Hey Illegals, Get Off My Lawn!

Despite the amount of inadvertent entertainment value he provides for this site, I haven’t been very familiar with the work of Ted Van Dyk. But in looking around at various items related to the new law in Arizona, I came across his column from yesterday in Crosscut.

In providing some context for why the law has enjoyed widespread popularity, Van Dyk writes:

The middle-sized central Arizona city, where I spend time, until recently was best known for its small colleges, farming, and ranching. It is a conservative place but populated as well by California and Midwest retirees drawn to the city’s natural setting and authentic old neighborhoods with Victorian homes. In recent years, however, it has been flooded by inflows of illegal Latinos far different from the family- and church-oriented, hard working Latinos familiar to Arizonans over many decades. Violent crime, drug production and trafficking, burglaries, and road accidents have skyrocketed. Burdens (and costs) also have mushroomed for local law enforcement, social service, and education agencies. Citizens no longer take casual night strolls they once did.

The home I share there with my life partner has been shaken twice in recent months by automobiles careening at high speed into its yard, both times driven by illegals high on drugs (who both fled the scene on foot, to be apprehended later). The drivers had no insurance and promptly disappeared, making restitution for property damage impossible.

Down the street, in this traditional neighborhood, a family residence became a notorious drug-distribution point, with autos driving through to make pickups, night and day. Couriers on bikes (Latinos, as it happens) made drug deliveries throughout the city. Law enforcement recently was able to stop the operation, after several years. But it was only one of many in the city.

The deterioration of Phoenix is not merely anecdotal. The amount of drug cartel activity and kidnappings has gone way up in recent years. But as Dave Neiwert points out here, this is a drug prohibition problem, not an illegal immigration problem. Going after illegal immigrants will do absolutely nothing to address what many Arizonans see as the justification for their new law.

The escalation in the violence has been a result of a number of factors. As I’ve written about previously, the strength of Mexico’s drug cartels was a result of our relative success in cracking down on Colombian cartels. In addition, the border crackdowns since 9/11 have forced those cartels to move more of their operations into the United States, especially by growing marijuana in public lands within America instead of trying to smuggle it across the border. Third, the nationwide efforts to restrict sales of over-the-counter cold medicines – making it much harder to cook up large quantities of methamphetamines – has shifted that trade from being small and local to being a more high-scale operation that makes its way from Mexico through the southwest.

All of these things have made Phoenix, which sits in an ideal location near the Mexican border, a major transit and operation point for Mexican-based drug distribution networks. This is wholly separate from the reality of the vast majority of illegal laborers within the United States, most of whom are still the “church-oriented, hardworking Latinos” that Van Dyk fondly remembers. He probably doesn’t see that so much now that the growing anti-immigration paranoia has painted targets on their backs.

Not surprisingly, none of this history shows up in Van Dyk’s column, despite the fact that it’s the reason for why there’s now so much crime there. Instead, what’s left unchallenged is the incorrect assumption that all of these bad things are simply the result of people coming here illegally to work. In reality, the cause and effect is reversed. Drug prohibition and the empowering of the cartels over the past 20 years is what has created the need for so many people in Mexico to seek low-wage employment in the United States. And now that the violence and economic devastation is starting to follow them across the border, we’re blaming them and continuing to ignore the real villain.

I don’t think I need to add anything to Jon’s sentiments from earlier this week. There’s little to no distinction between the actions of those behind the Arizona law and the kinds of things that real fascists were doing in the beginning of their rises to power. And the attempts to misdirect blame for the failures of drug prohibition onto some of the individuals who’ve been most negatively affected by it is appalling.

Of course, this isn’t a criticism of Ted Van Dyk. In his column, he recognizes the potential grave injustices that this law tries to normalize. But there’s a separate criticism that needs to be made. And it’s to all of those in the media who continue to discuss the topic of illegal immigration without even mentioning the central role that drug prohibition plays in it. Without that context, we will continue to remain angry at the wrong people and will continue to steer ourselves towards that more dangerous world where large classes of our fellow citizens lose the presumption of innocence that should be a right to us all.


  1. 1

    Zotz spews:

    They are “real” fascists, Goldy.

    Ruddy faced fascists.

    These are the people who make the pogroms, etc. possible. They’re “good” Germans.

    And their elected leadership made it all legal, just like the Nazis.

  2. 3

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    What this says to me is that we need a total re-think on the War on Drugs, like how do we end it??

    Could it be as easy as what’s happening with I-1068? Hmmm…if marijuana were legal, why would gangsters and criminals want to sell it and shoot each other over control of it?

