Thousands of protesters gathered at Tea Party rallies across the nation earlier this month to speak out against the newly enacted Obamacare legislation. Many specifically focused on what they called an unprecedented and oppressive mandate that would fine citizens who failed to purchase healthcare. Yet, the Tea Partiers were generally dismissed by the media, politicians and even the President as “racist” or worse.
Over the weekend, thousands of protesters gathered in Phoenix to speak out against newly enacted legislation designed to address illegal immigration in Arizona. Many specifically focused on what they called an unprecedented and oppressive mandate that would allow law enforcement to check suspects’ citizenship status. Yet, unlike the Tea Partiers, this time the media, many politicians and even the President seemed to side with the protesters. Speaking at a White House naturalization ceremony, Obama said “the recent efforts in Arizona… threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.” Referring to the legislation again, the president noted, “Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others.”
So, according to Obama, forcing citizens to purchase health insurance or risk a paying stiff fine is justified and even a moral good, yet trying to determine whether non-citizens are indeed such, undermines “basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans” even for non-Americans?
Obama calls Arizona’s recent efforts “irresponsible,” but to his credit notes the “failure to act responsibly at the federal level.” Failure indeed. Constitutionally, border enforcement and regulation of citizenship is a federal responsibility, something even the president acknowledges. What could be more “irresponsible” than government’s failure to keep an estimated 12 to 20 million illegal aliens from entering the country, something the Feds not only continue to ignore but encourage with promises of amnesty? In a state where an estimated 600,000 illegal aliens operate undisturbed, what correctives is Arizona supposed to pursue? Is it not laughable that federal officials would now insist that citizenship issues are not in a state’s legal purview?
A quick reading of the new law reveals that police are not allowed to simply stop people they believe to be illegal aliens, but once a suspect is in custody or being questioned for another crime, those suspected of being in the country illegally could now be asked to produce a driver’s license or other evidence of citizenship. This isn’t much unlike what federal immigration officials might do, if they were to ever feel any pressure from their superiors to actually do their jobs. Critics suggest that the Arizona legislation might encroach upon civil liberties or open up the state to multiple lawsuits, something that may or may not be true and remains to be seen. What does not remain to be seen is whether Arizona had any choice but to take this matter into their own hands given the gravity of the problem in their state and the gross dereliction of duty by the federal government. In signing the legislation, Arizona governor Jan Brewer seemed to be saying, what else are we supposed to do? While the federal government and its apologists seem to be saying and even demanding of Arizona-just sit there and take it.