Hillary: Immigration Enforcement Would Criminalize Jesus

Senator Hillary Clinton finally weighed in on the immigration debate yesterday by scolding the Republicans for focusing on border enforcement rather than an amnesty program. She told an audience of immigrant leaders in New York that Republicans would have criminalized the Good Samaritan and probably Jesus as well:

Accusing Republicans of betraying family values, Senator Clinton said a House immigration bill would turn “probably even Jesus himself” into a criminal.
A relative latecomer to the charged immigration debate, Mrs. Clinton yesterday spoke passionately to a gathering of a broad spectrum of New York’s immigrant leaders. Her comments come amid a local groundswell of activity in preparation for a Senate vote Monday that is expected to determine the nature of immigration reform. …
Mrs. Clinton, who previously said the bill would move America toward a “police state,” also invoked biblical language yesterday. “It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures,” Mrs. Clinton said, “because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan.”

Hillary has all the chutzpah of her husband and almost none of his deft political touch. This speech sounds exactly as if a marketing firm designed it. One can almost hear the debate around the table: “She needs to reference religion more.” “Hillary has to connect with the base.” “She needs to be more aggressive in attacking Republicans.” At this point, one of the young geniuses would leap to his/her feet and say, “Eureka! Let’s have her slam Republicans for turning Biblical figures into criminals with their immigration policy!”
Hillary also has a problem with her “understanding of Scriptures”, which her speechwriting committee seems to highlight. The Good Samaritan did not cross international borders to assist the victim in the parable; he came from another community in Israel, albeit one held in low regard by other Israelites. Neither did Jesus, who traveled through what is now the West Bank region and Jerusalem but at the time was all part of Israel. Then, as now, nations enforced borders (especially in wartime) and threw out those who entered illegally — if the offenders were lucky enough not to be killed. Furthermore, if Jesus wanted to come to the United States and preach, He would find this nation to be among the easiest to enter for that purpose, and I doubt that He would find it necessary to dodge the Border Patrol in New Mexico or Texas to do it.
And just for the rhetorical record, unless someone plans on finding the bones of the Good Samaritan and putting him on trial — or banning the Bible — it’s impossible to “literally” criminalize him. That’s sloppy thinking and speaking, and one would expect a lawyer of Hillary’s caliber to know that.
In fact, since illegal immigration is already illegal, the new House bill doesn’t “criminalize” anyone that isn’t already a criminal. (What does Hillary think the term “illegal immigration” means, anyway?) It sets the violation as a felony instead of a misdemeanor, which seems more appropriate in an age where terrorists seek infiltration into the country. It also allows for easier deportation and doesn’t grant amnesty on the basis of America being too lazy to enforce its own laws.
Perhaps a guest worker program would be a good idea; I am not opposed to it in principle. However, implementing such a plan as a way to reward people who have entered illegally sends the wrong message — and as we found out twenty years ago, it only attracts more illegals. As the descendant of immigrants on all sides of my family (I’m 3rd-generation on my mother’s side), I have enormous respect for those who risked everything to build a better life for themselves and their children by coming to America. The difference is that they did so while obeying the laws of the country they admired. Illegal immigrants start off their relationship with America by cheating and breaking our laws, and in doing so reflect poorly on those who followed the law to enter.
Now the Democrats, led by Hillary and Harry Reid (who has threatened to filibuster any immigration reform that doesn’t include amnesty for illegals already in the country), want to eliminate border enforcement and controls on immigration by taking away all consequences of breaking our laws. That is a stunningly foolish position to take at any time, but while we fight international terrorists who aim to put terror cells in our communities for future attacks, it’s suicidal. We need less of The Gospel According To The Clintons and more sanity in our border enforcement.

Which Jobs Are They Taking?

The Guardian reports that American crops have been left to rot in the fields, thanks to a sudden dearth of migrant workers for farm work. Is this the result of better border enforcement? No — it turns out that the illegal immigrants that do the work Americans don’t want have decided they don’t want them either:

