In 1776 nations leaders weren't wimps
Arizona Republic
Jul. 4, 2007

It's official. Arizona has declared war on the forces that fuel illegal immigration. No longer are our leaders content to blame the sum total of our ills on the poor guy who sneaks across the border to get a job.

Now, Republicans and Democrats alike are pointing squarely at the people who lure them: the employers.

Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall inside Arizona's construction and restaurant industries this week? I have a good idea what people in those industries are saying.

It's probably a lot like what the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is saying. For years, chamber lobbyists have fought any attempt to hold employers accountable, all the while contending that most businesses try to follow the law.

The headline on their press release Monday? "Employer-sanctions bill strikes a crippling blow to Arizona business." I'm not sure how a bill that penalizes employers who "knowingly" hire an illegal immigrant deals a crippling blow to business when most businesses are already trying to follow the law. Draw your own conclusions.

The point remains that Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, and the GOP-controlled Legislature have now gone where the feds fear to tread.

It strikes me that the Fourth of July is a good day to ponder that fact.
This is a country founded by great and courageous men, based on bedrock principles of fairness and equality.

What we seem to have today are wimps and wannabes who spend most of their time with a wet finger in the air and who are more interested in career than country.

Two hundred and thirty-one years ago, our leaders brought us the Declaration of Independence. Last week, our leaders in Congress brought us a declaration of incompetence. They can't figure out what to do about illegal immigration so they're punting until 2009.

Meanwhile, the Homeland Security chief says, "We don't really have the ability to enforce the law with respect to illegal work in this country in a way that's truly effective."

And so it falls to the states to take the lead, in hopes that the feds will grow a spine and fix the problem. Because the solutions won't make anyone completely happy.

No. 1: Get control of the border ASAP. Fix it so people we've deported stay deported.

No. 2: Once we have control, legalize those who were here before Jan. 1, 2006, and can prove it with something other than a phony affidavit. They would need a clean criminal record, pay a fine and learn English. We, in turn, would acknowledge that it's amnesty but recognize we had a hand in their arrival. At least, our employers did.

No. 3: Create a tamperproof ID card and put employers on notice that if they're caught with ineligible workers, they're in big trouble. A fine equal to whatever per capita cost we can attach to illegal immigration sounds about right.

No. 4: Establish a guest-worker plan that's fair to the American worker, who will do most jobs, I suspect, if they pay a decent wage.

And No. 5: Pass the DREAM Act now. This is America, and in America we don't punish people for crimes they didn't commit. So give a break to those who came as kids and have stayed out of trouble. Give them a shot at a decent education and who knows? They might actually contribute to this country, which is all they're asking.

Many people today are cheering the death of the Senate's immigration-reform bill. I'm one of them. It was unwieldy and unenforceable.

But the answer isn't to punt because it's too hard. Where would we be today had a group of real leaders punted in 1776?

Reach Roberts at (602) 444-8635.