By: Wayne Brown
The recent debacle stemming from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico brought the issue of States Rights once again to the forefront of discussion. Most Americans do not see it as such but this is really the basis for the conflict which ensued during this disaster. In this case, each state had some idea how they wanted to handle the problems which the oil spill was causing for their coast line. These concerns ran the gambit from environment issues to the financial damage threatened by a drastic decrease in tourism.
Each state moved on their own to remedy these concerns and in most of the cases eventually ran afoul of the Federal Government and the control that it tends to exercise through tentacles associated with environment, international borders and waters, and the use of the Jones Act. States argued their individual dilemma only to be frustrated by the barring of their actions and further enraged by a slow reaction on the part of the Federal Government to act at all.
The same may be said for the immigration situation currently playing out in Arizona and for that matter, playing out to some extent in all border states. Although the southern borders between the USA and Mexico have always been somewhat poreous, the grave consequences of 9/11 along with the increase in drug wars, drug and human trafficking, and the general flow of criminal elements have driven the Arizona situation to a level which the citizens of the state can no longer bear.
Officials of the State of Arizona felt compelled to address the issue and have attempted to do so by enacting a state law for enforcement that shadows the laws set forth to be enforced by the Federal Government. The bottom-line in this situation is that although there are Federal Laws on the books to enforce, the Federal Government is not putting the finances or potential resources behind those laws that would allow an efficient enforcement process.
The Obama Administration has further elected to stop all work associated with building border fences and has eased pressures on inspecting potential employers of illegal immigrants by almost 75% since taking office. From the Federal perspective, it’s business as usual along the southern border of Arizona.
Thus we have a “State’s Right” debate in that the Federal Government claims responsibility for securing the borders via the United States Constitution and Arizona points out that the Federal Government is failing at that enforcement. Essentially, the Federal Government is thumbing its nose at Arizona while at the same time attempting to compel the state to do nothing with regard to immigration enforcement. The Governor of Arizona has requested use of the National Guard on a scale that would raise the potential security of the border. The Obama Administration initially indicated that it would provide 1200 National Guard troops to assist and then eventually only provided approximately half that commitment on a gradual growth to strength basis. Ultimately, Arizona sees the response as too little too late.
Other states watch this debate closely. Some states such as California and New Mexico have already made their position clear on the issue and have for all practical purposes sided with the Federal Government’s position. For New Mexico, this is a rather easy position to take but California is reeling in potential government bankruptcy from the impact of illegal immigration and the weight of overloaded social programs thus their decision is not seen as a rational one.
Arizona is seeing boycott pressures applied by various states and organizations bent on leverage the state’s acceptance of the Federal position. Arizona is spending heavily out of state coffers to fund efforts to deal with the impact of illegal immigration while at the same time spending even more state money to fight the debate over essential a “States Rights” issue in the Federal Court system.
By taking a look back through history, the situation as it stands in Arizona will likely follow the road that other arguments in “States Rights” have followed. The most recent of course, and the one that associates most closely with the illegal immigration issue is that of civil rights battles that occurred in the 1960’s and 70’s. These confrontations between state and federal governments revolved around the issue of segregation but ultimately played against the back drop of “States Rights”.
As we see from history, in almost every case the court system sided with the Federal Government overriding the states claims and enforcement. Much of this outcome can be credited to the scope of control given the Federal Government under Article 10 of the Constitution thus some on the courts see the outcome as predetermined by the Constitution. This certainly appears to be a strong general argument but does not answer the query as to what states should and can do when the Federal Government fails to act effectively.
It is one thing to look at the issue of “States Rights” as it pertains to the facts of law and the rule of law within the structure of this union. It is quite another to look at it from a political perspective and one of leverage in terms of crafting and enacting legislation which favors the outcome desired by particular political groups.
In the case of the Gulf oil spill, the actions of the Federal Government and those elected to direct them played heavily to the environmental and union lobbies of the country. There was no attempt whatsoever to relax environmental enforcements or to ease laws such as the Jones Act in light of damage that might be far greater in potential than the enforcement of these standards. Laws are designed to protect people, not tie their hands in times of disaster.
In the case of Arizona, the political fallout rest on the division between those wanting “comprehensive immigration reform", as desired by the Obama Administration, and those who are in favor of establishing border security first, which is a majority of the American people by statistical sampling. In a rational world, one might think that the Federal Government would see that the majority desires a secure border and take actions in that direction. That does not seem to be the desire or direction of the Obama Administration as it uses the promise of border security as a leverage to achieve “comprehensive immigration reform”, whatever that is under their definition.
The Obama Administration attempts to point out to the citizens of America that it is impossible to secure the border without first getting the reforms that are necessary in place. Now, what might those reforms actually be? No one seems to really be able to explain that aspect nor how it ties into currently securing our southern border. There is certainly political advantage in seeking reform in that at the very least reform offers a promise of “deferred adjudication” to the 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants already in this country at best estimates. It potentially offers a larger voting block that could very easily be swayed to the liberal leaning as this is the side that is seen as looking out for their “rights” whatever that might be.
Reform indicates that things need to be changed. Let’s see, we have immigration laws that spell out the path to citizenship and the requirements to legally become a citizen of the USA. But, wait, they might be too tough and require people to learn about English and its use; to pledge allegiance to the flag and the country; to desire citizenship and association with the principles and desires of true Americans. No doubt, much too difficult in light of the need to stuff ballot boxes with a liberal block of votes. Reform is a transparency that is not going to serve the Obama Administration well with any rational thinker in this country.
In the end, the liberal sect of America and the Obama Administration per se sees a sliding voter base with many dangers lurking. Black America is beginning to gain an economic foothold in this country. Many black Americans are not longer accepting “group think” or reacting to “racial baiting” in their actions at the voters booth. They, like most other Americans, are beginning to see the tax and spend ideology and the growing socialism associated with the liberal left in this country. They are intelligently exercising their own intelligence at the polls and slowly moving to a more conservative voting block in the USA.
In truth, the liberal left must have a new “voting block” of poor, uninformed, and down-trodden people in this country on which they can depend to continue their efforts in taking America to its “socialist destiny”. The immigration issue along our southern borders play to that need like 3-4 musical time plays to a good waltz. Obama and company will continue efforts to resist border security and to gain reform with this outcome in mind.
Herein lies the problem and “States Rights” is just an unfortunate irritant to the inevitable outcome in Obama’s mind and in the minds of many currently serving in our Congress who depend heavily on the liberal left voting block. This effort to establish Federal Supremacy in every walk of life in America will increase and increase and increase as long as there exists a broad enough liberal voting block to keep these people in office to pursue their socialist agendas. America has a line drawn in the sand down in Arizona. Which side of it will you stand on?
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