Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


The Judiciary Committees of the state House of Repre-sentatives and state Senate should make the honor roll for killing dangerous legislation. Monday, the Senate committee deep-sixed a bill to turn local policemen and sheriff’s deputies into immigration and national security agents.

House Bill 2779, still another effort by northwest Arkansas Republicans to make criminals of employers who hire Mexicans who are in the country illegally. Police would be expected to arrest people who employ illegal aliens or otherwise “harbor” them.
“I want to show that we’re better than our Congress and our president,” Rep. Jon Woods, R-Springdale, told the committee. “I want something done. People in my district want something done.”

It would put an impossible burden on local police, who would have to find out who is an illegal alien. Where would they go to find out? It’s a federal agents’ job after all. They are supposed to enforce the laws, too, not cops who are to be protecting folks from the real criminals, who are numerous enough. Landlords who rent homes to Mexicans and even employees of domestic-violence shelters that take in battered Mexican women could be jailed under the bill if they mistakenly took in someone who turned out not to be legal. The committee overwhelmingly rejected the bill. It was its best work of the session.
—Ernie Dumas