How Arizona Came to Embrace S.B. 1070

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

February 15, 2011
Late last week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer announced that her state will initiate a counter suit against the federal government for its action against S.B. 1070. The Obama administration deems it illegal and filed its motion in July. As a result of the Justice Department’s suit, a federal judge blocked key portions of S.B. 1070. Among the most critical was a provision that allows police while enforcing other laws to question a suspect’s immigration status if there are reasonable indications that he is in the Arizona illegally. In a television interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, Brewer defended her position. Said Brewer: "Because the federal government has failed to protect the citizens of Arizona, I am left with no other choice." The federal government’s failure has at least a 25-year history and has been so egregious that it’s hard to comprehend. What’s resulted from two and a half decades of dismissing an increasingly high level of illegal immigrant crime is that today Mexican drug cartels control large portions of Arizona, Mexican gangsters threaten local police and Mexican thugs or their agents perpetrate a rising number gun running incidents, home invasions, carjackings and kidnappings. Worse, innocent Americans have been murdered. The news on March 27, 2010 that Arizona rancher Robert Krentz had been killed by, according to Attorney General Terry Goddard, a scout who was “most likely” employed by Mexican drug smugglers saddened but did not surprise me. I had heard firsthand the accounts from Arizona ranchers about how Washington had turned a deaf ear to their pleas for help. In the early hours of September 11, 2001 I was on a border tour with a retired agent traveling near Naco. We covered miles of unprotected territory and, during our long hours on the dusty trail, saw little fencing. When I got back to my motel, I slept only a couple of hours before phone calls from my east coast friends told me to turn on my television set to see the horrible live footage from the New York World Trade Towers. Coincidentally, that evening I attended a prearranged meeting with some ranchers. All of them told their stories of frustration about how their Senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl, refused to answer their phone calls, letters and FAXes demanding that they take action to end the illegal alien invasion. Then one rancher stood to tell his incredible story. Tired of being ignored, he took a plane to Washington and went directly to McCain’s office where he announced himself, explained the reason for his visit and asked to see the Senator. Instead, McCain sent out a legislative aide. The rancher told the aide that he would return every day for a week until McCain found time to hear his complaints. But that day never came. The rancher returned to Arizona without meeting McCain. The rancher's experience is one of thousands of examples of how Washington puts the interests of illegal aliens above those of Americans. When the government allows illegal immigration to go unchecked for decades, it’s unofficially condoning it. Years of being told they don’t matter explains how Arizonans came to embrace S.B. 1070.
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