Friday, May 21, 2010

Immigration Debate Rages

By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network

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There's not much consensus in this nation over the debate over illegal immigration. An interesting contradiction in approaches can be seen when comparing Arizona with Los Angeles - and Los Angeles with nearby Costa Mesa, California.

Arizona, as well all know, has passed a law requiring local cops to enforce federal immigration laws. It's been heralded by anti-illegal immigration advocates. But criticized by others - like the ACLU which has filed a suit challenging the law - on the grounds that it's discriminatory against Latinos.

Joining the ACLU in its opposition to the law is the city of Los Angeles, which has threatened an economic boycott of Arizona.

Arizona officials are contemplating tit for tat of that - threatening to cut off the flow of electricity to LA. Los Angeles gets about a quarter of its electricity from Arizona.

Now, Costa Mesa, California, has weighed in - declaring itself a so-called "rule of law city." Which means - illegal immigrants aren't welcome here.

Kind of reminds me of the old "We reserve the right to refuse service" signs you'd see in the old South. Which translated into blacks aren't welcome here.

You could, of course, argue that there's a difference. The African-Americans who were denied service were - of course - in the United States legally. But laws and declarations of this type can having a chilling effect on Latinos who are in this nation legally as well. Especially if they fear they will be harassed - or scrutinized, because of their brown skin color.

Adding fuel to the rhetorical fire over illegal immigration was Mexican President Felipe Calderón's visit to Washington. In both a White House appearance with President Obama, and during an address to Congress, Calderon blasted the Arizona law.

It was, to put it mildly, a case of diplomatic poor form.

How dare a president of another country come to this country to complain about laws here?

If he's so concerned about the treatment Mexicans receive, maybe he should get his own house in order and focus less on the United States. After all, the Mexicans who come here are fleeing economic hardship and drug wars. There would be fewer Mexicans illegally crossing the Rio Grande if his nation were more stable.

By the way, doesn't Mexico have immigration laws? Shouldn't Americans who visit his country be respectful of their laws?

Presuming the Mexican authorities enforce their immigration laws - they'd have to racially profile too, wouldn't they. I doubt that they'd ask people who look Mexican to prove they are citizens. One could argue that Mexican immigration laws create racial profiling of gringos.

One thing's for certain. Until the United States comes to a consensus over how to address the immigration issue, this debate will rage on. Only time will tell if the Arizona law results in civil rights violations of United States citizens of Latino heritage. But if it does - that's a matter for the United States government to address. Not, President Calderón, the government of Mexico.

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