2 min read
Posted on 04.28.10
  • 2 min read
  • Posted on 04.28.10

President Barack Obama has asked the US Justice Department to examine the implications of Arizona's new immigration law. I think that the law is probably a Constitutional mistake; it is certainly bad public policy. As often as I have complained about decisions of the Missouri General Assembly, not even our state's legislature has managed to pass a law this unfortunate. Immigration is one of the country's strengths - and always has been. Your parents/grandparents/great grandparents, my grandparents ... they were immigrants to this city ... from a dozen countries. The New York Times recently mentioned the vital role of immigrants in the St. Louis economy. And has anybody looked at the Cardinals or Blues rosters lately? The new Arizona law requires immigrants in that state to carry documents verifying their status; and it requires local police officers in Arizona to question people about their immigration status if the officers have "reasonable suspicion" that they might lack legal documentation. It seems a too-short (and absolutely inevitable) step to from "reasonable suspicion" to questions based on skin color, language, accent, nationality, surname, or association. I have written here several times before that immigration reform - particularly changes to a system that sometimes makes it difficult to address issues of violence and crime -- is an important federal issue. Until the Congress takes the matter up, bad laws like Arizona's - or Valley Park's - will be passed by local legislatures to address it themselves.