Dear Editor:

I find it interesting that two of the most compelling issues of 2010 actually are not all that different.

Months ago, when the BP Gulf oil disaster became common knowledge, the evening news, newspapers and gossip of the day centered almost exclusively on that event. Scholars from all areas opined as to the short-term risks, the long-term ramifications and the fringe effects of the leaking oil pipe. It was generally recognized that, although the Gulf would suffer the most extreme of damages, the ripple effect of the leak would be felt throughout the country - even the world. The leak is insidious - not so nightmarish to cause blinding panic or general outcry but, over time, it represents a ticking time bomb. It remains, however, that the Louisiana coast would suffer the greatest of all. It was, after all, in close proximity of the leak. Sadly, the people of the Gulf coast region had done nothing wrong - they did not deserve this unintended plight. The country was, as one, in agreement that the disaster should, and could, be the focus of the utmost effort to resolve.

Interestingly, when the focus shifts to the immigration problem, however, the sympathy evaporates. The Arizona-Mexico border is the very epicenter of the immigration problem. And, yes, it is a problem! If it wasn't, we would have long ago simply opened the border. Today, the issues of unemployment, drug trafficking, human trafficking and even terrorism, to name a few, are all intimately intertwined with the matter of illegal immigration. The unimpeded migration of Mexican nationals into the United States must be a national concern.

The Arizona-Mexico border is the broken oil spout of the immigration problem! It is over, across and under the Arizona-Mexico border that so many undocumented aliens make their way into these United States. The flood of immigrants continues unabated - affecting the majority of the country, yet having as its source one generally identifiable location.

Don't get me wrong, we all agree that oil, by itself, is neither good nor bad. It can be good or it can be the basis of great harm. But, alone, it is neutral. Nonetheless, it is not meant to travel wherever and at whatever rate it chooses and, most importantly, the free and uninhibited migration of the oil must be contained and controlled. Similarly, there is no fault on the part of the majority of the immigrants and, individually, there is no culpability. As a whole, however, the sheer number (the amount) creates the problem.

Interestingly, neither the federal government nor the people of any other state would (or should) rise up against Louisiana if that state, along with BP, endeavored to resolve the oil leak problem. If the government (with or without BP) failed to timely resolve the problem, would any person legitimately question the right of Louisiana to fix (or attempt to fix) a catastrophe that is destined to impact the people of that state, the nation and the world for the foreseeable future and beyond? Would pundits allege that Louisiana was a bad place because it attempted to remedy a problem that is predominantly local to that state? Would Louisiana be boycotted? "Bad, Louisiana, how dare you try and protect yourself against the oil. It just wants to be free!" The answer across the board is a resounding, "Certainly not!"

Yet, with acrimony, the people of Arizona, and this state's officials, are attacked as insensitive bigots and troublemakers simply for trying to resolve a problem of national significance. We are, at least, trying to find a remedy. Perhaps we should simply let the oil gush. Or find a private scapegoat upon which we can heap the blame. Maybe we just wait until the problem is so widespread as to have no resolution and then it wouldn't matter anymore.

SB 1070 may only be a cap on the spout that can be easily dislodged. Perhaps it is not a final solution. But, SB 1070 is an attempt to create a positive result. It is a step in the effort to solve a problem. It is a step that is within federal guidelines and one that would be acceptable throughout the world. Unfortunately, the attack of SB 1070 may also be a panacea of lagging voter confidence levels, a declining economy and a generally unhappy existence. It is not, sadly, the first time Arizona has been thrown under the bus by the federal government for "national" causes!

It is, I suppose, easy to overlook a major problem when you are simply mildly annoyed because you can't get a shrimp cocktail because the oil leak has ruined the shrimp harvest, or perhaps when you are peeved that your Gulf vacation plans are interfered with. But think of how you would feel if you lived, worked and played in the Gulf coast region of Louisiana and your state, its people, animals and environs were so negatively impacted by something they had no hand in creating ... and then ponder how you would feel if you lived in Arizona.

Joseph A. Herbert

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