After 15 years working in the fields of California for American farmers, Mr Camacho has found a new life: two months ago he started working at the Golden Acorn Casino.
“It pays better,” he says. “In the fields you work all hours, it’s cold and hard and you don’t get more than $7 [about £4] an hour. With this job I have regular hours, I know when I’m going to work and I know what I’m going to earn.”
Mr Camacho is not unique. Agricultural labourers, almost exclusively Latinos and at least two-thirds of them undocumented, are moving into more stable, less harsh employment.
The migration from agriculture is taking its toll on one of the largest industries in the US – and particularly on California’s $32bn a year sector. Faced with an exodus of labour to the construction industry as well as to the leisure and retail sectors, farmers are struggling to get their crops in. Ten percent of the cauliflower and broccoli harvest has been left to rot this year, and some estimates put the likely loss of the winter harvest as high as 50%. …
Mr Lopez – known to admirers and detractors as The Dog – has been working in the Imperial Valley around Calexico for 39 years. Each day he hires 600 to 800 workers, but this year he’s been unable to meet the farmers’ demands. “There’s lots of work and very few people,” he says. “We never make up our teams. You could pay them $10 an hour and it wouldn’t make any difference.” Most of the workers are paid $7.25 an hour, above the minimum wage of $6.75.

This has not been widely reported in the United States and rebuts the Bush Administration’s argument that the migrant workers take jobs that Americans are unwilling to do. It also undermines the union allegations that the migrants depress wages — it looks like salaries have jumped considerably regardless of the influx of labor. That also has been reflected in the labor statistics, where the jobless rate has dropped to its lowest in almost five years, 4.7%.
So what does this mean? It shows that illegal immigrants aren’t just interested in working the farms, nobly putting food on our tables and keeping its cost low. They share the same goals as American workers: less work for more pay. American businesses want greater efficiency at less cost, and so continue to employ these workers, even while their salary demands start to rise. It also shows the silliness of raising the minimum wage; in a healthy economy, labor gets its market-based value. Cutting off the flow of extra workers over our southern border would do more to increase the base wages for Americans than any artificial controls imposed by government anyway.
Economic justifications for guest-worker programs do not appear very credible. At some point, we have to wonder why Americans wouldn’t choose to work at casinos for anything north of minimum wage. The immigrants have indeed put themselves between legal residents and paying jobs, and we’re still not getting the crops harvested. Why would we want to make this a permanent condition?

The CQ Interview & Podcast: Rep. J.D. Hayworth

Earlier this afternoon, I had an opportunity to interview Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), who came to Congress during the heady days of the Contract With America and the rise of the Republican majority. Rep. Hayworth has written a new book that has just been released by Regnery, Whatever It Takes: Illegal Immigration, Border Security, and The War On Terror. The Congressman took an hour out of his day to talk to CQ about illegal immigration, the guest worker proposal, and how the open border in the south presents a clear and present danger to American security.
It’s fair to say that Hayworth has a front-row seat to the many issues that illegal immigration causes. He has lived most of his adult life in Arizona, one of the front-line states in the massive long-term invasion (as he sees it) across the Mexican border. The lack of action from the federal government, especially post-9/11 has continually frustrated him as it has a number of his colleagues in the Southwest. He sees that the time may have finally come for Washington to do something about stemming the flow, even if only for national-security purposes, but he believes tthat the current efforts towards a guest-worker program will not work.
I took the opportunity to speak with Hayworth at length about immigration, and found him to be a fascinating and well-schooled spokesman for the effort to close the southern gap in our defenses. We also talked at length about reform, lobbying, and the upcoming election for the Majority Leader’s office. He did not endorse any candidate, although he did say that John Shadegg, as his colleague from Arizona, has his attention. He wants to wait to see if the three contenders will agree to a debate, preferably public. Hayworth talked about the public nature of a process that normally would have taken place in quiet caucuses.
Hayworth also acknowledged that Jack Abramoff had contributed money to his campaign as well, and seemed pleased to be able to address the issue during our interview. Hayworth comes from a state that has a large Native American population that had long supported him, and his answers to my questions on reform and the Abramoff scandal are very interesting.
The interview ran to 57 minutes, and I have broken it up into four separate podcasts — the first podcasts for Captain’s Quarters, and hopefully the lead of a series of interviews for downloading by CQ readers, and listeners now as well. The links for the four parts are below:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
For those who have CQ in their RSS feedreader, podcasts will show up in this URL when I post them.
UPDATE: I added the RSS feed to iTunes, but I don’t know when it will start showing up.

Bush To Finally Address Immigration

In need of some momentum in Congress for legislative traction, George Bush has finally decided to start addressing illegal immigration and the porous southern border of the United States. After seeing almost his entire legislative agenda stalled out between the Iraq war debates and two Supreme Court nominations, Bush needs to apply a push to get some successes from Congress early in the next session:

President Bush will make stops in Arizona and Texas this week to address an issue that has divided some members of his own Republican Party — illegal immigration. …
A senior administration official said that the president, in a speech on immigration, will focus on three areas: border security, enforcement and a temporary worker program.
The official said the president will talk about “additional resources and the use of technology to secure the border,” and will discuss it in terms of national security and the economy.

