The Arizona immigration law

The law targets the wrong people, will solve nothing, and probably lead to increased violence from all sides. But this is more than just racism or xenophobia. In my view, people there are getting scared.

The murder of rancher Robert Krentz on his border ranch, almost certainly by drug smugglers, was the precipitating event that led to the passage of the law. The area is known for smuggling, and his brother had recently reported activity leading to the arrest of eight smugglers after 300 lbs. of marijuana was found on the ranch. Krentz was shot in his ATV while speeding away from the scene and his guns had not been fired. In other words, it was cold blooded murder. Maybe even revenge.

Marc Cooper

Arizona and other local and state governments are taking action on immigration because Congress has failed to enact comprehensive immigration reform that restores border security, provides a flexible visa program to meet business and family needs, and deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. This is a federal issue and must be handled by Congress immediately before other states start to follow Arizona’s lead.

As the federal government continues to hollow out and is unable to do what it should, states and private groups, for better or worse, will do it for them. This is an ongoing process. As an example, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the first support teams on the ground were not the government. Rather it was Blackwater (hired by the rich to guard their homes) and Wal-Mart (who to their huge credit just filled trucks with supplies and sent them there, sometimes over the protests of local police.)

Voids will be filled.

Anti-immigrant border watch group in AZ forming ‘private military company’

Really, no surprise here. Combining elements like tough economic times with widening wealth disparity, and hysterical, fear-mongering demagogues, who go unchecked by a negligent political party, can really only end one way — violence.

I’m sure there are unapologetic racists within these militia movements, who get their jollies from terrorizing frightened Mexicans, but I also think there are just a lot of scared, poor, desperate citizens searching for purpose right now. They’ve lost faith in everything: the government, their ordained child molesters, the idea of societal security (pensions, jobs, work safety, etc.) But that fear is manifesting in terrible threats and the formation of radical groups like the Cochise County Militia.

This country needs a sane discussion of what to do here. Not more left and right screaming at each other.


  1. The problem is that all the stupid laws that have been passed and will be passed are useless. It doesn’t matter how high the wall, how dry the desert, how long the trudge. The Mexican people will keep coming because no matter how bad it is here, it is better than there. They love their country and their families but they can’t survive there. If they could have the opportunities in Mexico that they get here – they would stay there. You don’t have to be a genius to figure this out – when illegals are interviewed – that is what they say. They need schools for all children and jobs and infrastructure. Yes the big cities have this but Mexico City is to the rest of Mexico like NYC is to the rest of NY – the vampire sucking up all the money and resources. Even there they have problems – when a 40 year old engineer has to drive a taxi to survive because the big companies are only hiring good looking 20 somethings – there is a problem. Mexico needs to dig itself out but between the corruption, discrimination and ineptitude – it isn’t going to happen any time soon. Arizona has gone back to the wild west. You don’t need papers for the concealed heat but you have to have them for your body. The really hypocritical thing is that the repubs are in charge here and they are the ones who say they want government to back off and stay out of peoples lives and yet they passed this big government, big brother communist type of bill.

    • Parts of Mexico now are extremely dangerous too, and it’s getting worse. The US Congress needs to get its head out if its posterior and pass genuinely effective immigration reform. Or the paramilitaries will increase on the border.

  2. I don’t think you can divorce this from the economy. In times of high unemployment, anger at immigrants increases because of the (not incorrect) perception that immigrants are getting jobs that might otherwise be done by Americans.

    An American has to get pretty darned hungry to pick strawberries for minimum wage– but in the economy, some folks ARE that hungry.

  3. In these discussions I rarely hear anyone discussing what I see as one major solution: repeal of NAFTA. It has been responsible for the undercutting of local Mexican economies which in turn drives people to migrate in order to just survive.

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