Jon de Vos: If you’re in Arizona, don’t fall asleep in your tanning bed
Winter Park, CO Colorado
I graduated from Arizona State University. My alma mater’s biggest claim to fame is its frequency in the annual Playboy Poll of the Top Ten Party Schools.
Climate-wise, Arizona has always been a great place to live … in the winter. Over the years it’s grown and changed demographically as people crawl toward the light to slow the onset of death. In doing so, they’ve created a state where the age of the average winter resident matches the temperature of the average summer day. As Arizona seniors embrace the refuge of senility, they find themselves wrapping their arms around the Tea Party and other ultraconservative causes.
It’s no wonder Arizona passed a tough immigration law, considering the very real fear of rising violence from our southern neighbor. The law states: “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official … where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.”
The new law gives a very broad definition of who’s a law enforcement official, including anybody with a pistol and a lantern jaw. In short, the new rules mean that if you fell asleep in your tanning bed, you better carry proper documentation or you could unwittingly find yourself back at the pueblo.
Any lawful contact? That could mean stopping and asking someone what time it is and being surprised when they answer, “Yeah, it’s April 1957 and Lester Maddox is handing out ax handles to all his pals to keep black folks out of Georgia.”
The “Wall Mentality” seeks to preserve utopia by excluding foreigners. It hasn’t worked well throughout history. The Great Wall of China didn’t keep the infidels out, the Berlin Wall didn’t keep freedom out, and a Mexican Wall for the entire 2,000 miles probably won’t work either, despite costing about $4 billion to build. And that’s not to mention the cost to maintain.
Today there are more than 20,000 Border Patrol Agents. That works out to one agent for about every 500 feet for the whole length of the border. How many centuries will they have to stand there to keep those pesky aliens out?
One term for the Arizona law is “institutionalized racism.” A blue-eyed Caucasian isn’t going to have to prove his citizenship while a brown-eyed Hispanic is. But I feel bad for Arizona, they’re getting an undeserved black eye out of all this.
With an estimated 283,000 illegal residents, Arizona stands sixth on the list of states with the most illegal immigrants. Texas has more than a million, and California exceeds two million. Crossing-related deaths have risen to frightening proportions, but to Arizona’s dismay, three-quarters of the rise has happened in the Tucson sector of the border which includes most of the southern Arizona desert.
In any year out of the last 10, there have been between a million and some million-and-a-half arrests of persons attempting to cross the U.S. border. For all of that, an estimated half-million foreigners elude U.S. Immigration and illegally enter the U.S. every year. Four or five hundred of them die every year in the attempt, most of them in the desert between the border towns of Naco and Nogales.
The border between Mexico and the United States is 1,969 miles long through some of the most forlorn, godforsaken chunks of America, desolate canyons and arroyos, riddled and crosshatched with dirt roads and historic smuggling routes, hard to get around in, impossible to police.
Don’t blame Arizona, it’s the federal government that has turned its back on the problem of our porous southern border for nearly a hundred years since Arizona became a state in 1912. It’s well past time for a comprehensive federal policy that allows screened workers into the country and permits a carefully studied path to citizenship.
In the meantime, if you’re visiting Arizona, bulk up on the sunscreen.
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