Not all of this will thrill the Republican base, which has gotten restless waiting for some solutions to the ongoing security issues presented at the border. The GOP doesn’t like the notion of Bush’s guest-worker program, but the open question of what to do with 10 million illegal aliens already inside the US requires some sort of reasonable answer. Roundup and massive deportation would probably require the armed forces to conduct the operations — in defiance of posse comitatus — and concentration camps to sort out the illegal from the legal. Neither will prove palatable for moderates in either party, no matter how much the taint of amnesty carries with a guest-worker program.
At least the issue will find its way back to the national debate, with some momentum to finally get legislative treatment next year.

Mexican Military Invades US, Steals Drug-Running Truck From Border Patrol

In a disturbing incident that has received little national attention, the US Border Patrol found itself in retreat on US soil after interdicting a dump truck full of marijuana on US Interstate 10 last week. The truck made a run for the border but got stuck on a riverbed. While the Border Patrol started to unload the estimated three tons of weed, a larger armed group apparently comprised at least in part by the Mexican military forced the Border Patrol away from the vehicle and bulldozed it back into Mexico:

The incident began when Border Patrol agents tried to stop the dump truck on Interstate 10, sheriff’s officials said. The truck fled to Mexico in the Neely’s Crossing area.
The truck got stuck in the riverbed, and the driver took off running. Agents “started to retrieve the bundles (of marijuana) when the armed subjects appeared,” said Agent Ramiro Cordero, a Border Patrol spokesman.
The Border Patrol called Hudspeth County sheriff’s deputies and Texas state troopers for backup, both agencies confirmed.
Doyal said the truck driver returned with the armed men, including men who arrived in official-looking vehicles with overhead lights and what appeared to be Mexican soldiers in uniform and with military-style rifles.
The Mexican army is used in anti-narcotics operations. Army officials could not be reached for comment.
The standoff ended when the “soldiers” used a bulldozer to pull the dump truck into Mexico, sheriff’s officials said.

Several possibilities exist for explaining this incident, none of which sounds good for the border situation. The most likely explanation is that the Mexicans wore fake military uniforms and the armed band worked for drug smugglers. Second, the Mexican army personnel work for the drug smugglers, and third, the operation was approved by Mexican army commanders as a competing interdiction effort. I can think of no other explanation, especially since the band had a bulldozer handy — which tends to support the first two hypotheses, as American officials believe smugglers use the dozers to cut trails across the rivers for drug runners.
If the Mexican army sent a patrol into the US to steal the truck from our law-enforcement agencies, that qualifies as an invasion and the US government has to get an explanation right now from Vicente Fox as to their intentions. I doubt that this is the case, but the other options don’t sound any better. If the smugglers have Mexican army uniforms and can successfully pose as such, it puts American forces at risk of capture or death at the hands of the smugglers if our men work in coordination with them on the border. If the smugglers have real Mexican soldiers working for them, then we have the same problems, plus any ability to coordinate with their army no longer exists.
But by far the biggest problem shown in this incident is that no matter who the Mexicans were, our Border Patrol presents no match for the drug smugglers and bandits along the southern border of the US. To have a dump truck stolen while they stood by and watched, afraid to fire a shot in defense of the border, amply demonstrates the futility of our entire approach to security along the southwestern edge of the US. This incident is nothing less than a rank humiliation and exposes the underfunded and overstretched Border Patrol as completely unable to fulfill its mission with current resources and leadership.
The fact that this happened a week ago and has remained buried in the local press is equally disturbing. How many such incidents have already occurred? How many more have to happen before drug smugglers and worse start pushing through with heavy arms, knowing that nothing we have will stop them? (Hat tip: CQ reader Carolyn C, with a link to WND’s report.)

Oh, Were These The Jobs Americans Don’t Want?

