The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

April 23, 2010
Will Arizona law boost immigration overhaul effort?

Leading Democrats, civil rights groups and advocacy groups quickly assailed a new Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration.

But the question is: Will all that outrage strengthen the political will to tackle comprehensive reform of America's broken immigration system?

President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi certainly talked like it today.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed the bill, which makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally and requires police officers to question people about their immigration status if they suspect they are undocumented. She stared down critics and hundreds of protestors, who said that innocent persons' civil rights would be trampled. She vowed not to tolerate racial profiling and announced an executive order to increase training of law officers to prevent it. But she also blamed Washington for not acting and allowing an "unacceptable" situation to fester.

But before Brewer's event, Obama called the bill "misguided" and said he was instructing the Justice Department to look at whether it is legal.

He has been under fire from some Latino advocacy groups and others for not pushing immigration reform more aggressively. He supports a reform that includes a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants if they pay fines, learn English and pass a criminal background check -- a proposal similar to the bill that then-President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts failed to get through Congress in 2006.

Since, the issue has become untouchable for many Republicans and Democrats, who say that until the U.S.-Mexico border is fully secured, there can be no reform.

Obama said today that the Arizona law shows the need for national reform.

"The new law in Arizona is a reminder of the need for urgent, bipartisan action at the federal level to enact comprehensive immigration reform to secure our borders, keep our nation safe, uphold the rule of law, protect our workers and our economy, unite families, and provide a pathway to legalization," agreed Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat.

"Our nation has been sustained and strengthened by immigrants from generation to generation and that is why today's action in Arizona is misguided and irresponsible," she said in a statement. "Families have come to the United States hoping for a better life and striving for a brighter future. We must do everything in our power to build on that tradition by passing comprehensive immigration reform and ensuring our nation's cherished civil rights."

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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