US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Arizona governor meets with Obama

By Father Tom Joyce, CMF | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the controversial law allowing police to detain anyone without proper papers, met with President Barack Obama. They have both called the immigration system "broken," but they seem to have divergent strategies to deal with it. Obama calls the Arizona law "misguided"; Brewer didn't hesitate to sign it. Still, they pledge to work together to find a solution (see Arizona Republic).

What gave the final push to the passage of the Arizona law was fear of crime from the undocumented crossing the border and dessert. Yet ironically the border cities - including Phoenix - are among the most crime-free cities in America. Police and border patrol personnel are less likely to meet with violence than the police who walk the streets of other cities. The border chiefs of police have already testified to that and now FBI statistics do (see Associated Press).

Yet "fact" in the immigration debate is often in the eye of the beholder. Brewer came to the oval office convinced that the growing frustration with federal inaction on immigration was "intolerable"--another reason Arizona took action on its own. She also pressed the president to send more than 1,200 National Guard to the border. Here the president may be receptive. Critics argue it would be neither effective nor necessary to further militarize our border.

The whole idea of the Arizona law did not come out of an immediate crisis at the border. The recession has slowed the flow of migrants. The law was long percolating among anti-immigrant groups like FAIR - Federation for American Immigration Reform. Their intent is not just to stop the flow of illegal immigrants. They would be happy to see all immigration slow to a trickle of the right kind of people. The brain behind the Arizona law was Kris Kobach who has worked in the Bush administration and for FAIR. The basis of his law is ideology rather than fact (see Arizona Republic).