AR-04: Razing Arizona

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    Rep. Mike Ross released an official statement today detailing why he opposes the lawsuit filed by the Justice Department last week challenging Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law.  The alleged Democrat’s statement even managed to parrot all of the major talking points used by defenders of the bill, while simultaneously giving short shrift to the Justice Department’s argument.  Given that he waited until after the weekend to release his statement, you’d think the least Ross could have done would be some background research to see if the “reasons” in his statement actually held water.

    Then again, if he’d done that, we wouldn’t be able to do that voodoo that we do so well.

    I absolutely do not support this lawsuit. Arizona is simply passing legislation to curtail illegal immigration, something the federal government has failed to do over the past few decades. Arizona is acting out of pure necessity as illegal immigration, drug trafficking, gang wars and crime is now pouring into their state from Mexico. Illegal immigration has reached epic proportions and we must act. We should be focused on securing the U.S. & Mexican border – not on suing states that pass tough immigration laws.

    Well, now, that’s interesting.  On April 30, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said: “Our law mirrors federal law.  So why is it bad for Arizona to mirror federal law? No one was crying out in the wilderness about the federal law being wrong or racial profiling. I don’t get it. It’s spin.”

    If the Arizona law merely “mirrors federal law,” then Ross’s statement that Arizona is doing something that the federal government has failed to do would be pretty nonsensical.  On the other hand, if the Arizona law went beyond the federal law — say by making it a crime for an illegal alien to seek work, by making stopping your vehicle to hire someone a crime if it “impedes” traffic, by imposing jail time for acts that the federal law imposes deportation for, or by allowing police to demand proof of citizenship from people who are not suspected of committing any crime — then Brewer’s statement would be a half-truth (at best) demonstrating an intent to deceive voters or an unfamiliarity with the law.

    Oh, but there’s so, so much more.

    Proponents of the law, and those (like Ross) who repeat them without thinking, like to point to the Hydra of crime, drugs, and massive numbers of illegal immigrants — what Gov. Brewer has called “murder, terror and mayhem” — as their bases for supporting the law.  To hear them tell it, Arizona is a state on the brink of disaster due to these forces.

    Except for one tiny detail:

    (…wait for it…)

    (…wait for it…)

    The numbers simply do not bear this out.

    The number of illegal immigrants apprehended along the border, which Customs and Border Protection uses to estimate the overall flow of illegals into the U.S., is down nearly 55% from 2005. In fact, while the CBP apprehended and deported record numbers of illegals in 2009 and is on pace to do the same in 2010, the estimated number of illegals in the U.S. is down over 1 million since 2007, suggesting that CBP is doing a much better job of stopping the flow at the border and of locating illegal already in the U.S.  This is what you would expect, given that there are more than 20,000 border patrol agents on the U.S.-Mexico border, which is up 80% since 2004 AND is the highest number in history.

    But it’s not just raw numbers of illegal immigrants; crime in U.S. border towns is down overall as well.  Tuscon, AZ, and Laredo, TX, have reported reductions in crime over the last year, while El Paso, NM, has one of the lowest crime rates in the entire country.  Violent crimes reported in Arizona dropped by nearly 1,500 incidents between 2005 and 2008 to the lowest rate since 1966, and property crimes fell from about 287,000 to 279,000 over the same period to the lowest rate since 1971, and all of this was despite the actual population of Arizona growing by 600,000 people.  Finally, despite the claims of the law’s supporters that illegal immigrants are responsible for X% of violent crimes in Arizona, the Arizona Department of Public Safety has stated repeatedly that it does not sort crimes by citizenship/non-citizenship of the perpetrator.

    As for the Justice Department lawsuit, the argument is simple and based on the Supremacy Clause: the U.S. Constitution gives preeminent authority to the federal government to regulate immigration matters.  While a state may use its police powers in a manner that has an incidental or indirect effect on aliens, a state preempted from establishing its own immigration laws.  The stated purpose of AZ’s SB 1070 is to “discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens,” which the Justice Department argues amounts to prescribing rules for immigration.

    Look, I don’t think that anyone really believes that we can’t do better when it comes to border security and immigration.  That’s not the point.  The point is that the states may not create their own laws for controlling immigration, no matter how much they may want to and no matter how many Republicans and DINOs in congress are willing to cede their Constitutionally granted powers to the states.  No amount of lying about crime and immigration statistics changes this.

    [Sources: Here and here, as well as the complaint filed by the Justice Department]