Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 12:58 am | Fair 49º


Harris Sherline: MYOB — Mind Your Own Business

Politicians outside Arizona's jurisdiction should stop wasting taxpayer time and money focusing on its immigration law

Dear Abby had a favorite expression that she used often: MYOB, which means Mind Your Own Business. She would give this advice to people who wrote letters that were critical of the conduct of others, particularly their relatives, friends and neighbors. Abby was invariably quite specific: MYOB (butt out).

Harris Sherline
Harris Sherline

There is a long list of self-righteous, self-serving politicians and government officials who have been presuming to tell Arizona that its Legislature’s response to being overrun with illegal immigrants is wrong — by passing legislation (Senate Bill 1070) that essentially mirrors the federal laws against illegally entering the United States.

A partial list of communities that have already condemned and/or are boycotting Arizona includes Santa Barbara, Coachella, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and West Hollywood in California; Boulder, Colo.; Hartford, Conn.; Boston, Mass.; St. Paul, Minn.; New York City; Columbus, Ohio; Austin, Brownsville and El Paso in Texas; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and Milwaukee.

In addition, California’s state Senate is considering a resolution that would urge a boycott of Arizona and an end to California public entities investing in or doing business in the Grand Canyon State.

The city of Baltimore has joined Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Seattle in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a lawsuit by “activists” who are asking a federal court in Arizona to declare the law unconstitutional, while the federal government is reportedly preparing to enter the fray with a similar lawsuit by the Justice Department.

Furthermore, some communities have either declared themselves as “sanctuary cities” or are considering such action. In Santa Barbara, a group is reportedly planning to engage in civil disobedience in an effort to force the City Council to stop doing business with all Arizona-based companies and to declare Santa Barbara a “sanctuary city.”

Sanctuary cities have adopted policies that protect illegal immigrants, generally by not allowing municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce federal immigration laws and prohibiting local police or municipal employees from inquiring about anyone’s immigration status. In 1979, Los Angeles was the first city to adopt such a policy, and 31 municipalities are now considered sanctuary cities.

Through all the turmoil, Arizona residents have remained steadfast, with 70 percent of Arizonans supporting their new law.

But the argument isn’t one-sided. Legislators in as many as 18 states are reportedly discussing adopting an immigration law similar to Arizona’s. Bills have already been introduced in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina, although none of them will be acted on this year. Their reasoning was expressed by Idaho state Sen. Monty Pearce, who said, “If the feds won’t do it, we’re going to have to do it.”

As is so often the case, this is more about politics than right and wrong. Politicians, who are always trolling for votes, are making pronouncements that they believe make them look good in the eyes of voters, especially in California, which is reported to have the largest number of illegal immigrants in the country. To me, their political posturing just looks like more of the self-righteous, hypocritical moralizing we have come to expect from so many elected officials.

Perhaps the most graphic illustration of this is statement by a member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, Peggy West, who takes pride in being the first Latino/Hispanic American elected to the county board, and who thinks Arizona is not on the border with Mexico. West said she would have to look twice at the Arizona law if it was like Texas, “which is a state that is directly on the border with Mexico.”

I don’t presume to know whether Arizona’s law is unconstitutional, although my sense is that it is not. However, what is of much greater concern to me is the widespread involvement by so many city councils, boards of supervisors and other legislative bodies, including the California Assembly, many of whose members are using their positions to further politicize a situation that is clearly outside their jurisdiction. What on earth does Arizona’s new immigration law have to do with managing the affairs of other communities that are not directly affected?

For my money, all those politicians who are not directly involved in Arizona’s situation should, as Dear Abby used to say, MYOB, and stop wasting taxpayers’ time and money on an issue that is clearly outside their jurisdiction.

— Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who has lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his blog, Opinionfest.com.

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