Edward Schumacher-Matos has an op-ed in The Washington Post blaming the "extremists" who run the immigration debate for the deaths of illegal immigrants in the Arizona desert:
[Border-enforcement proponents have] the louder voice today, making [them] the bigger culprit, but the latter -- humanitarian groups, for one -- share in the blame. They seem not to find any enforcement policy they like, abandoning responsibility.
I assume Schumacher is including people like me in this critique, whom he characterizes as opposing "any enforcement policy" and thus "abandon[ing] responsibility." There is a meme among self-proclaimed reasonable "centrists" like Schumacher -- and that's that there's a pressing need to "secure our borders" and that those who care about immigrants, and think unmanned military drones along the border are unnecessary, are letting their hearts run their mind.
Of course it's not that anyone in the immigrant-rights movement opposes any enforcement; it's that, as I and many other commentators have pointed out, we have plenty. We've doubled the number of personnel on the border since 2004 and crime's been falling in the border region for years. It goes to show that the real reason moderates like Schumacher want to increase border enforcement has nothing to do with it being a good policy. This Schumacher freely admits:
A good place to begin is on the U.S.-Mexico border. The first of the 1,200 National Guard troops President Obama has ordered to the border arrive Aug. 1. The president should make a dramatic gesture and send as many as 10,000 more.
But, he concedes,
The gesture is mostly political -- the Guard is not trained for border patrolling -- but political action is what's needed now. This would reassure the American middle that the government is in control and give legislators the cover they need.
If deploying 10,000 members of the armed forces -- which, just so we're clear, is roughly five people for every mile of border -- just for show is responsible, count me out, even if it does "reassure the American middle." Sadly, playing on the pervasive and irrational fear of immigrants (and only certain types, mind you; no one's scared of Canadians) by advocating for "tough" border enforcement is exactly what some on the left have been doing, albeit for the purpose of convincing Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform. But you can see where indulging irrational public fear gets us: Arizona's SB 1070.
-- Gabriel Arana
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