A Misguided Decision

Across the country, the debate rages on over the Obama administration’s decision to file suit against the state of Arizona over its recently passed immigration legislation.  The President has called the law “misguided.”  Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano dismissed the law as “bad law enforcement.”  Attorney General Eric Holder fears the law will lead to racial profiling, and countless politicians and civil rights activists have condemned the measure as a thinly-veiled smokescreen for racism.

Amidst such a cloud of inflammatory rhetoric, its easy to lose sight of the most troubling issue at play in this battle between the federal government and one of its member states – that is, the gross abuse of constitutional authority at play at the White House and Justice Department.

Imagine for a moment that you are a property owner whose neighborhood has been repeatedly victimized by acts of trespassing, theft, murder, and other forms of criminal violence.  You and your neighbors have had your property vandalized, your possessions stolen, and members of your family have been threatened and in some cases physically harmed.  For months, heck, for years, you and your neighbors have repeatedly contacted local law enforcement authorities to report the crimes against your property, and for years you have been told that help is on the way.  But help never comes.  The police say they have the matter under control; they say that the security of your person and property is their top priority, and yet they continue to do nothing in the face of the growing menace.  It slowly becomes clear that you and your neighbors have been abandoned.  The police aren’t coming to help you, they don’t have the problem under control, and by all indications there is little chance that this state of affairs is going to change anytime soon.

Suffice it to say, such a scenario would only go on so long before you and your neighbors became desperate.  Overcome by frustration and growing fear and convinced of no other options, neighborhood residents decide to take matters into their own hands in order to protect themselves.

In such a situation, it wouldn’t seem unreasonable for the residents to take legal action against the police department.  After all, the police’s primary reason for existence is to protect the people from assaults on their persons and property.  But no!  Instead of the people, whose lives have been threatened and property damaged, suing the police, the police announce they are bringing suit against the residents for illegally usurping the role of law enforcement.  “If your lives and property are being threatened,” so the argument goes, “the only entity legally authorized to protect you is us, the police.  Whether or not we choose to actually protect you is irrelevant; you have no right to take action on your own behalf.”

Such a scenario is ludicrous, yet this is exactly what’s happening in Arizona.  The citizens of the state have been living under the siege of illegal immigration for years.  What for most of us is an abstract political or humanitarian issue is for Arizonans a daily battle to protect life, property, and vital resources.  The recent passage of bold new immigration legislation was the people’s way of saying they’d had enough.  For too long they’d waited for the federal calvary to come, and for too long the infamous Poobahs of the Potomac did nothing – bickering and dickering and dithering while the citizens struggled against a growing wave of illegal immigration.  And in response to Arizona’s recent attempt to protect itself, these self-important, self-serving do-nothings are suing!  “It’s our job to secure the borders and prosecute illegal immigration” they say. “This is our area of authority, and you have no legal right to defend yourselves, regardless of whether we choose to defend you or not.”

By suing the state of Arizona for “unconstitutionally” passing immigration legislation, the federal government is tacitly acknowledging its dereliction of duty – they have admitted that there is a dangerous and dire problem along America’s southern border that they aren’t addressing.  But instead of fulfilling their constitutional obligation to protect the victims of illegal immigration, they are victimizing them twice over by prosecuting them for daring to try to protect themselves.

Not only is this a gross example of federal bureaucratic arrogance run amok, it is a severe assault on the Constitution and our republic.  Despite what the President and his Attorney General might choose to believe, the issue of illegal immigration is not merely political – it is a grave matter of national security.  The recent passage of immigration legislation in Arizona wasn’t a “misguided” act motivated by racism, it was a desperate act of self-defense.

The consequences of the federal government’s choice to sue one of its states in this manner will not be minimal.  Hopefully the people of Arizona will prevail in their battle to protect their borders and their property.  Other states are poised to follow suit.  When all is said and done, it’s likely that it will be the President, not the people of Arizona, who was guilty of making a misguided decision.

Ken Connor


Ken Connor is the Chairman of the Center for a Just Society. An esteemed attorney, Connor is affiliated with the law firm of Marks, Balette, & Giessel, a firm nationally known for its successful representation of victims of nursing home abuse and neglect.

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  • fatherjo

    As a Catholic priest, pastor of a parish in Arizona, I can tell you from experience that many good Catholic families are suffering a great deal because of this state’s “tough, new immigration law”. I think this legislation places many immigrants in the same category as the unborn child, who also has no legal standing under our laws, and therefore is fair game for any and all who wish to see him or her eradicated. I think we are establishing a dangerous precedent here, one that may come back to haunt us in the not-too-distant future. Any of us could be declared “illegal”, for having the wrong beliefs, or perhaps for not having a license to be born. We could be seen as disposable too, and be disposed of like the “illegal” alien, or the unborn child.

  • c-kingsley

    Can you give examples of how people are suffering because of this law? I’m puzzled, because I was under the impression that it was only just about to go into effect.

    Is the suffering different than what might be happening if the Federal government enforced its own laws?

    Would they be suffering because of our actions if they had obeyed our laws in the first place?

    Some of my children are immigrants. I believe legal immigration should be easier and illegal immigration should be harder. Laws should be enforced or changed, not just ignored, and definitely not just enforced at the whim of the enforcer!

  • fatherjo

    Many feel it necessary to relocate. Others are suffering from anxiety about the future. Don’t forget that many are here legally. Many are American citizens, born in this country. Others are here with valid green cards. There may be only one person here without documentation: the wife who is also the mother. She is the heart of the family. She stands to be deported under strict enforcement of the new law.

  • Steve

    Dear Fr. I respectfully ackowledge that these are not easy issues. For example my father-in-law employs two illegals to help him with building projects(I don’t condone this), but I know these men as individuals and not just statistics. These men have been attacked by the legals on several occasions because they feel they cannot go to the authorities. Of course what all this is starting to lead to is gangs that protect one group from another. The laws have been in place, but have not been enforced. I think we should give Arizonian’s the opportunity and all of us need see how this plays out before the “smart” people in Washington rush in to the rescue. It seems that you have justice in your heart, but I can’t help think that Washington is more concerned about the politics than the people.