  3. 4

    Steve spews:

    @3 Over on SoundPolitics they’re discussing killer weed. That shit kills you! Sigh!

    If we want to end the drug war revolving around marijuana, legalize it now. What’s happening on our border today is little different than what was going on in American cities during alcohol prohibition. It’s not like there’s people being shot dead in the streets of American cities by a criminal element of society over the availability of liquor these days. It’ll be the same with pot. It’s long past time to end this senseless prohibition. We’ve reached the point where prohibition only benefits the Mexican drug lords.

  4. 5

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:


    You may be surprised to know that many areas with a high proportion of illegal Hispanic residents have very low crime rates. Look at El Paso and Laredo for example. Even the glibertarians agree:


    El Paso is across a porous border from one of the most lawless cities on the planet (Ciudad Juarez).

    See also crime rankings (http://www.bestplaces.net/docs/studies/crime3.aspx). Tacoma is in pretty bad shape compared to many national averages, but only crazies claim it is due to illegal immigration (maybe the high proportion of Department of Defense “employees”?).

    What does this tell you? Well, you could reasonably conclude that the more ‘illegals’ you allow in you community, the safer it will become. Alas, also the poorer in terms of income.

    But you can’t have everything.

    True, immigrants tend to put pressure on domestic wages, but so do the Chinese. Plus they are typically young, hard working, and pay their taxes (good for my Social Security). So what if you have to learn to read a menu in Spanish? Like, is that the end of the fucking world?

    If you really want stop this migration, I’d suggest, like you, legalizing drugs. We should abolish our agricultural subsidies that have decimated Mexican agriculture. Last, but not least, we could always invade their country (again). After all, if one is a Peter Beinart liberal interventionist, this should be right down your alley-a real win-win. If you want to have an empire, you have to suck it up at times.

  5. 6

    righton spews:

    ok, say you guys get your beloved amnesty for these guys…..will you ever set a level of immigration other than “unlimited”.

    my gut is you really want amnesty plus unlimited immigration in the future

  6. 7

    George Will's Crazy-Ass New Rug spews:

    re 6: Reagan is the one who did the amnesty. We want to arrest the employers.

  7. 8

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    jerk above: “my gut is you really want amnesty plus unlimited immigration in the future.”

    Well, my gut is you guys don’t care about amnesty, and really don’t care about illegals as long as they mind their p’s and q’s and help bust unions whilst keeping wages low and making political hay about your self professed desire to ‘protect our borders’. Kinda’ like your righteous stand on ‘protecting the unborn’…..when you had the power to do something, your party did jack shit.

    The only thing your standard issue conservatives are good for is lowering taxes for the rich. How does it feel to be a useless appendage, a tool, and a door mat?

  8. 9

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    “plus unlimited immigration in the future”

    This country was (to the regret of those who were here first) pretty well built on unlimited immigration. So who’s the real “conservative” here?

    Not you it would seem.

  9. 10

    Puddybud sez, Ask the arschloch about his home HA database spews:

    It’s amazing the “reading material” proffered by the HA Libtardo Leaders. Here is another view

    A great comment…

    You tell ‘em! They don’t speak for me!

    Pandering to illegals and then crying racism makes my blood boil, as an American Born hispanic, I’m proud that my family worked hard to get here the right way, and I’m appalled at the illegals ruining their good names by being what they are:

    Criminal trespassers. Go get your visas, naturalized resident status, then become a US citizen and excercise your civil liberties. Don’t complain before that, there are no part time Americans.

  10. 11

    J. Whorfin spews:

    The President gave a very good speech in Michigan today, one that more than a few on this blog need to heed:

    “Throwing around phrases like ‘socialist’ and ‘Soviet-style takeover,’ ‘fascist’ and ‘right-wing nut’ may grab headlines, but it also has the effect of comparing our government, or our political opponents, to authoritarian and even murderous regimes,” Mr. Obama said. Such rhetoric, he said, closes the door to political compromise.

    Getting to the point, I don’t see why this (and so many other issues) are always painted either/or. A sensible drug policy and a sensible immigration policy are not mutually exclusive.

  11. 12

    righton spews:

    the US never had unlimited immigration.

    and when we had the big waves of eastern and southern europeans in late 1800s, early 1900s, we made assimilation part of the deal. No tolerance for La Raza or Astlan or Reconquista

    (ps, lefties love to say how SW used to be Mexican; well actually the Spanish conquered parts of America, then the US and English and Russians too…all of which matters for naught in assessing the national borders)

  12. 13

    Steve spews:

    “No tolerance”

    Yeah, Right. And I suppose you’ll be wearing green and wishing everyone a happy St. Patrick’s Day in a couple of weeks. Hypocrite. Your damned intolerance is for the color brown.