The Los Angeles Times takes a long, hard look today at Mara Salvatrucha, the international criminal conspiracy that uses illegal immigration into the US both as a fundraiser and as a staging ground for the most hard-core gangsterism currently seen on the streets. MS-13, as the Central American-based syndicate is better known, goes back to the last amnesty offered by the United States and now has its tentacles throughout North and Central America. The US efforts to interdict the gangsters have been laughable at best:

On a sweltering afternoon, an unmarked white jetliner taxies to a remote terminal at the international airport here and disgorges dozens of criminal deportees from the United States. Marshals release the handcuffed prisoners, who shuffle into a processing room.
Of the 70 passengers, at least four are members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a gang formed two decades ago near MacArthur Park west of the Los Angeles skyline. …
But a deportation policy aimed in part at breaking up a Los Angeles street gang has backfired and helped spread it across Central America and back into other parts of the United States. Newly organized cells in El Salvador have returned to establish strongholds in metropolitan Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities. Prisons in El Salvador have become nerve centers, authorities say, where deported leaders from Los Angeles communicate with gang cliques across the United States.
A gang that once numbered a few thousand and was involved in street violence and turf battles has morphed into an international network with as many as 50,000 members, the most hard-core engaging in extortion, immigrant smuggling and racketeering. In the last year, the federal government has brought racketeering cases against MS-13 members in Long Island, N.Y., and southern Maryland.

How did the United States allow such a large-scale criminal enterprise grow in its own yard? Lax immigration enforcement, politically-correct policing policies, and a wink-nudge attitude towards garnering cheap labor for business gave everyone an incentive to look the other way while the worst of the wave of immigrants transformed themselves from a violent street gang to a terrorist organization bent on personal enrichment rather than political activity. For an example of the cluelessness of American border policy, the Times provides this anecdote:

Cruz-Mendoza has been riding the merry-go-round for eight years.
He was a minor when he was deported in 1997 and again in 1998, federal immigration officials said.
In December 2003, he was convicted of attempted robbery, after he shoved a woman into a fence while trying to steal her purse at a South Los Angeles bus stop, court records show. As he demanded money, she said, he made threatening gestures and reached into his pocket, where police found a six-inch steak knife when he was arrested shortly thereafter.
In March 2004, he pleaded guilty to a second felony of drug possession, which was dismissed in a sentencing deal for the attempted robbery.
After serving little more than a year in jail, Cruz-Mendoza was deported for a third time in January, records and interviews show.
U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested him in Arizona a month later. At that point, he could have been charged with a felony for reentering the country after deportation, which could have landed him in federal prison for as long as 20 years.
Instead, federal court records show he struck another plea deal with the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona, admitting to a “petty offense” of being in the country illegally. He was ordered to serve 90 days and pay a $10 fine, and was put on the July flight to San Salvador.

Small wonder that people continue to flood across the border in waves numbering millions every year. Why bother obeying the law when even the authorities don’t bother enforcing it? While a good portion of these people want nothing more than economic opportunity, their flight enables others — in some cases, their children — to join MS-13 or other criminal outfits to exploit the American people who shrug their shoulders at their invasion of the southern border.
Stupidity such as this has enabled MS-13 to grow from a street gang of a few hundred illegals to a syndicate of over 50,000 international hardcases who will commit any crime for its own purposes. Michelle Malkin has long written about the foolishness of American immigration policy in general and specifically about the MS-13 organization on many occasions.
We need to demand that Congress finally do something about the southern border and the flood of illegals that come across it if we purport to take security seriously, especially in this age of terror. We made an impact on the Supreme Court and on spending just by speaking out — and we need to do so on this issue as well.

Chertoff Indicates Higher Priority For Border Enforcement

DHS chief Michael Chertoff spoke to reporters at a breakfast meeting yesterday and gave an “unusually blunt assessment” of the security issues involving the southern border of the US. He described the difficulties in keeping illegals from crossing the border at will and even keeping those caught in custody, and described plans to correct the situation. While far from a complete solution, Chertoff at least gives the impression that the Bush administration might have started to take the problem more seriously:

Acknowledging public frustration over illegal immigrants, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday that the federal government’s border control efforts must be significantly strengthened.
“We have decided to stand back and take a look at how we address the problem and solve it once and for all,” Mr. Chertoff said at a breakfast meeting with reporters. “The American public is rightly distressed about a situation in which they feel we do not have the proper control over our borders.” …
The strategy that Mr. Chertoff said his department was preparing goes far beyond hiring more Border Patrol agents and installing more surveillance cameras, infrared and motion detectors, and fences, initiatives that are already planned or under way.
In addition to those apprehension efforts, the secretary intends to bolster the deportation process so that an overwhelmed detention system does not cause illegal immigrants to be set free instead of being sent home. He plans to add beds for detainees, expedite deportations by making more judges and lawyers available, and try to track down more illegal immigrants who do not appear for deportation hearings.

