Perspective and Realism on The Border and Arizona

It would be nice if at least within The Republican Party, people could get out of their waiting-to-charge 3-point stance and take a realistic perspective on all of this immigration clamor. I have a strong suspicion that both sides will be aggravated by what I say, and will fire out of their stance at me from both sides. By the way, could you at least high-five each other when I crumble to the turf? Primarily, I want to say 1) that especially given the facts as they stand, I support the sort of sensible immigration policy proposals that Norman Adams has posted here and has worked to organize in Texas. But 2) I also want to emphasize that there are incredibly big things going on in America today, and if we don’t deal with them productively, it won’t matter what we do on immigration: America will melt down. So, I really don’t care to continue to distract from these priorities. But with that said and whether there should be or not, there is a terrible grinding of fears and feelings going on about this issue, so there is a human and social accord interest.

One aggravated side, usually very abruptly and without regard for sensibilities on the other, asserts a stark enforcement-of-the-law only proposition: essentially, round the illegals up and deport them. Besides the unattractive absence of empathy for the decent majority of both illegal immigrants specifically and Hispanics generally both legal and not, that is entirely unrealistic: A) it isn’t about to happen and B) it isn’t clear to many of us how it could, in any case. I also don’t think it’s a positive prescription for America. I’m not sure if most of the people who hew to such a line don’t believe it’s unrealistic and unproductive, or they simply take some personal comfort in shouting it without further thought.

Meanwhile the other side, as many Republicans often do and particularly in light of this Arizona law, there is an adoption of the language of the left that cries bigotry and even denial of “constitutional rights.” Really? Isn’t there another issue that has seen talk of constitutional rights for non-citizens?” Oh yeah, I know! We need constitutional due process for captured enemy combatants in the war on terror!...nice company these people keep. Bigotry? What, do we need to encourage more European illegal immigrants? If bigotry is your problem, I’d just say, “Go see a minister.”

The first side likes to classify the other as “not true conservatives.” That’s dopey. I think I’ve already given my feelings that I think are more conservative than anything else I’m hearing. How to treat immigrants has nothing to do with conservatism, except that our laws should not be made a joke. But stupider than our current failure to enforce them, is the law itself. I don’t think we should arrest illegal immigrants: I think they shouldn’t BE illegal immigrants. There should be no federal assistance, and the laws we should enforce should be the same ones we enforce for everyone. To do that, we should use whatever means necessary: prosecute and deport most law-breakers and if necessary, execute violent ones.

For the critics of Arizona’s law SB 1070, I shouldn’t have to tell you that George Will is not a frothing carnivore. What he is is reasonable, and criticism of this law isn’t quite so much: Arizona law's foes are using the real immigration scare tactics. Arizona’s law mostly tracks with the text of (non-enforced) federal law, which asserts that legal immigrants should carry identification of such status. Looking at problems and the federal government’s failure to enforce its own law and with popular support, Arizona just decided that they would enforce it. Gasp! Those FIENDS! And there’s nothing about chasing, entrapping, or pulling over people who “look Hispanic. I wish conservatives wouldn’t read that crap. But the fact is, what I think is right is farther from happening than what the enforcement crowd screams. So, let’s step back and look at reality.

TexasGOPVote blogger Lauro Garza went over a detailed discussion about “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause.” Lauro is a law-enforcement officer and a conservative. To say he isn’t a conservative is silly. Linda Chavez is another longtime and reasonable conservative who came out in opposition to the law: Arizona Mythbusting. She points up that race or ethnicity can be used as one factor in establishing suspicion, a matter that was quickly repealed. Personally, I’m not terribly worried about abstruse points like Lauro’s or hers. I think it’s oversensitive to worry about any resemblance of yours to qualities of those law-enforcement is pursuing. They just usually aren’t looking for pasty white grannies. If officers are abusive, the public and or law enforcement offices should deal with them. Chavez also observes that the illegal immigrant population and influx have recently declined, which goes to my first point about our bigger problems: Obama has lessened immigration by giving barbiturates to the economy after a bout of flu. And she says that crime rate has been decreasing, even back to when illegal immigration was greater. Crime and immigration should be separate matters.

I understand Arizona’s frustration with federal indifference to the law. But at the same time, I don’t see what productive use this law serves for them, even while decent people like Lauro and Linda Chavez are distressed, and Republican standing with Hispanics is sullied unnecessarily. Relative to intentions vs. reality, let me inject some personal experience. Like many conservatives, I’m weary after decades of racial politicking and accusations. I’ve been conservative all my life and know a whole lot of others, and I haven’t seen racism. When I was young, I saw a separateness of blacks, but not a hatred: resentment of racialist policy, but not simple disdain for ethnicity. There’s really only one human race, anyway: that’s why all humans can reproduce with each other. Racism is not just politically incorrect: it’s immoral and ungodly. But, let me relate a few personal stories.

As a young man, I played softball with a black young man who had married an old family friend and had been our friend for awhile. In one game, the umpire was a black woman. As normally, when we objected to a few of her calls, we were jeering and criticizing. Suddenly, there was someone in my face: “Yeah Larry, we know what the real problem is, don’t we?!” It was my friend. I said something like, “What the?...Oh, man, you’re kidding me!” In college, I used to go down and jabber with a couple of black friends on the hall of my dorm, and we’d sometimes go out for dinner. One night, we somehow stumbled on the subject and they insisted, “C’mon, Larry! Everybody’s prejudiced. Admit it!” “What are you talking about? What have we been doing all of this time?” That’s reality. This is not pure reason. These are intuitions that have been built over a lifetime.

And, it isn’t just blacks and it isn’t just America. Some years ago, some family members got involved with a largely Filipino church. Obviously they shared Christianity in common. But, the Filipinos definitely sensed discrimination in their daily lives. Ethnic suspicion and discomforts are the story of human beings all over the world throughout history, in most every culture. And there are clear realities to exacerbate them. Over a decade ago, a political friend told me of a group he got involved with in another state. At one meeting, when the conversation strayed into talk of European-American culture preservation, he realized, “Uh oh. I think I’m in the wrong place.” And years ago, a black minister at a church I was visiting was at my house. He was conservative, and I asked him when was the last time he experienced racial discrimination. And he said, “Well today, I was walking in a parking lot, and someone shouted out their car window, “Hey nigger, get out of the way!” Great. Some idiot deals a blow to my argument that racism isn’t a big problem in America today. Yes, just because in my sheltered life I don’t see a problem, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go out of my way to avoid treading on others’ sensibilities.


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