Friday, July 30, 2010

Arizona, rogue state

July 29, 2010

The United States has a GDP per head of $46,000. Mexico’s is $8,000. So it is not surprising that millions of Mexicans have entered America illegally in search of a better life. A common estimate of the total number of illegals in the United States is 11m—roughly the population of Ohio. In these circumstances, you would think, America needs an agreed policy on immigration and a set of laws to match, with both the policy and laws being written by Congress in Washington. But that would require some responsible behaviour by politicians. Many have instead either abdicated responsibility or gone out of their way to act irresponsibly, dumping the issue in the laps of the courts and the police.

All this came to a head this week over Arizona’s law SB1070. This law had divided the nation. Supporters saw it as a long-overdue bid by a state to arrest and drive out illegal immigrants, a job they believe the federal government has wilfully neglected. Liberal America portrayed it as a draconian measure that would lead to racial profiling and worse, passed by a state legislature which Harper’s magazine said recently was composed “almost entirely of dimwits, racists and cranks”. On July 28th, the day before 1070 came into effect, Susan Bolton, a federal judge, responded to a lawsuit brought by the federal Department of Justice by putting a block on the most controversial parts of the law. Better to stick with the status quo, she said, than risk putting “a distinct, unusual and extraordinary” burden on resident legal aliens in Arizona.