The sheer number of those detained in border crossings overwhelms the systems used to process them for deportation. That starts with a lack of beds for illegals, making it impossible to keep them all incarcerated until their INS hearings. Those get delayed due to a lack of both judges and lawyers for representation on both sides. This cycle jams the system and causes the number of cases delayed to rise exponentially, as each day brings new detainees into the system. Add in a lack of investigators to bring back people who fail to show for their hearings as scheduled, and the picture Chertoff paints looks bleak indeed.
Essentially, the issue does not differ much from a manufacturing efficiency problem in a factory, one which Henry Ford addressed in his pioneering work on assembly lines. One must move the resources directly to the line in order to make the most efficient use of the process, and Chertoff proposes exactly that. He wants to increase beds by 10%, which won’t solve the problem but will help. He also wants more judges and lawyers near the detention centers, speeding up the judicial process to keep the beds available there, which will add to the value of the additional beds. Chertoff also described some high-tech evaluation systems to pinpoint where the most effort and resources will go.
Congress already has indicated it will fund a large increase in the number of border agents in the next budget cycle, but Chertoff describes a fundamentally better approach to the process that ensures their work accomplishes something other than playing tag. Having more border guards without improving the efficiency of the adjudication system does little to keep immigrants out of the country, especially when jumping bail has almost no consequences at all.
We still need to see more of a political commitment from the Bush administration on border control, starting with better enforcement and heavier penalties in the business community that employs illegals. Chertoff’s ideas sound good, but his numbers look weak; more resources should be allocated to these efforts to create much more efficiency in the processes that the DHS Secretary proposes. If Bush and the GOP do not want to give up immigration as a political edge to the DLC-style politicians in the Southwest like Bill Richardson and Janet Napolitano, then they had better start taking it seriously now. Chertoff’s efforts look like a good start.

The Southern Sieve

FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before Congress today that illegal aliens from countries with significant al-Qaeda ties have crossed the Mexican border into the US, while terrorists have now begun assuming Hispanic last names to blend into the flood of immigrants:

“We are concerned, Homeland Security is concerned about special interest aliens entering the United States,” Mueller said, using a term for people from countries where al-Qaida is known to be active.
Under persistent questioning from Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, Mueller said he was aware of one route that takes people to Brazil, where they assume false identities, and then to Mexico before crossing the U.S. border.
He also said that in some instances people with Middle Eastern names have adopted Hispanic last names before trying to get into the United States.

Our inability to secure our Southern border amounts to the single most embarassing and preventable security lapse since 9/11. This has little to do with the FBI but with an administration and Congress that believes it needs a comprehensive solution to illegal immigration before it can act to secure the border. This thinking flies in the face of our other post-9/11 strategies, where we have avoided attacking everyone at once in favor of tactically playing out our strategy in one hot theater at a time.
We need to come up with a grand strategy for dealing with the immigrants already here, but we must act immediately to secure the border. The rest can wait until later. The analysis paralysis we have accepted for the past decade or more will eventually kill us. In fact, it may already have, and we have yet to discover it.

Sensenbrenner Pushes Border Security

In response to the omission of border security from the Senate GOP’s agenda, James Sensenbrenner has taken up the slack in the House. The Los Angeles Times reports that Sensenbrenner will force the White House to honor its pledge to him over the compromise in last year’s intelligence reorganization by supporting border-security improvements in this session:

In a move that could put him at odds with President Bush, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee introduced legislation Wednesday that would effectively deny driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, tighten requirements for political asylum and complete the border fence between California and Mexico.
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) said the measures would help secure the nation from attacks like those carried out by Al Qaeda on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He unveiled his legislation shortly after Bush, at a White House news conference, reaffirmed that immigration reform was one of his legislative priorities this year.

The White House pressured Sensenbrenner to drop these issues from the intelligence bill last year as the Bush campaign did not want to get embarrassed by a failure to enact the 9/11 Commission reforms that had broad bipartisan support. In exchange, the GOP pledged to support the bill in 2005, and Sensenbrenner plans on ensuring they do.
Of course, that means that the same people who tried to tar Sensenbrenner as a raving xenophobe get a second shot at it. Already some have cast the bill as “anti-immigrant”:

Sensenbrenner’s bill drew immediate criticism from immigrant rights advocates, who said that its provisions were anti-immigrant.
“None of the provisions that are in the bill will make us safer,” said Kevin Appleby, director of migration and refugee policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Denying licenses to undocumented immigrants will “make our roads less safe,” Appleby said, because many will drive without a license or insurance.
Appleby said that tightening asylum criteria by requiring a person to prove that they were persecuted in their home country and allowing immigration judges to reject an application if it was determined that the applicant was not credible “could lead to the rejection of valid claims.”

