A couple of weeks ago, right after the final Health Care Bill vote, I was asked by some friends and business colleagues what I thought the chances were for Congress to tackle immigration reform this year. I looked at them, laughed and said, “Are you kidding?”

After a brutal year-plus-battle over health care, the generation of an exercised, anti-government Tea Party movement and mid-term election just months away, I couldn’t fathom that anyone in Congress had the stomach, strength or political wherewithal to open up this can of worms. Regardless of what political prognosticators and TV pundits may say, to me this was a no-win issue for Democrats and Republicans and both sides would avoid it at all costs before November’s mid-term elections.

While the no-win issue has not changed, the political circumstances have changed dramatically since I made my initial statement some weeks back. The Arizona Governor’s signature last week of the toughest immigration bill in the country is literally forcing the hands of both political parties to skate on perilously thin ice in an election year when it comes to their political bases.

As stark and blunt as the Arizona legislation may be, it is a fundamental reaction to the failure of the federal government to address the immigration issue. While there have been noble attempts in the past, they have all crumbled under the politics of the day. As a result, a bad situation has only become worse. Fed up with Washington’s inability to get things done, Arizona has acted on its own to address the issue. As distasteful as many may find the Arizona law, the hard, cold truth is it’s hard to blame them for acting.  They have been on the front line of this issue for years, and with border violence escalating and spilling over into their own communities, legislators had little choice but to react.

And that’s the situation Washington finds itself in – it has to act. Continued ignorance and ineptitude in addressing these issues will no longer be tolerated by communities on the front lines. That’s the loud and clear message that Arizona has sent to Washington, and it is forcing this Congress and Administration to make some big choices before November 2.

In a game of high stakes political poker, Arizona has raised the stakes and is calling the cards of Democrats who are desperate to save their majorities and Republicans who don’t want to alienate generations of Hispanic voters for decades to come. This is the last thing either of them probably wanted at this juncture, but the cards have been laid out and Arizona has made its call.

Poker decisions when someone’s back is literally against the wall tend not to be comfortable things to watch. Cameras, spectators and of course opponents are literally watching for where the beads of sweat will appear and where a twitch may appear that gives the other side an indication of what cards you’re holding. Truth be told, regardless of perspiration and twitches, both political sides will lose in this game given the hands they’ve been dealt.

If Republicans go to adopt a tough Arizona-like stance against illegal immigration, they will be tarred by their opponents as racist xenophobes and they can probably write off generations of the Hispanic vote.

If Democrats decide to push for large-scale amnesty for illegal immigrants, they will be labeled as weak-kneed, anti-security, welfare-state harbingers and risk losing key voting blocks in moderate-to-conservative-leaning voters.

While both descriptions are sweeping generalizations, they crystallize the stakes of this high stakes game that will be played out in the next few weeks. Arizona has literally forced the hands in Washington and in the remaining 49 states to make a call. If you thought the health care debate was full of fury, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More
  • Brittanicus

    This unmatched chaos caused by decades of unimportance as seen by both political parties over illegal immigration. In this firestorm of an issue we need to enact immediately the following measures to stabilize our nation’s immigration enforcement. This is specifically come to the surface after the bloody murder of Robert Krentz, rancher and landowner, with the upsurge in deaths of border Patrol agents and illegal aliens. 1. Deploy the National Guard permanently–fully armed along the border from San Diego, CA to Brownville, Texas. 2. Make it a felony with prison time for any employer not using the computer application E-Verify, to identify all workers on the payroll. This program will improve nationwide impact of self-deportation by ATTRITION, over the coming years for unlawful labor. 3. To terminate decades of unprecedented billions of dollars of debt for support of illegal immigrants on taxpayers. Read what Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) has to say about what taxpayers are forced to pay for 20 to 30 million illegal immigrants at–THE DAILY CALLER WEBSITE.

    Reestablish the legality of instant citizenship to babies born to an illegal parent or parents in federal court. 4. Make absolutely sure that any incumbent of both parties, starting with Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is thrown out of office this year. Send this searing message to–ALL–pro illegal immigrant, Pro-amnesty politicians that America will not stand any longer lawmakers that are for sale to the highest bidder. 5. Those elected will re-fence the border as two separate barriers, with an open tracking area in between for the movement of National Guardsman accompanying the US Border patrol with full funding. That lawmakers who are supposedly there to represent every citizen and permanent resident possessing a green card, appropriate the money to seal the border from illegal entry. That these same elected officials have already spent $445 Billion dollars in taxpayer’s money in supporting some distant foreign government in Afghanistan; they therefore can easily appropriate funds for the correctly designed border fence.

    As a patriotic people we will voice our vehemence that we will join the war against any type of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. That contains in any shape or form a citizenship path, for those who stole into America. THERE WILL BE NO AMNESTY–NO PARDON FOR CRIMINALS WHO IGNORE OUR LAWS. We are not the financial, free-handout for foreign labor, which cannot support those entering America illegally. Arizona is the first state with a backbone that has been financial crippled by welfare payments to illegal alien families. Its undercurrent caused by the rising crime rate never seen to this extent before. Violence on a grand scale has flowed across the Rio Grande from the illicit drug industry. Exhaustion of the local police in Phoenix and other communities unable to handle the daily homicides, kidnappings, home invasions, predatory smuggling people and the narcotics trade.

    Any state, county city, town or public servant that boycotts the exceptional state of Arizona, should be black-listed. Hopefully–Americans will donate (however small) money to Arizona if the Governor Jan brewer gets sued. Perhaps a good patriotic American will arrange a website for everybody to give money in the immediate future? If and when it happens my check will be waiting…? If that happens Americans will boycott companies that hire illegal immigrants and that I will add–ONE–company hiring foreign labor to my blogs.

    NUMBERSUSA–is the website for the legal people of this country, so you can fight this illegal immigrant epidemic–with over a MILLION–members. We are here to tell the–TRUTH–not lies or well-honed rhetoric as the Far-Left liberals, hidden inside the Democratic Party, not from the Liberal editors of national press at the, Huffington Post, New York Times or the Los Angeles Times and others.