On April 20, 2010, Arizona’s legislature approved an immigration bill that makes it a state crime to be in Arizona without documents. As of this posting the governor has not yet signed it into law. J.D. Hayworth, opposing John McCain in a tough Republican senatorial primary, strongly supports it. McCain, a member of the “Gang of Fourteen” in the Senate, half Democrats and half Republicans which proposed comprehensive immigration reform several years ago, recently asked President Obama to send troops to help control the border, following the murder of an Arizona rancher.
The Mexican government, naturally, denounced the proposed law, charging the Arizona legislature with “racial profiling.” More to the point, opponents of the measure might sue in federal court on the grounds that immigration policy is a matter for the federal, not state, government. Pressed by Arizona, the Obama administration may feel compelled to deal with immigration reform sooner than it had planned.
I propose a simple thought experiment to evaluate the motives of those for and against comprehensive immigration reform. Suppose the vast majority of illegal immigrants were Asians, largely from China, rather than Hispanics from Mexico, Central America, and South America. Would Republicans and/or Democrats advocate comprehensive reform that includes a path to citizenship? If not, why not?