expect surprises. This is why Washington politicians and everyday citizens should not be baffled by Arizonans deciding to enforce the unenforced federal laws on immigration. The mystery is why Washington is surprised and, presumably, angered by this act.
The history of immigration to the United States after the late nineteenth century is clear and unarguable. From a policy of open immigration to one of quotas, the federal government assumed the enforcement and created the policies. Whatever the reasoning behind these quotas, there was never a question about the legality and logic of this as a federal responsibility. From this, we got Ellis Island, the Statue of liberty, and Emma Lazarusí prayer like poem which was not to be taken literally but only metaphorically. We "Light the lamp beside the golden door," but only for those we select. Some would be immigrants were even refused admission.
In 1940 FDR established the principle that aliens, visitors, and unnaturalized residents in America must carry proper identification with them at all times. This idea is not a fascist outburst from the cowboys of the West but established agreement from that wheel-chaired cowboy of Hyde Park and compatible with long standing federal law, law that precedes Arizonaís sixteen page wonder by seventy years. Where then do these hyperbolic overreactions come from?
Arizonans have merely reacted to packed emergency rooms, overcrowded schools, teeming prisons, and highways that are congested with unregistered drivers and unsafe vehicles coupled with a shrinking tax base. What to do? Why not look to the rule book. This research didnít take long. The federal rules are simple and accessible. Their lack of enforcement is another question. Who would imagine that a federal government whose officials took an oath to enforce the Constitution and the law would so blithely ignore them? The laws are clear, the foul lines are apparent, but one team has left the field and extended its seventh inning stretch. Where is the umpire to whom the people of Arizona can appeal?
To say as President Obama has that Arizona is "misguided" and its "enforcers bigoted" is to manifest the very heights of irresponsibility. Someone must enforce the law. The proper enforcers have left the field. Mr. President, bring back the umpires or call the game. We donít have time for a rain delay.