Unfortunately, there is a large difference between being anti-immigrant in general and specifically opposing illegal immigration. The LA Times uses the more politically-correct term of “undocumented immigrants”, but the fact is that a driver’s license conveys governmental approval of a person’s residence in the US. Possession of government ID greatly reduces the chances that illegal alien’s true status will be correctly deduced. The vast majority of them probably want nothing more than a job. However, the open sieve on the Rio Grande doesn’t do anything to ensure that — and it only took 19 people to kill 3,000 on 9/11, which is why the 9/11 Commission made border security such a high priority in its report.
Appleby calls the use of administrative judges for cases of claimed political asylum a “shotgun approach,” a clever case of projection. In fact, right now the INS determines the validity of the cases based more or less on country of origin, and that’s about it. Having a hearing in front of a judge at least gives the opportunity for an opposing point of view and specific evidence to be examined. Sensenbrenner’s proposal corrects the current shotgun approach.
Besides, where do you think oppression occurs? Places like Cuba and China, of course, but also Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, and so on. Doesn’t anyone think it might be a good idea to correctly identify asylum-seekers and check them out a bit first in our adversarial system to ensure we’re not welcoming al-Qaeda operatives in our asylum program?
I’m not sure if I like everything about Sensenbrenner’s proposals; I had my doubts last year on some of the specifics. What I want is better control on our borders and some rational debate about it. Sensenbrenner gives us the opportunity for that, while Appleby just gives us the same old PC demagoguery. The White House needs to ensure that the Senate doesn’t just bury this at the bottom of its list of priorities.

Arizonans Take Security Seriously

Arizona voters passed a referendum last week that requires people to demonstrate their citizenship when registering to vote, produce ID when actually voting, and identify themselves as citizens or legal residents when receiving government services, despite the opposition of leading state politicians of both parties. Despite being outspent 5-1 along with all of the opposition, Arizonans sent a message on immigration to Washington by voting in favor, 56-44, and other states now may copy Arizona’s effort:

Initiative proponents, arguing that illegal immigration in Arizona is out of control, said Proposition 200’s passage on Nov. 2 was a crucial first step in reducing a glut of illegal immigration and sends messages to government officials in both Washington and Mexico that illegal immigration will not be condoned.
The initiative — opposed by key elected officials in Arizona, including Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano and Republican Sen. John McCain; several Hispanic advocacy groups; labor unions and community and civil rights organizations — passed with 56 percent of the vote.
Stricter border enforcement efforts by federal authorities in California and Texas have funneled hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens into Arizona, where they have placed huge demands on schools, hospitals and other public services.

Of course, this exercise in democracy and citizen action has produced the usual result — a lawsuit. MALDEF and La Raza have both prepared suits to be filed as soon as the election results are certified to block Prop. 200’s implementation, and if history is any guide, they will probably succeed in tubing 200. La Raza spokeswoman Janet Murguia argued that the 5-1 advantage they had in opposing 200 still didn’t give them an oppotunity to convince people that 200 was bad policy:

Janet Murguia, head of the National Council of La Raza, said opponents would have been successful in defeating the initiative if they had more time to reach out to voters. She said the organization “continued to be frustrated by the immigration situation, but we want to remind folks this still is not the answer.”

It appears that despite the heavy opposition and the disparity of the campaign spending, voters in Arizona supported 200 anyway. The idea that an election in which several months have passed between certifying a referendum and voting on it does not give highly organized groups like MALDEF and La Raza time enough to get its message out has no merit. Some of 200 may be bad policy, but it doesn’t violate the Constitution; once again, one has to question the commitment to democracy of people who oppose citizen activism in creating laws they deem desirable. And certainly after all the wailing and crying we’ve heard from the past four years about electoral practices, ensuring that foreign nationals are not perverting our voting results should be one point on which all Americans can agree.
In a time of terrorist attacks on the US, having people pour over the Mexican border unregulated and unchecked becomes more than just an economic issue — it’s a security issue as well. Arizona just sent a big message to Washington that they are tired of being on the front lines all by themselves. Lawsuits may blunt the impact of the referendum, but the message itself will resonate.