How the Immigration Crackdown Will Destroy Arizona and the GOP
As the true ramifications of Arizona’s Stalinist immigration crack down begin to set in a few things are readily apparent – one way or another the law will bankrupt the state, Arizona will likely swing Democratic for the foreseeable future and it is gut check time for the few reasonable Republicans left in this country.
The law mandates increased enforcement by state and local officials and enforcement ain’t free,
The Arizona agency tasked with training 15,000 law officers to enforce the state’s controversial new illegal immigration law has asked federal authorities for assistance, but administration officials say it is unclear whether the government will help.
The state has less than 90 days to train all of those officers. After they are trained and making arrests somehow the criminal justice system has to process, hold, provide public defenders and have trials for thousands (if not tens of thousands of people) a month. A recent study by the Center for American Progress estimates the cost of similar hypothetical regime for the Federal government at $23,148 per arrestee. There are approximately 460,000 undocumented people in the state. Arizona is facing a $3.3 billion dollar budget shortfall for the next year and this is where their politicians place their priorities? Just last month Arizona axed their Children’s Health Insurance program, leaving 47,000 kids with no health insurance.
Besides the direct system costs there’s also the inconvenient truth that undocumented immigrants are keeping the Arizona economy alive. These immigrants are worth tens of billions of dollars worth of economic activity in the state. Arizona has just increased the cost of their state and local criminal justice system exponentially while at the same time undercutting a key segment of their economy. Not to mention the economic fallout as organizations and Americans decide that their dollars are better spent elsewhere. What happens if the Major League Baseball Player’s Association decides that it doesn’t like the idea of 27% of its members facing arbitrary detention during Spring Training? It’s not a matter of if this measure will bring Arizona’s economy to it’s knees but rather when Arizona’s economy be brought down.
And what if a local Sheriff decides that his department can’t or won’t enforce this proto-fascist law? The law allows citizens to sue any government entity that is not fully enforcing the law. Talking Points Memo:
Arizonans can sue government entities, state or local, if they believe those entities aren’t fully enforcing the law — including, of course, this new law itself. The government could be on the hook for penalties as high as $5000 per day.
That kind of explicit permission to sue the government for not enforcing the law is almost unheard of, according to Mark Miller, a professor at the University of Arizona Law School. “This kind of … private right of action for an executive decision,” — that is, a law enforcement policy adopted by the government — “is to my knowledge completely unknown, and to my mind, stunning,” Miller told TPMmuckraker.
The effect, said Miller, could be to “shut law enforcement down by taking all of their time and budget defending cases” brought by citizens who support the law — which has the backing of about 70 percent of Arizonans, according to recent polls.
Arizona’s governor just signed an economic suicide pact for her state. Enforcement of the law will bring certain economic calamity and non-enforcement of the law brings slightly less certain economic calamity.
What about the politics of this? Well if the law is an economic suicide pact then it’s a political death warrant – just ask California Republicans. Markos Moulitsas on the striking similarities between 2010 Arizona and mid-90s California:
The California GOP’s embrace of the hateful Prop 187, which would’ve banned undocumented immigrants from all government services, including public education, continues to cost their party 16 years later. Since the initiative passed in 1994, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only Republican, under bizarre conditions (the recall election), to win a governor, senator, or presidential race in the state. Democrats have dominated the rest of the statewide elected offices, with just a smattering of Republicans occasionally picking up the odd seat…
Arizona Latinos have gone, literally overnight, from being perhaps the most pro-GOP in the nation, to joining California as the most anti-GOP ones in the nation. This, in a state in which whites are soon to be a minority…
Within a decade, Arizona will be as reliably Democratic as California is today. And when that day arrives, we’ll be able to trace it all to last Friday’s passage of SB 1070.
This is a generational game changer akin not only to California’s Prop 187 Fiasco but also to LBJ’s passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which drove African-Americans to the Democratic Party and white southerners to the GOP. And that is exactly what has some national Republicans petrified of this bill. Here’s former George W. Bush aide Michael Gerson writing in Wednesday’s Washington Post,
The Arizona law — like others before it — does have one virtue. It sorts Republicans according to their political and moral seriousness. By the mid-1990s, California had experienced an exponential growth in illegal immigration that strained public services. Gov. Pete Wilson responded by supporting Proposition 187, which denied schooling and non-emergency medical care to undocumented children and adults. Doctors and teachers were required to report anyone they suspected of being illegal immigrants.
The resulting debate revealed a gap in judgment. Wilson rode ethnically based resentment to reelection — while alienating Latinos in large numbers, driving the state Republican Party into irrelevance and earning the general contempt of history. Republican leaders such as Jack Kemp and then-Gov. George W. Bush of Texas (I have worked for both men) fought the political current, opposed Proposition 187-like restrictions and gained in stature over time.
In politics demographics can be destiny and if the Republican Party not just in Arizona but nationally is viewed as the home of racist demagogoues it will absolutely crush the GOP as a national party within the next two decades. After the 2008 Presidential election I blogged about a National Journal piece on demographics and the GOP. Here’s what National Journal had to say:
Start by considering the electorate’s six broadest demographic groups — white voters with at least a four-year college degree; white voters without a college degree; African-Americans; Hispanics; Asians; and other minorities.
Now posit that each of those groups voted for Barack Obama or John McCain in exactly the same proportions as it actually did… If each of these groups voted as it did in 2008 but constituted the same share of the electorate as in 1992, McCain would have won. Comfortably…
[P]itch the thought experiment forward 12 years. Imagine that the major demographic groups voted as they did in 2008, but cast a share of the vote equal to their expected share of the population in 2020… In that scenario, Obama beats McCain by nearly 14 points — almost twice as much as in 2008. Demography will indeed be destiny if Republicans can’t broaden their reach.
To their credit some Republicans are trying to broaden their reach and are pushing back against this shameful law in Arizona. But over the weekend GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter was gleefully endorsing the idea of deporting American citizens who’s parents are undocumented. (Where, precisely, you deport U.S. Citizens too is a good question but unfortunately our country has dealt with this issue once before.) It will be a long and lonely road for sane Republicans as they work to salvage some scrap of dignity for their party.
Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of otherwise perfectly innocent people will be needlessly profiled, targeted and harassed. Tens of thousands of families will face separation of husbands from wives, mothers from sons and brothers from sisters.
To be sure the politics at play here are interesting in a morbid partisan sense but the morality of it all is sickening.
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