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The Presidents and the Arizona Law
Neither President Obama nor the president of Mexico has a legitimate objection to Arizona's attempt to control illegal immigration.


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William J. Bennett

We’ve pretty much had it with the attacks on Arizona and the self-debasement of our country by the president. We are the United States and Arizona is our soil, part of our country. Lately, however, there’s been too much denigration of Arizona from the White House, and too much tearing down of Arizona for a law that is — if anything — more liberal than the federal law.

Yesterday, we saw it again when Mexican president Felipe Calderón and the president spoke jointly, and jointly critically, at the White House. The New York Times headline sums it up: “Obama & Calderón Decry Ariz. Immigration Law.”

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Here’s the president yesterday, with Calderón at his side:

We also discussed the new law in Arizona, which is a misdirected effort — a misdirected expression of frustration over our broken immigration system, and which has raised concerns in both our countries. . . . And I want everyone, American and Mexican, to know my administration is taking a very close look at the Arizona law. We’re examining any implications, especially for civil rights. Because in the United States of America, no law-abiding person — be they an American citizen, a legal immigrant, or a visitor or tourist from Mexico — should ever be subject to suspicion simply because of what they look like.

For his part, Calderón then said this, standing next to the president:

In Mexico, we are and will continue being respectful of the internal policies of the United States and its legitimate right to establish in accordance to its Constitution whatever laws it approves. But we will retain our firm rejection to criminalize migration so that people that work and provide things to this nation will be treated as criminals. And we oppose firmly the S.B. 1070 Arizona law given its principles that are partial and discriminatory.

There is a lot to say about this — and we shall say it now. Allowing the running down of a part of the United States by the head of a foreign government, at the White House, standing next to the president — who not only didn’t challenge him, but encouraged him — is a foreign- and domestic-policy catastrophe. And in any catastrophe, one has to ask what were the conditions or causes that led to such a thing. Did the president tell Mr. Calderón ahead of time it would be okay to blast away at Arizona, which is to blast away at the United States? Or, less likely, was nothing said ahead of time and Mr. Calderón simply took note of the administration’s statements about Arizona thus far? Or, had Mr. Calderón simply observed over the past year not only President Obama and his administration’s take-down of Arizona but President Obama’s other attitudes about America, such as his bowing to foreign leaders and his calling America “arrogant,” “dismissive,” and “derisive” of our allies?

It took us twelve years of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush to overcome the low opinion of and in America that Jimmy Carter wrought in four years. As Jeanne Kirkpatrick said when Reagan came into office, the time of American being kicked around is over. Well, it’s back. So let’s take a scalpel to all of this, starting with Mexico.

Felipe Calderón has simply no business lecturing us, lecturing America, about our immigration policies. How does Mexico treat illegal immigrants? See Article 67 of Mexico’s General Population Law: “Authorities, whether federal, state or municipal . . . are required to demand that foreigners prove their legal presence in the country, before attending to any issues.” Now, the Arizona law, which we’ll get to in a moment, doesn’t even say this; there is no such language as “demand,” in Arizona.



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