The reaction to the Arizona Immigration law has been outlandish. While there are legitimate civil liberties concerns, as there are with many laws, the use of terms such as racist and Nazi to describe the law went beyond the pale.
Eric Holder agrees that there is no racist motivation behind the law. In an interview with Jake Tapper, Holder described the law as follows:
Attorney General Eric Holder told me the controversial new Arizona immigration law is not racist, but he remains concerned the law could lead to racial profiling. In my “This Week” interview, Holder said, “I don’t think it’s racist in its motivation. But I think the concern I have is how it will be perceived and how it perhaps could be enacted, how it could be carried out. I think we could potentially get on a slippery slope where people will be picked on because of how they look as opposed to what they have done, and that is I think something that we have to try to avoid at all costs.”
This is a reasonable position for Holder to take. In fact, it is close to (but not precisely) my position.
The law is not racist. The law does raise the possibility of use of “characteristic appearance” beyond what is constitutionally permitted. The key is to make sure the law is not used to target people based on ethnicity or skin color or accent.
But these concerns do not justify junking the law, which substantively does little more than federal law now provides. The problem is that the federal government does not protect the border, leaving Arizona little choice but to act in the face of uncontrolled human and drug trafficking and gang violence.
I’m not happy that it has come to this, and I doubt many people in Arizona are happy either. But the failure to secure the border is the root cause.
Holder’s interview was a voice of reason on the issue from the administration. Let’s see how long it lasts.