Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.
In fact, I've instructed members of my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation. But if we continue to fail to act at the federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country.
Indeed. It doesn't take a genius to see that the new Arizona law will essentially impose a police state in Arizona, especially for nonwhite people. And as we noted then:
Isn't it odd, really, how these right-wingers complain about government tyranny and how liberals are imposing a police state, yaddah yaddah yaddah, yet in the states where they have full control, they eagerly institute a police state themselves?
You can read the text of the bill here [PDF file].
But the president is making an important point: The Arizona craziness is a good example of why we can't let comprehensive immigration reform wait.
We know that lots of Democrats, especially the Blue Dogs, want to put immigration reform on the back burner till after the 2010 election. After all, it's the kind of issue that defines them: Blue Dogs always pander to conservatives on key issues, because they think that wins them more votes in the end than standing up for core principles.
It's also apparent, from these results and from polling, that the nativists' "deport them all" immigration policy is wildly unpopular -- and that, moreover, Americans in fact take a pragmatic view of immigration: They're not interested in shipping out illegal immigrants, they're interested in seeing them become legal citizens.
The evidence is that voters get behind progressives who talk straight common sense on immigration -- as opposed to the fearmongering and scapegoating inherent in the Arizona Republican approach, which inevitably leads to the institution of a police state and the destruction of families.
It's also looking like Harry Reid will be pushing immigration reform as well. And there are many more reasons than fearful Blue Dogs why it's a politically smart move, too. Just ask those 200,000 people who gathered in D.C. last month.