Arizona and California sit on opposite sides of a great divide.
The liberal element in California – admittedly a very big element – believes the divide is about immigration. They feel they are winning the public relations side of the battle. They smirk in this direction. They swell up in their righteousness. The only problem is that it is very difficult to figure out what their position really is. One has to look under the covers and that is where you find the real divide between the two states. And it isn’t immigration.
Immigration is what is getting the focus. Illegal immigration is what most Americans label the issue. Mexico’s president simply calls it “migration.” In California they must call it the status quo – as in no steps are necessary to align law with reality or vice versa. The Democrats – which control that state to its very core – are frozen in place on the issue.
It is a very complicated issue with matters of law, economics, human dignity, civil rights and just plain civility all playing a part. It is pompous to believe the answers are simple and dangerous when a politician or organization wants to paint any group of people – by religion, race or otherwise – as villains.
On the other side of immigration is Arizona. The majority of its voters want something done on the flow of illegal immigrants coming across the state’s border. They worry about the strain on public resources. They worry about taxes and they worry about the long-term economic implications by continuing to allow the status quo.
So the game was officially on with the passage of SB1070. When Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill she said she hoped it would bring pressure to bear on the federal government to begin to enforce its own rule of law. She and the majority of the state’s legislature thought that looking the other way on illegal immigration was wrong. They felt the federal government had let them down by failing to effectively deal with the issue.
Instead of getting federal sympathy, the Obama Administration sought legal action against the state of Arizona. And then, oddly, liberal groups and politicians in California took SB1070 as an opportunity to make Arizona a whipping boy on the immigration issue. They called Arizonans racists. They demanded that California businesses – and Californians -- boycott Arizona. And they called for the rest of the country to join in.
Okay, fine. Those outraged folks in California were then and are now entitled to their opinion about what is obviously a divisive issue. After all, California is also a border state. What makes our country great is that people can differ in their views on laws – immigration laws and other laws.
But to label a state and its citizens as racists because they don’t share your view is extreme. One very liberal California congresswoman even claimed Arizona was the pawn of white supremacy groups and that such groups were really to blame for the passage of SB1070. To suggest that everyone in Arizona and its political leaders were being manipulated by extremists was irresponsible.
One could suppose that was the only answer the congresswoman could come up with after polls consistently showed most people in Arizona – and nationally – support doing something about the illegal immigration issue.
But maybe all that finger pointing and name calling helped some in California forget just for a short time their own state’s prodigious list of ills and issues. You know, like being broke. And businesses being so highly taxed that 1 in 5 say they do not plan to be doing business in the state within 3 years. Many of those businesses said in a poll they plan to relocate to Texas, Nevada and, yes, Arizona.
California’s legislature further painted that reality when Governor Jerry Brown signed this past week the next phase of the California Dream Act that provides state financial aid to illegal immigrants provided they graduate from a California high school.
There are many people that see that action as being the right thing to do for students who were brought here illegally by their parents and have grown up in this country. Their view is that those young people are guilty of nothing and should not be deprived of educational opportunity.
There are also some in California who think such a policy is irresponsible during an economic crisis that sees California on the brink of financial ruin. They are ignored.
It is estimated by the state’s department of finance that only about 2,500 students will qualify when the bill is effective in 2013. The estimated cost is $14.5 million. They point out that this dollar amount represents only 1 per cent of the total Cal Grant funding.
Of course, that means higher taxes in California or kids that are American citizens being excluded from receiving Cal Grants because the field was widened. In California, you can bet on more taxes. You’ve heard the military expression, “no man left behind.” The California Legislature must have the mantra that “there will be no entitlement that we won’t expand or introduce.”
California’s state revenue is now projected to be a half billion dollars or so under budget projections. The economy is still rocked by plummeting home values and an overtaxed population and a very nervous business community.
The California Dream Act is just the latest symptom of a state out of control regarding its finances. This is actually the more important divide between California and Arizona. Arizona taxpayers won’t tolerate being taxed to death due to the immigration issue or any other issue. Californians, on the other hand, are likely doomed to their state falling into financial ruin as their governor and legislature continue to entitle everyone and everything.
The smart money is on Arizona when it comes to how taxpayers in the two states fare in all of this. That is a pretty important divide between the two states.
And about that other issue, Arizonans are not racists but they are realists. That is why the state will continue to grapple with the illegal immigration issue and will likely lead the way to the eventual solutions adopted in other states and the federal government.