    “(ps, lefties love to say how SW used to be Mexican; well actually the Spanish conquered”

    You dumbfuck wingnuts love to ignore the fact that a large number of latinos have been citizens of this nation for a very long time, particulary in the SW of which you speak, have assimilated quite nicely, and have made very large contributions to our society. You demonize decent and good people and I hope you go to hell for it.

    Sigh! I get so quickly bored with insipid comments spewn from hate-filled hypocrites.

  13. 14

    Possum spews:

    A Random Tail from the Possum: When the possum was but a lad he attended graduate school at the University of New Mexico. A departmental administrator was a knock-out beauty who looked like she stepped out of a Mayan carving. Her family went back to the 1600s in New Mexico.

    She was entertaining a group of Spanish visitors, all of whom were fair, blond and blue-eyed. Driving back to Albuquerque they hit an INS internal road block (these are far from any border). The departmental admin and her young son were questioned at length about their right to be in the US. No questions were asked of the Spanish visitors, who, incidentally, spoke very little English.

    Racial profiling? Another leftist fantasy!

  14. 15

    wasabi spews:


    Do you support the legalization of all drugs? If marijuana is legalized, won’t the drug cartels continue to push meth, cocaine, and heroin? I completely agree that marijuana should be legalized, but I don’t think legalization will help to solve the problems on the border with foreign drug cartels.

  15. 16

    Lee spews:

    I support legalization of all drugs, but legalization does not necessarily mean “sold freely in stores”. It can also mean allowing it by prescription to allow for doctors to properly wean someone from a chemical addiction (as is done very successfully in much of Europe).

    Legalization of marijuana will rob Mexican cartels of over half their revenue. Legalization of all drugs would wipe them out completely.

  16. 17

    slingshot spews:

    Regarding amnesty, has anyone heard an actual workable plan to deport eleven million people from the right? Have they conciously and calculatingly tried to create a flow chart or draft? A price estimate?

    It’s all just more tough-guy bullshit ‘mission accomplished’, ‘bring it on’ chicken hawk chest pounding.

  17. 18

    Lee spews:

    No, I have never heard such a plan, but I can assure you that when one does surface, it will be put forth by individuals who claim to believe in “limited government”. :)

  18. 19

    mikek spews:

    @12: Regarding the assimilation of previous generations of immigrants, I am a third generation American. My Slav grandparents came here in the early 20th century. I remember as a child going to ethnic events at our ‘club’. We ate traditional ethnic food, listened to traditional music, and many of the speeches were not in English. The older people spoke broken English. My cousin’s grandmother could barely speak English, and couldn’t read it, after being in America for several decades. In my hometown, every ethnic group had its club, church, or both (there were several Catholic churches in my hometown for the various ethnic groups: Italian, Croatian, Slovenian, Polish, etc).

    Assimilation happened pretty much of its own accord, over time. The second generation, my parents, were much more Americanized, but still bilingual, and by the time of my generation, we were thoroughly ‘American’, whatever that means. Of course, we’re white Europeans, so that made the assimilation easier, but I bet that there aren’t many third generation Hispanic Americans who don’t think of themselves as Americans, speak English fluently, and participate in our country’s life in the same way I do. It’s part of what makes this an amazing country.

  19. 20

    mike spews:

    I left Phoenix in 1981. Since then, the population has doubled. They have built hundreds if not thousands of miles of freeways, trying their best to become another LA. I know a person there who is supposedly an expert on water who thinks thinks the population can continue to grow and grow without any problems regarding water supply. And that’s the plan.

    And yet, the people who were most for a big box store on every corner and corrupt politicians and developers stroking each other are also the ones who want it to be the sleepy berg of the 60’s or 70’s.

    Kind of naive to think that you can engineer on this big a scale and only attract one side of the population without also attracting the shadow side of things, i.e. gangsters.

    The same people who believe in the fantasy of the corporate free market also believe they can take away the individual market for under the table services by force. Hint: there will always be a market for under the tables services. All you can do is take them out from under the table. Nationality or ancestry is irrelevant. Spanish speakers with brown skin just give you a psychological “other” to latch on to.

    100 years ago on the east coast it would have been the filthy Irish or Italians you were complaining about.

    Some things never change. The complaining and nostalgic longing for a time that never really existed.

