News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Running Scared: John McCain and immigration reform

Senator John McCain showed extraordinary courage and resolve, stoically enduring torture while captured as a downed pilot by North Vietnam. However, it seems Mr. McCain's political courage is open to question based on his back-pedaling on immigration reform.

The man who once had the guts to reach across the aisle and join Senator Ted Kennedy in sponsoring immigration reform in 2007 has publicly endorsed the bigotry-posing-as-law which is Arizona's new immigration statute. Among a number of glaring injustices, the new law gives local law enforcement officers the power to detain anyone for being an illegal immigrant when the officer feels "reasonable suspicion" exists. What (besides brown skin) would lead a law enforcement officer to suspect someone is an undocumented immigrant? Some might say men standing outside a hardware superstore waiting for day work might qualify as suspects. And that's precisely where the law reveals its bigotry.

Day laborers are men are looking for honest work. But it seems the good citizens of Arizona would rather have their law enforcement officers rounding up low wage workers than nabbing real criminals. I hope the citizens of Arizona who support this law all sleep better at night now. They can hide behind talk about "the rule of law." But the real intent of this law is abundantly clear.

The new Arizona law was sponsored by State Senator Russel Pearce, a man whose right wing credentials include connections to neo-Nazi groups -- a charge Mr. Pearce denies despite photographic evidence to the contrary. Now, you can add U.S. Senator John McCain to those who back Mr. Pearce.

Senator McCain faces a tough challenge in the GOP primary from J.D. Hayworth, a far right radio personality. Too bad Senator McCain's legendary courage has wilted under the heat of a close political contest.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez