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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: America degraded by immigration politics

It was a Friday of mixed news on the immigration front, and each development was a symptom of a failed system in desperate need of reform.

Instead, fear, resentment and racism have filled the void. Demagoguery has replaced thoughtful policy. Many voters apparently believed Mexico would pay for a border wall it doesn’t want. Some people won’t be happy until an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants are deported. Both are fantasies.

Now the president threatens a government-shutdown battle if Congress doesn’t come up with the cash for his wall.

The good news on Friday is that a judge tossed Proposition 1 from the Spokane ballot this fall. Proponents sought to overturn long-standing police policy that people not be detained based on immigration status alone. In 2014, the City Council formalized the policy, which gave rise to Respect Washington’s attempts to overturn it. Proponents have never delineated specific problems that arose from the policy. Nonetheless, they’ve slapped on the misleading label “sanctuary city.” Immigration is a federal issue, and the city has done nothing to prevent federal enforcement.

On Friday, Superior Court Judge Julie McKay said if the proposition became law it might conflict with other city laws that bar city employees from “profiling” based on “citizenship status.” Good riddance to the proposition, which was a solution in search of a problem. In fact, it would’ve made it less likely immigrants would cooperate with police in solving crimes. But the judge’s ruling won’t stop the seething from those who focus only on enforcement and deride any path to citizenship as “amnesty.”

Speaking of amnesty, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio was granted something similar for his criminal acts in taking it upon himself to enforce federal immigration laws in Maricopa County, Arizona. In 2013, a federal judge confirmed that Arpaio’s immigration sweeps amounted to illegal racial profiling. He continued anyway, and was ultimately found in contempt. The president spared him a short stint in jail with a pardon, but Maricopa County taxpayers won’t be spared the expense of cleaning up after him – an estimated $92 million by next year in reforms and legal costs.

In addition, news reports suggest Trump is nearing a decision to end admissions to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA allows children brought to the country by illegal immigrant parents to work and pursue an education without fear of being deported. Rescinding this status for so-called Dreamers would force them back into the shadows. Deportation would send some to a country they’ve never known.

We would’ve been spared all of these developments had Congress adopted comprehensive immigration reform that would tighten security and create a path to citizenship. A decade ago, bipartisan momentum was building. But our leaders caved to cries of “amnesty” and “sanctuary,” and America has become degraded by the ugly consequences.

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