  20. 21

    righton spews:

    You guys are ignorant; your ideas are nice in theory (yeah we had hords of irish, etc) but if you go vist the big SW cities today, you will be shocked by the non-assimilation.

    I’m met many a 25 yr old, born here, who doesn’t speak a lick of english. So because you guys are idealistic, i have to endure Spanish or even the dozen or so other languages you want to safeguard. I’m telling you, Enlish only is the way to go for public things. Just like in earlier waves, go home or to church and feel free to communicate as you want, but don’t make this place bilingual

  21. 23


    I’m met many a 25 yr old, born here, who doesn’t speak a lick of english.

    Hahaha! And I went on a vacation to Jupiter last week.

    My god, are trying to embarrass yourself?

  22. 24

    Zotz spews:

    @24: I think they were probably fucking with him (it).

    Kind of like what the French (who can pretty much all speak fluent English) do when you’re an asshole doughy white douchebag American in Paris.

  23. 25


    You’re probably right. If righton can be this much of an obnoxious moron over the internet, imagine how much of an epic douchebag he’d be in person.


  24. 26

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    “So because you guys are idealistic….”

    Us? Take your typical wingnut belief in the “magic” of the free market. Talk about idealism, you guys would make anarchists (or small “c” communists) blush.

    When it comes to foreign relations, not so much.

  25. 27

    Dr. Dre, Easy E, and MC Ren spews:

    socialism and illegal immigrants – kick both of them the fuck out of the country.

  26. 28

    It's the Economy, Stupid. spews:

    Let Arizona stew in it’s own juices. How about we fix our state? Let’s let our state be a model for what we think is important?

    How do we get our state to have the toughest enforcement of laws against employers who hire illegals?
    Who do we have to start to pressure to get that to happen?

    I can see two consequences of this.
    One, the slavery wing of the republican party would scream and fight this tooth and nail, claiming that it’s making the economic environment bad for business in WA, compared to other states.
    Two, over time, the amount of illegals here would drop dramatically. They cannot get jobs and they will go somwhere else where the jobs are, or they will commit crimes and be deported. We would be a shining examples of how do it correctly.

  27. 30

    mikek spews:

    @27: Being a socialist and an American are not mutually exclusive. I don’t see anywhere in the Constitution (get out your handy pocket version) where an economic system is specified. In fact, providing for the general welfare almost calls for elements of socialism.

  28. 31

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @27 I have a better idea. Let’s crate you up and send you to Outer Phuckistan.

  29. 33

    Zotz spews:

    @30: Most of the good founding fathers were just about raving socialists compared to most left politicos today — and basically atheists, particularly Tom Paine.

    I snicker when I hear Beckkk get all gushy about Paine… fucking morans.

  30. 34

    righton, amigo... spews:

    no sabes los hechos basicos historicos. en america del norte habin imigracion sin limites cuando los europeos vinieron; si puedes recordar, no habia La Migra en esos tiempos. Y tambien los franceses, los espanoles, los de suecia, los holandeses, y los ingleses vinieron.

    2. por que no queires aprender un idioma extranjero? Queires quedar un gran tonto ?

    3. Dime algo amigo, por que no te gusta imigracion sin limites? Parece que a ti no te gustan los latinos. Supongo que tu eres racista. Si no queires hablar espanol, tal vez deberias emigrar tu mismo, tal vez a …pues hombre, hay los negros y los latinos y los arabes y los turcos por todas partes del mundo, no hay pais puro blanco como quererias…

    mejor aprender espanol, jokay?

    Bueno te invito a empezar con cien anos de solitud, las palabras son bastante dificiles pero you podria leerlo, solo te costara …hmmmm…tal vez tres anos de estudiar espanol para que puedas leerlo. Y luego, por supuesto, don quixote de la mancha. o tal vez si quieres comenzar con un libro que ya has leido en ingles, obviamente, un libre que te gusto muchisimo, empezcas con “Mi Lucha.” Ya lo sabes muy bien, estoy cierto.

  31. 35

    Michael spews:


    We had an house cleaner from El Salvador for about a year. After what we did to her country back in the ’80’s hiring her was the least I could do! She was super hard working and did great work (never did ask if she was here legally).

    We do need to get control of immigration and our southern border is a big part of that, but we need to do it in a way that doesn’t kick poor folks in the head. The new Arizona law doesn’t stop illegal immigration, it doesn’t stop people from employing illegal immigrants, it does give the illegal immigrant who’s been raped by her supervisor at work or the man who’s house she’s cleaning a really good reason to NOT go to the police about it. If you wanted to set up a neo-feudal state this law would be a good place to start.