"Ray Meier hasn't been all that silent on immigration. Here's what he told an interviewer from the conservative magazine Human Events:
Immigration Reform: Borrowing the title of Rep. J.D. Hayworth’s (R.-Ariz.) new book, Meier said Congress must do “whatever it takes” to gain control of the border. While he wouldn’t commit to building a fence, he also wouldn’t rule out some sort of physical structure. He supports the deployment of additional Border Patrol agents to the U.S.-Mexico border. As a lawmaker who represents a large population of immigrations from Bosnia and Eastern Europe, he said it’s highly unfair to legal immigrants when people enter the country illegally."
Oh, damn, what a creep Ray Meier is. Thanks to the reader who pointed this out to me, though.
This "whatever it takes" attitude is something that really bothers me about Republican politicians these days. They take problems, ordinary problems, and do their best to blow them up into huge crisis proportions in order to justify a right wing ideological extremism in the law.
The fake Social Security Crisis is the prime example, of this, of course. There's a problem with Social Security funding, but there's not a crisis. Republicans say that there is, and propose cutting the benefits for people in my generation, in spite of the fact that we've been paying into the system for years.
That's the typical Republican pattern of manipulation for you. Take an ordinary problem, try to exaggerate it into a massive crisis, and then use the threat of that fake crisis to get voters to support "emergency" measures to do "whatever it takes". Whenever I hear "whatever it takes" coming out of the mouth of a Republican politician, I hear this translation: "We're about to break a promise".
So it is with immigration. There has been no striking increase in illegal immigration over the last few years. The idea that there has been, as some hateful right wingers put it, a new "Mexican Invasion" of the United States, is a myth. Of course there are illegal immigrants. Why? Because some cheap people in business are so greedy and unpatriotic that they don't want to pay good American workers the wages that they deserve. But this has been a consistent problem for years. There's nothing new to merit the recent hype about illegal immigrants... except that Republicans have rightfully earned bottom basement approval ratings, and are looking for some way to get people afraid again, knowing that when people fear for their security, they tend to vote Republican.
Ray Meier is going right along with this terrible charade, giving us this "whatever it takes" language. Remember that translation, folks: "Whatever it takes" means "We're about to break a promise".
What's the promise that Ray Meier and the Republican fearmongers are breaking now? How about the promises of the rule of law and freedom of speech as written in the First Amendment?
A lot of people don't remember that, last year, the Republican Congress passed a law saying that the Secretary of Homeland Security has the right to render all laws of the United States of America null and void within ten miles of the U.S. border. It sounds crazy, but it's true. Now, with the idea that there is some kind of immigration crisis, the President is marching the National Guard right into that new Law-Free Zone. If that combination of events doesn't raise your eyebrows, I don't know what will. But Ray Meier says it's no big deal. Whatever it takes, he says.
Then there's yesterday's Senate vote to make non-English speakers second class citizens. Under the new law, to now be negotiated by the House and Senate, American citizens who don't speak English as their first language, like many people born in the USA in the Southwest, will become second-class citizens who can legally be denied basic government services. Government services can include things like getting married and renewing a driver's license.
The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees us freedom of speech. If the government can dictate to us now which language we have to speak, then freedom of speech in the United States is a joke.
No problem, says Ray Meier. Whatever it takes. He speaks English, so what's the problem right?
The problem is that this "whatever it takes" attitude is stomping all over the fundamental principles of our open, lawful, and democratic society. By joining in on the hateful anti-Hispanic crusade, Ray Meier isn't just hurting Hispanics. He's damaging the basic rights and protections from the government that we all depend upon.
Now, when I wrote earlier this morning, I was thankful for what I thought was the restraint of both Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier on the immigration issue. Even then, before we learned about Ray Meier's unwise foray into the crude anti-immigrant crusade, a reader here who goes by the name of Biggus suggested to me that the candidates actually had the duty to speak up and argue vigorously against the bigotry of the anti-immigrant crowd. I wrote back to him that I was still hoping for the hysteria to die down, but that candidates would need to speak out against it if it got any worse.
Well, Ray Meier's involvement in the border security scare makes it worse. Furthermore, it seems that Michael Arcuri hasn't really been all that silent on immigration ayway. I found the following in an article in the Hamilton College Spectator:
"A few striking mistakes were made during his talk, including a repeatedly botched pronunciation of the word Dubai (which was corrected by an audience member), and the attribution of Social Security's creation to Truman, instead of Roosevelt. Arcuri also referred to New York as being "not a border state," during a discussion about immigration."
It looks as if I was very wrong about the state of the issue of immigration in this campaign when I wrote that article this morning. It seems that Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri are both talking up the immigration issue when they talk to reporters and directly to voters. We know that Ray Meier is on the wrong side of the issue, but it's not yet clear to everybody what Mike Arcuri's position actually is.
It would be reassuring to see a press release from Arcuri now, talking reasonably about the immigration issue, and refusing to join in the anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant furor. The Republicans have dragged the issue into the race, and now we are in desperate need of a candidate who will do the honorable thing and say no to the hate.