Our favorite neo-Nazi-friendly legislator, Arizona's own Russell Pearce, has been hankering to revoke Latinos' birthright citizenship for a long time. But now he's actually the president of the Arizona State Senate -- which means he has real power.
And with SB1070 under his belt, he's ready to roll -- not just in Arizona, but nationally.
Interestingly, a recent Arizona Republic editorial actually begged him not to, considering that it's not going to do a thing to help Arizona get out of its budget crisis:
With Arizona facing huge shortfalls, this is no time for distractions.
It's hard to imagine a worse distraction than trying to write our own rules on citizenship.
Unfortunately, Senate President-elect Russell Pearce is a keen promoter of trying to reinterpret the 14th Amendment, which establishes birthright citizenship, through state law.
Never mind that the U.S. Constitution is completely outside the jurisdiction of state legislators. Or that the state faces its worst financial crisis ever.
This is like calling the fire department when your house is in flames - and the firefighters responding by rushing to Washington, D.C., to spray water on the Capitol.
There are wiser perspectives among the incoming legislators. Some senators supported Pearce, a Mesa Republican, for the top leadership job with the understanding that he wouldn't file a birthright bill.
That was, it turns out, more than a bit naive. Because there's nothing to stop someone else from dropping such legislation.
"I never pledged not to hear the bill," Pearce said in a recent Editorial Board meeting. "Will I facilitate it getting passed? Yes, I will."
Pearce claims that Arizona suffered no harm from Senate Bill 1070, his last do-it-yourself immigration-enforcement job. That's not what business people say. Arizona is still suffering from the economic damage, not to mention the bitter divisions, of that misguided law. The consequences - the opportunities lost, the long-lasting stain on our image - will stretch on for years.
In other words, Pearce pulled a fast one on his fellow Republicans in order to win the Senate presidency. Because yesterday, there he was on Fox's Your World with guest host Brian Sullivan, not only touting the bill essentially as his project -- and vowing to unveil it as a national project:
SULLIVAN: You are not keeping this in the Arizona borders. You are announcing this at the National Press Club, right, next week.
PEARCE: Yes. Yes.
SULLIVAN: Why do this on a national stage?
PEARCE: Well, because we have about 18 states that have joined us in this effort, a coalition of 18 states that agree with us. Others do, too. They just don`t think they can pass it through their congress or -- I mean, their legislative bodies.
So we actually have the majority of Americans on this issue on our side, too. The polls show 62 percent to 70 percent of Americans know that birthright citizenship is unconstitutional, that the practice ought to be stopped.
What you`re doing, you are inducing -- it is against the law to enter the United States in violation of federal law. And it`s against law to remain here without permission. And yet we induce you to break the law. It is absolutely outrageous. The common sense...
The best part is that Pearce openly admits that his strategy is intended to draw the state of Arizona into costly litigation when the inevitable lawsuits arrive, with the hope that they will be able to get the Supreme Court to overturn its previous rulings making clear the 14th Amendment grants citizenship to anyone born on American soil. As he told Sullivan:
PEARCE: So we know they will sue. That is a given. They sue you on everything. They don`t want the laws enforced. Their support for anarchists and for the -- and for destruction of the rule of law is outrageous.
Somewhat secondarily, we all saw how the fight over SB1070 became a nexus for right-wing extremist activity, to the point that it's now abundantly clear that Arizona has a white-supremacist problem, maybe even more substantial than Idaho's in its heyday. This bill will only pour gasoline on that particular bonfire.
All in the service of Russell Pearce's self-promoting ego. Arizonans and their budget can go to the devil for all he cares. He has a national image to promote.