Plucky San Bernardino Demonstrates Resolve as Nero Fiddles.

May  17, 2006
By Carol Turoff
President Bush’s weak immigration reforms are no match for the determined citizens of San Bernardino who take the issues of security and sovereignty directly to the ballot.
As President Bush gingerly positions his fiddle under his chin, and begins his rhapsody in the immigration debate, a city in one of the nation’s most populous counties proposes comprehensive restrictions to address the divisive issue. Bush’s poll numbers have plummeted to a low of 28, providing impetus for his sudden interest in border security.
Too late, Nero, the cities are burning. Deploying 6000 National Guard troops, with no enforcement powers, is of no consequence.   We all know that your “guest worker” lingo translates to amnesty.
Perhaps Bush should focus on the plucky city of San Bernardino, California. Located within the largest county in the contiguous United States, the birthplace of the McDonald’s franchise is placing a sweeping reform measure on the ballot after the city council refused to adopt it.
If approved, the proposal would severely impact illegal immigrants; sharply curtailing their ability to obtain housing and employment. Employer sanctions, culminating in denial of permits to businesses hiring illegal workers are an integral part of the ballot measure.  It further mandates that all official city business be conducted in English.
The city is an interesting setting for such reforms. According to FBI data, at 25.9 per 100,000 population, San Bernardino holds the unenviable distinction of having nearly twice the murder rate of Los Angeles at 13.9. Such figures vaulted the community onto the national list of Top 25 Most Dangerous Cities.  Statistics from the last census placed the median income per household at $31,140. Those on both sides of the measure have vowed major campaigns to present their case to the voters–nearly half of whom are Hispanic.
And, as President Bush perfects his precarious gambol around the edges of this massive national predicament, the citizens of a town of 200,000, boldly declare they have had enough.  Polls indicate the same is true for the majority of Americans across the broad expanse of this nation.
The president has referred to himself as “The Decider.” Yet his decision-making on this issue has left his base angry and frustrated.  Fearful that his plummeting popularity will ensnare other Republican candidates in the fall elections, many office seekers are scurrying to distance themselves from him.  Keenly aware that the White House, Congress and Senate are at stake, many in his core constituency have perfected a soft-shoe off the stage on which he stands.
Although the mostly left-learning media and institutional religions speak of America as a compassionate nation of immigrants, they curiously neglect to address the fact that this unique immigrant base arrived by thumbing its collective nose at our laws.  They had no Ellis Island to be processed through.  They could not be sent back if coughing or feverish.  Earlier entrants were required to guarantee sponsors who would take them in and procure employment. They took classes in English language and were desirous of becoming Americans. 
Not so with the flood of Hispanic immigrants today.  They march through America’s cities shouting demands and threats, while waving Mexican flags.  Many arrive with highly contagious diseases, receiving medical care paid for by working Americans.  To deny their impact on soaring crimes rates and under-performing schools is to disregard solid evidence to the contrary.
Meager enforcement plans for detaining  illegal migrants touted by Bush have met with defiance from Mexican officials. “If there is a real wave of rights abuses, if we see the National Guard starting to directly participate in detaining people—we would immediately start filing lawsuits through our consulates,” declared Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez . President Vicente Fox called Bush to express his “concerns.”
Fox’s spokesman, Ruben Aguilar, confirmed that Mexico remained “optimistic” that the U.S. Senate would approve an immigration reform “in the interests of both countries.” Really? What about the sovereignty and security of the United States? And, what exactly are these shared interests?  It is the duty of government to provide security to its citizens.  In this post 9/11 world, that is a paramount concern.  Nothing less will do.
George Bush, playing Nero, mindlessly plucks at the strings of his lustrous new violin while the national flames soar.  Meanwhile, the determined citizens of San Bernardino counter with spirited response to the invasion of their home.
May they triumph.
Carol Turoff is a former two-term member of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. During her eight years on the commission, she participated in the selection of four of the five current Arizona Supreme Court Justices as well as 17 judges on both Division I and II of the Arizona Court of Appeals. Appointed by two governors, Turoff served with three chairing Supreme Court Justices.


  1. Gary Nelson says

    While we all agree that our borders must be secure, we gain nothing by propagating alarmist falsehoods concerning immigrants, as you have done in this article. You assert that “many arrive with highly contagious diseases…” Do you have any evidence for that? The only recent disease epidemics in the U.S. came by way of mosquitoes and contaminated beef, not illegal aliens. The most deadly of our epidemics, AIDS, spread as a result of homosexual promiscuity and drug abuse, neither of which was introduced to this country by illegal immigrants. You also claim, “to deny their impact on soaring crime rates…is to deny solid evidence to the contrary.” That is absolute nonsense, mainly because CRIME RATES ARE NOT SOARING, THEY ARE DECLINING. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, per capita violent crime in Arizona has declined nearly 25% since 1990. During this same period, illegal immigration increased dramatically. In my 27 years in law enforcement in this Valley, I observed no greater propensity toward crime by illegal immigrants than by citizens.
    Immigration reform is a complex subject. Oversimplifying it, especially by scapegoating immigrants with unfounded generalizations, will only confuse the issue and degrade the debate.

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