May 3, 2010 3:51PM

Arizona Republic Leads the Way on Immigration

In a gutsy display for a newspaper, the Arizona Republic in a front‐​page editorial yesterday castigated the state’s top politicians for a failure of leadership on immigration.

Prompting the editorial was the passage of Arizona’s tough new law making it a crime to be an illegal immigrant in the state. Under the banner headline, “STOP FAILING ARIZONA; START FIXING IMMIGRATION,” the state’s major newspaper fired with both barrels:

We need leaders.
The federal government is abdicating its duty on the border.
Arizona politicians are pandering to public fear.
The result is a state law that intimidates Latinos while doing nothing to curb illegal immigration.
This represents years of failure. Years of politicians taking the easy way and allowing the debate to descend into chaos.
The Arizona Republic has been calling for comprehensive immigration reform continuously since 2002. For a brief time, our congressional delegation led the nation on
this front. But no more.
Now, it seems our elected officials prefer to serve political expediency instead.

The editorial then named ten prominent political leaders from the state, Republicans and Democrats alike, who have either failed to champion real reform for fear of a political backlash, or who have stoked the backlash with inflammatory rhetoric.

2002 was also the year that the Cato Institute made the case for comprehensive immigration reform with my study, “Willing Workers: Fixing the Problem of Illegal Mexican Migration to the United States.” The study argued that enforcement alone will not solve the problem. Immigration law itself must be changed to accommodate the legitimate labor‐​force needs of a growing U.S. economy.

The Republic editorial put the argument succinctly:

Reform must create a legal pipeline for future workers that is demand‐​based and temporary. With a legal framework in place, there will be no reason to be in this country without permission. Foreigners who break our laws will be prosecuted, punished and deported.

Comprehensive reform will make the border safer. When migrant labor is channeled through the legal ports of entry, the Border Patrol can focus on catching drug smugglers and other criminals instead of chasing busboys across the desert.

Real leaders will have the courage to say that.

One real newspaper has shown them how.