Posted on November 29, 2004

The Open Borders Lobby vs. the People of Arizona

Shawn Macomber,, Nov. 29

The democratic will of the people is being put to the test in Arizona by an imperial judiciary; local, national, and international politicians; and Mexican secessionist partisans. At issue: whether the state should apply the law and deny welfare benefits to those in the nation illegally.

On November 2, Arizonans passed Proposition 200 by a substantial 56-44 margin. The ballot initiative closely resembled California’s Proposition 187 of a decade ago both in sentiment and intent: Depriving the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship to those who have settled here illegally. Essentially this means putting some basic, common sense bulwarks in place to stem the tide of illegal immigration. The new law will require “proof of eligibility” — i.e. legal identification — when applying for welfare benefits and when registering to vote. It also requires state employees who discover a violation of federal immigration laws to report it to federal immigration authorities. It is important to note that Proposition 200 is not a change in the law, but simply a demand that the state government enforce both local and federal laws.

Supporting basic law and order might seem a modest proposal, but supporters of the initiative were immediately tarred as racist representatives of those inherently prejudiced “red states.”

“We Americans must look beyond the scare tactics employed by such campaigns to see the fundamentally un-American character of such organizations and leaders,” Yolanda Chávez Leyva, a Texas historian, wrote hysterically before the vote. “Voters must not give in to the fears and prejudice of such groups.”

These “fundamentally un-American” phantom “groups” apparently include 56 percent of Arizonans in all racial, religious, and economic categories. Hispanic support for the measure was at 47 percent. Forty-two percent of Democrats voted “yea.” Catholics and American Indians were strongly on-board, as well. Since the vote is not aligned on race, party, or class, it would seem that anyone who disagrees with the position of Leyva and the Open Borders Lobby has apparently given into “fear and prejudice.”

This fact did not keep the state’s political establishment from fighting it to the last. Republican Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl joined the entire Arizona congressional delegation, Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano, the Chamber of Commerce, and virtually every media outlet in vociferously opposing the measure. “I understand the frustration most Arizonans feel with our unprotected border, but I don’t think this is the right answer,” Arizona’s senior senator John McCain argued in one interview. “It could be very divisive.” In short, Arizona voters cannot trust any major politician, Democrat or Republican, to stop pandering long enough to help them, so they helped themselves.

The reason why Proposition 200 was successful across ethnic and party lines was because it appealed to people’s sense of fairness. The number of illegal immigrants in Arizona is approaching 500,000 with the annual cost of providing public benefits to them somewhere in excess of $1 billion, or approximately $700 a year per household. Ballot initiatives such as Proposition 200 would not be necessary if politicians like McCain and Napolitano did their jobs and secured the border in the first place. When politicians abandon law-abiding citizens to pay for a welfare state for law-breakers to court newly minted voters, it would seem the average voter, whatever his political stripe, has few other options.

Clearly the political establishment and the advocacy groups got the message. Elias Bermudez, executive director of one of these “immigrant advocacy groups, Centro de Ayuda, is counseling concerned immigrants (presumably illegal — otherwise why should they care?) to continue going about their business and not worry about those pesky voters.

“I tell them not to fear,” Bermudez told the Arizona Republic. “I tell them the courts will eventually strike down this law.”

The actions of the state and local government officials in the wake of the passage of Proposition 200 suggest the measure is not safe from judicial fiat. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has opted to read the initiative as applying to only some welfare programs and the Phoenix City Council is promising to use its resources to defend any employee accused of violating the new law. Secretary of State Jan Brewer has signaled her intention to allow Arizonans to continue registering to vote online despite voter support for Proposition 200 which requires proof of citizenship. Brewer also actually complained to the East Valley Tribune that Proposition 200 will decrease voter turnout (that is, fraudulent voter turnout).

Such vacillations and willful misreading of the initiative have forced the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) to file suit on behalf of Arizona citizens to force the government to adopt a definition of “public benefits” consistent with federal law.

“Having failed to persuade the voters of Arizona to reject Proposition 200, the political leadership is attempting to implement the wishes of the voters in the most limited possible fashion,” a statement by FAIR on the suit states. “Having worked with local people and organizations to get the measure approved over the objections of the state’s political establishment, we intend to continue working cooperatively to ensure that Proposition 200 is implemented as the voters believed it would be.”

Meanwhile, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund is promising to seek a court injunction blocking Proposition 200 immediately.

Not coincidentally, the Mexican foreign ministry, so concerned with our interference in the affairs of Iraq these last two years, took a break from their ranting about imperial America to interfere in their northern neighbor’s affairs. “The Mexican government regrets that the proposition passed and expresses its complete opposition to the measure, as it discriminates against individuals based on their ethnic profile and limits their access to basic health and education services,” an angry statement from Mexico’s foreign ministry reads.

These are sad times, indeed, when U.S. and foreign politicians openly aid racial separatist groups to end-run American law and subvert the will of the American people.