Law > Politics and Prejudices
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Pot, pols and polls (10/6/2010)
War (on drugs) is over (9/29/2010)
News Hits gets punked (9/29/2010)
|More from Jack Lessenberry|
Shaming our state (10/6/2010)
Making real change (9/29/2010)
Bought and paid for (9/22/2010)
That's right. Harass the bastards first, of course. Illegal immigrants have ruined this country. They took all our jobs and wrecked the auto industry and are why I have bad teeth.
No doubt about it. Now, while I agree heartily with those sentiments, they aren't originally mine; they are based on something the great Lakota chief Sitting Bull said in 1876 or so.
Unfortunately, the First Peoples waited too long to address their illegal problem, which could have been handled nicely with a thousand warriors or so back in the 1620s. But they just kept coming, and if you know anything about those European whites, it's that they do only two things: Ruin the environment, and breed.
Well, as we know, the Native Americans waited too long. Kim Meltzer is determined that we won't make the same mistake. Meltzer is one of the greatest current political theorists to come out of an auto parts business in Macomb County, which her family owns.
Thanks to the tendency of term limits to disqualify people who are competent, she landed in the state House of Representatives a few years ago. Thanks to the fact that she is now desperate for another government job, she is now running for the state Senate, so that she can continue to be paid to attack government.
But she has a problem. Two other better-known right-wing government haters are clamoring to clamp on to the same state-funded tit. There's Jumpin' Jack Brandenburg, a former legislator who helped lead the drive to outlaw affirmative action a few years ago. And then there's the seriously daffy Leon Drolet, the guy who drives around Lansing towing a pink Fiberglas pig he calls "M. Perks." Drolet, now a Macomb County commissioner, has made a career of denouncing government from the safety of government jobs.
This presented Meltzer with a serious problem. True, she has bizarre hair, but beyond that, what could she do to compete with two better-known whack jobs? Then, just when she was facing a return to radiator hoses, it came to her. Be like Arizona.
Beat up on illegal immigrants! They are easy to blame, everyone hates them and they can't vote. Why, take your average 50-year-old guy with a high school education who lost his good-paying job working on the line ... and will never, ever, get it back.
Does he want to believe he lost his job because of a) the impact of globalization, the mistakes made by the domestic automotive industry in the past, various trade agreements and because his employers were saddled with huge legacy costs, or b) the goddamn illegal wetbacks took it?
Meltzer could figure that one out herself.
After all, she does have a bachelor's degree in poly-sci from Michigan State University. So she has asked the legislative drafting service to come up with an Arizona-style law she can introduce into the Legislature.
By the way, if you've been too busy the last few months playing Donkey Kong to follow Arizona politics much, let me bring you up to speed. Arizona, a place where there really are a lot of illegal Hispanic immigrants, passed a law designed to evoke memories of Nazi-occupied Europe. If police officers stop anybody for any reason, they can demand they furnish proof that they are in this country legally. Otherwise, they can haul them off to jail.
Meltzer evidently thinks we need to try to create the atmosphere of occupied Casablanca here.
"It just makes sense for Michigan, with all of its national boundaries, to enact similar security for our citizens," she said.
"State law enforcement officers must be given the proper level of training and authority to provide this basic level of protection."
National boundaries? Perhaps she fears the hordes of Canadians who furtively slip across the border every night and who then mill around menacingly in their mukluks, muttering, "Eh."
Actually, there aren't any of those, and if you weren't aware that Michigan has a big illegal immigrant problem, there's a reason: We don't.
Ten years ago, the U.S. Census estimated that California has 2.2 million illegals. Michigan had maybe 70,000. Other estimates since then put Michigan's illegal alien population slightly higher, at maybe 110,000, but there are also indications that number is shrinking, maybe because of the economy.
Most of those who are here, so far as I can see, work at dreadful sub-minimum wage jobs. Nevertheless, they are still illegal, so why not give the cops more expanded tools to deal with them?
For lots of good reasons. First of all, as the normally conservative Lansing State Journal noted in blasting Meltzer's idiotic idea, lots of cops have been laid off because of the recession. The ones who are left already have too much to do without becoming a second set of immigration police.
Besides, whatever they say, this will cause racial profiling. Two years ago I had a European student who was blond, blue-eyed, and a part-time model. And she was in this country illegally, because of an expired visa and legal problems at home. This year, I had a Muslim student who wore Islamic dress who happened to be a U.S. citizen born in Detroit.
Guess which of these the cops would be most likely to ask to prove their right to be here. What Meltzer's crack-brained bill would certainly lead to are lots of lawsuits from groups like the ACLU.
Worse, it would cost Michigan even more money. Officials in Phoenix say they have already lost more than $90 million in canceled hotel and convention business because of their anti-immigrant law, which hasn't even gone into effect yet. Is that what we need? Does anyone think Michigan needs to lose any more business?
On paper, the chances of Lil' Kim's cheap election stunt becoming law, or even coming up for a vote, are small. Democrats control the House, and both parties' so-called leaders have full-time jobs failing to balance the budget. Still, these are crazy times. Her nutty bill would call for more government intrusion into everybody's life, precisely what the Tea Party dingbats are paranoid about. But because it is directed against "illegals," they may like it.
Stay tuned, and if you live in the state Senate district that is home to Brandenburg, Drolet and Meltzer, I have a suggestion:
Our statesmen at work: To everyone's astonishment, the state finally managed to pass the teacher retirement bill last week, just when it seemed a lost cause.
It may not have been a coincidence that this happened right after the Detroit Free Press called for Speaker of the House Andy Dillon and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop to step down.
Both have been nearly complete failures at coming together to pass policies for the good of our state, and each is busy running for other offices anyway. The state needs full-time leaders in those jobs, especially since we are nowhere near to getting the budget done.
Nobody's ever accused me of being a rubber stamp for the Free Press, but in this case it is exactly right. The non-dynamic duo should give way to two people who can concentrate on the job.
Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.