While the effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate suffered a setback last week, supporters vowed to continue to pursue a compromise this term. Nevertheless, right-wing activists declared victory. Jed Babbin, editor of Human Events, said it was a “Miers Moment” for the Right, referring to the far Right’s successful campaign to undo Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Mark Krikorian praised a “vigilant citizenry” that “inundated” Senate offices, and Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum credited “overwhelming opposition to this amnesty bill.”
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said, “I think there were people dancing in the streets in cities across America [after the vote]. I hope I can see the tape of some of that someday.”
While the Right Wing claims that the people have spoken, as the New York Times points out, polls find broad public support for the Senate bill’s provisions. For example, about two thirds of Americans support legalization of undocumented immigrants, according to the most recent Washington Post-ABC poll – the very provision opponents decry loudly as amnesty.
The effort to pass comprehensive reform continues, but meanwhile, local politicians and activists are working to undermine it. Like national anti-immigrant figures, Butler County, Ohio Sheriff Richard K. Jones declared that “the ‘silent majority’ was heard after all by federal legislators.” We heard from Jones last year, as he ramped up his personal campaign against undocumented immigrants in his county – putting up billboards and newspaper ads implying grave consequences for hiring “an illegal,” and making mass arrests of Hispanic workers only to release them without charge.
Like his attempts to “bill” the Department of Homeland Security and Mexico for his police expenses supposedly related to immigrants, Jones’s freelance efforts to treat immigration violations as if they were felonies did not seem to accomplish more than a breakdown of police relations with the Hispanic community.
“Let’s create stricter state laws to go after employers who hire persons who are in this state illegally,” he said. “Also, let’s make English the official language of the state. Those who live in Ohio should know our language. Taxpayers should not have to pay for interpreters in schools, and U.S. citizens living here shouldn’t have to learn another language.” …
“If we would make it a crime to be in Ohio illegally and local law enforcement could charge offenders with that as a state criminal offense, then we probably could get the federal government to deport those offenders,” Sheriff Jones said. “Now is the time for Ohio to show the rest of the country how to deal with immigration problems.”
Lawmakers in other states have sought to make illegal aliens subject to arrest under state and local criminal-trespassing laws since U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Homeland Security agency responsible for deporting illegal aliens, generally does not respond to pick up illegals unless they have committed a crime.