EDITORIAL: High court immigration decision a signal to voters this fall

16

As if there weren’t enough keystone election issues making this year’s presidential, congressional and state legislature elections critical choices for voters, the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on immigration makes the election in 2012 a game changer.

It has to be the next Congress and the next White House administration to enact real immigration reform. It certainly won’t come from the current politically-stalled U.S. House and Senate.

The Supreme Court in its decision this week on Arizona’s ill-fated immigration law made clear that the issue of immigration belongs to the federal government. It means that those in Arizona rightfully upset by Congress’ inability to act on illegal immigration can’t take the matters into their own hands, as Arizona tried to do. Aurora voters need to scrutinize the current crop of congressional and state legislature candidates on this and similar issues. Those who insist on impractical, inhumane and impossible rhetoric need to be discarded. This issue is too important, and inaction is no longer an option.

Aurora police have made it clear they cannot enforce immigration law, because it endangers the entire community.

Illegal and even legal Hispanic immigrants will avoid police at all costs if cops are de-facto immigration officers, meaning they won’t call the cops when they know about a crime or even if they’re victims of a crime. It won’t take long before criminals figure this out and start targeting Hispanics for robberies and rapes, knowing that most won’t dare to call police for fear of being deported. But just as important, immigrants will start living underground lives, minimizing their contact with the rest of the community. An illegal immigrant involved in even a minor traffic accident will likely run from the scene, rather than take a chance of being deported.

Immigration matters are hugely time consuming, sapping police of resources needed to fight real crime.

State lawmaker candidates who insist on forcing this issue onto local police should be disqualified by voters from holding office.

Likewise, congressional immigration reform must be practical and realistic. Inflamed by election-year and Tea Party rhetoric, many conservatives are moving with their populist base toward a demand to try to oust the 12 million or so illegal immigrants in the country and even attempt to rewrite the 14th Amendment, which allows anyone born in the United States to claim citizenship.

On the other side is a majority of Americans, businesses and legislators who want comprehensive reform, some modicum of earned-amnesty for at least some immigrants, and a system that prevents future undocumented residents from flooding the country.

Conservatives are talking out of both sides of their mouths on this issue. They must now answer not only to cold-hearted and irrational anti-immigration fanatics like former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, but they must also answer to corporate America, which bankrolls conservative campaigns and has a critical need for the cheap labor illegal immigrants provide.

The middle road is the only answer. Rather than piecemeal more ineffective legislation, Congress must re-examine plans similar to the McCain-Kennedy measure, which sought to humanely, wisely and effectively deal with the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. More importantly, it sought to deal with giving businesses accurate tools to ensure prospective employees are either citizens or have valid work credentials. Comprehensive reform addresses the very real need for labor supplied by these illegal immigrants, and it allows the United States to ensure that the entire country is safe, rather than just the borders. It’s that kind of real reform Americans want, not xenophobic dramatics.