No Trespassing

Who says all politicians are corrupt, dimwitted hose-bags?

Not this counterfeit canary, at least not since Governor Janet Napolitano's veto of a bill that would have made illegal immigrants subject to the state's criminal trespassing law. (In a letter to Republican Arizona House Speaker Jim Weiers, she's vowed to veto a second version of the bill, which was in the works at press time for this column, if the GOP dopes on the ropes continue taking their irrational hard line.)

The Bird's nailed Janet in the past for courting neo-conservative favor; for painting herself as tough on border security but doing little to back up that claim. But this time, this foul fowl can't help but heap kudos on La Napolitano for quashing this bill, which was passed by the Legislature but never should have made it as far as Janet's desk.

The bill was a cheap shot by lawmakers that ultimately would have had no effect on illegal immigration, but would have crowded our already overcrowded jails and made for heaps of extra work for local cops. And whaddaya know? Janet actually listened when cops complained about doing more work for the same amount of money.

The bill would have empowered state and local law enforcement officers to arrest illegal immigrants, willy-nilly, because without the proper documentation, they'd have been "trespassing" on our hallowed Arizona ground. Picture our already maxed-out coppers stopping brown-skinned people in malls and markets, and asking for proof that they were entitled to be here. Then imagine the hue and cry from race-relations activists. Not pretty.

"I was very pleased that the governor vetoed this bill," said Latino activist Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state senator who ran for governor himself in 2002. "Even though she waited 'til the last minute to veto it, I've been publicly thanking her for doing so. It's too bad that she's going to be tested again and again before the end of the session, because there will be an escalation of this kind of bill for a while now."

Even U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, a Neanderthal when it comes to civil rights issues, criticized the bill. He rightly asserted that it won't stop illegal immigration. Although fans of the bill claimed it would bolster Border Patrol workers by allowing cops to pitch in and haul off illegals caught crossing the border (or wandering through Wal-Mart), there was no concession to pay local law enforcement for the additional workload.

If Janet hadn't stopped this nonsense, our boys and girls in blue would've wound up devoting a good portion of their day to questioning Hispanic types (read: the majority of the people in Phoenix these days) rather than doing their job, which presumably is to protect our communities against such as murderers, rapists, armed robbers and meth dealers.

And how about the fact that it isn't the job of local police to enforce federal immigration law?

There's no way the Legislature will override Janet's veto, because the bill passed 17-12 in the Senate and 33-27 in the House, and an override would require 20 votes in the Senate and 40 in the House. And that's a good thing, because although the bill threatened illegals with up to six months of jail time, it didn't allocate money to the already overcrowded, underfunded county jails that would have to house our friendly visitors.

Crazy old Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "solution" -- prop up more tents across the desert to house the additional offenders -- makes about as much sense as his "let's humiliate 'em with pink underwear" hoo-ha.

Joe's GOP pals in the Legislature think that such a bill would encourage immigrants to either stay home where they belong or never head for the border in the first place. Right-wing nut-jobs, especially the likes of Joe and Speaker Weiers, are always claiming that tough-on-crime policies reduce recidivism, when there's absolutely no evidence of that. As long as people are starving in Mexico, Mexicans will keep coming -- no matter what kind of immigration policy the United States winds up enacting.

The Bird must again give kudos to President George W. Bush for insisting that Congress work toward legalizing the Mexican immigrants who are already here, and consider a guest-worker program for those who might come. This fake falcon would like to believe that Bush's being altruistic, but he probably only realizes that the economy of the Southwest would go under without illegal aliens to man, for instance, the construction industry that his campaign-contributor developer buddies are operating. And if development goes under in a city like Phoenix, so does the economy.

In any case, kudos to the guv for having the good sense to continue bashing the legislative Republican right-wingers. She has made their idiot agenda a non-factor during this legislative session. High time! Keep kicking them while they're down.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela