Mon 16 Oct 2006
Well. I finally made it through the Arizona Proposition Pamphlet, or whatever it’s called. Arizona is one of those states where anyone can propose new legislation for the ballot as long as they get enough petition signatures. The result is a scattershot collection of propositions covering everything from unused lottery money to pig stalls. Dr. G went through the book first and kept his choices a secret from me until I had made mine. “I will say this much,” he said. “According to this book the worst person you could be in this state is a gay, undocumented, immigrant smoker.”
Right when we moved here I began to notice the prominence of the undocumented immigrant issue. In crime-ridden cities such as Baltimore, every politician has to at least pose as being “tough on crime.” In this large border state, every politician must swear up and down his or her commitment to handling the “illegal problem.” Even ordinary, non-political people seem to worry about it. I don’t really get the sense of urgency and panic. Yes, for the sake of national security its important to have a well-monitored border. Yes, it’s best if all people living here can benefit from the protection of the law and contribute responsibly to the community. But where does this sense of beleaguerment come from? From the tone of some of the public dialogue, you’d think the citizenry couldn’t even open its front doors to pick up the paper off its porches due to the unwashed masses pressing against them. “I’m sorry, Howard, you won’t be able to review the box scores this moring! The illegals have overrun the yard, and they have pitchforks. It’s been days and we’re almost out of clean water. I think I’ll try to parachute to the Circle K from the second story after midnight.”
Based on the voter pamphlet, it seems there is a contigent of Arizonans who believe that the best response to undocumented immigration is to make life as miserable as possible for people who can’t prove they belong here. There are initiatives to prohibit people from suing for punitive damages; from taking English classes; from enrolling their children in state-subsidized child care; and so on.
My initial impression is that this kind of stuff is just plain mean-spirited. I’ve heard the argument that people who don’t contribute to the tax system should not be able to benefit from our services, our government, or our protection in any way. They’re just a buncha dirty cheaters, sneaking over here without permission. We don’t want them to assimilate, work, contribute– none of that. We want them to be as poor and as isolated and as big a long-term burden on the healthcare system as possible! I wonder how much money these folks, who identify illegals as a huge drain on our resources, are willing to spend on apprehending and deporting undocumented immigrants. It would be interesting to tally up the projected costs of enforcing their various prohibitive initiatives and compare them with the actual public costs incurred by undocumented immigrants and their children.
Other big issues in the pamphlet, as Dr. G’s comment would indicate, are bans on public smoking and a one-man-one-woman marriage amendment. And, oh yes, something where everyone who votes is automatically entered into a raffle to win a million dollars of leftover lottery money. Bring it, baby! In the final tally, Dr. G and I agreed on all but 4 measures. (Yes on bigger stalls for cute widdle piggies! Didn’t you read Charlotte’s Web, Dr. G?).