Arizona Immigration Law Hurts Debate
Monday, August 02, 2010 at 10:34 am
Politicians on both sides of the aisle have eagerly jumped into the debate over Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law, and both sides think they can win on the issue. Candidates for Indiana’s Senate seat said they talk to voters about immigration nearly constantly, while California candidates use SB 1070 to appeal to voters. (Sarah Palin entered the fray Sunday when she said Obama lacks “the cojones” to take on illegal immigration the way Arizona did.)
SB 1070 jump-started the national discourse on immigration, but that may not be such a good thing. The Washington Post’s Roberto Suro argued yesterday that SB 1070 is the wrong place to start a productive conversation about immigration reform:
SB 1070 has the potential to have an even greater impact on the debate over immigration, even if it dies in court. The stakes are higher this time. We are into the third year of a brutal economic downturn, and Washington gridlock has had a stranglehold on immigration policy for even longer. [...]
Regardless of how the court battle is resolved, the Arizona law’s likely legacy is a focus on enforcement in the next round of policymaking, plus long arguments over the role of state and local cops. Effective enforcement that deters illegal immigration is essential, but it may be easier to achieve as an outcome rather than a starting point. This is not a semantic difference. Enforcement has been the starting point for almost every immigration debate over the past 30 years, and look where that’s gotten us.
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