Can It Be? Are Our Newest Heroes Bill Richardson And Janet Napolitano?

Are governors Bill Richardson and Janet Napolitano sincere in their declarations that New Mexico and Arizona are in an "emergency" because of illegal aliens? That's the question that is on everyone's mind.

My answer: WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?

Whether Richardson and Napolitano are motivated by a sincere desire to protect their embattled residents or whether the two governors, up for re-election in 2006, are driven by a devious Democratic Party ploy to fulfill their venal political ambition is of no concern.(Email Napolitano and Richardson.)

It does not matter.

The important thing is that Richardson and Napolitano have become firm critics of lax border control and that they identify federal non-enforcement of immigration law as the cause for the economic and social havoc in their states.  

Read their position papers here: Richardson, Napolitano:

Consider that we now have the governors of New Mexico and Arizona loudly declaring that because of relentless illegal immigration, their states are now under siege. How much sweeter for us that Richardson,—constantly puffing himself up as the only "Hispanic" governor—and Napolitano have been up until now visible, vocal proponents of illegal immigration.

Both governors have large dossiers of ugly pro-illegal alien statements and actions. Here from dozens of examples are two:

"New Mexico is your home." "We will protect you." "You have rights here."

"Viva la raza."

John Fund gave further examples in his recent Wall Street Journal column trying to alert Republicans of the danger created by this Democratic stratagem.

But if you press me for an answer about Richardson/Napolitano's motivation, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I think reality has forced their hand.

Richardson and Napolitano must see exactly what I as a resident of California's San Joaquin Valley see.

That is that the rate of illegal immigration is so astonishing that the demographics of cities and entire counties shift at wildfire like speed.

In the last decade, the Hispanic population in Lodi has increased 125%. A week ago, I walked a one-mile radius around the Lodi Adult School where I have worked for nearly twenty years. In the late 1980s, it was a solidly middle class neighborhood of mixed ethnicities. Now it is Hispanic enclave where English is rarely heard. And the neighborhood is made up of mostly poor people who rely, in varying degrees, on social services.

The governors, who are witness to the same trends in their states, have to come up with the money to underwrite alien populations like Lodi's. And finding the funds is a growing challenge.

To understand just how pressing the need is to immediately cut off illegal immigration, read the ominous Pew Hispanic Center report that found that nearly 50% of all Mexicans want to live in the U.S.  With no end in sight, Richardson and Napolitano are compelled to act now rather than later. Why wait?

An indirect benefit of Richardson/Napolitano's public catharsis might be to give courage to notorious Republican immigration wafflers Texas Governor Rick Perry and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  They too are up for re-election in 2006. Both did well among Latino voters in their last elections. Hence, both tiptoe around illegal immigration.

Perry and Schwarzenegger know the score. But they have said that they are not considering a "state of emergency" declaration at this time. Nevertheless, they have given abundant clues that such an announcement might not be far off. Conditions in Texas and California certainly warrant it.

In his May 2005 letter to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee taking her to task for criticizing the Minuteman Project, Perry wrote:

"…I fully understand and can appreciate the frustration that many Texans and others across the nation have with illegal immigration, its potential impact on our national security and the unacceptable burden it is placing on taxpayers, and state and local criminal justice, education, and health care systems." [Gov. Perry Responds to Congresswoman Jackson Lee Concerning the Minuteman Project ]

And Schwarzenegger, in a story reported on San Diego's News 10, speaking about possibly declaring a state of emergency said:  

"We're talking about that right now. If we see a need for that, we definitely will do the same thing. We all have talked about the importance of really securing the borders.

"It is not just the flow of illegal immigrants that are coming over here, but it is also the drug trafficking that is going on, the violence that is going on on the borders and the human trafficking. [Governor Considers Declaring Border Emergency]

Schwarzenegger ended his remarks by disingenuously and incorrectly claiming that there is no need to declare a state of emergency at the moment since "things are somewhat under control". However, his comments about drugs, violence and human trafficking echo those of Richardson and Napolitano.

Adding the voices of Republicans Perry and Schwarzenegger to those of Democrats Richardson and Napolitano is critical. Once prominent state leaders from both parties speak out, then any suggestion that illegal immigration is being used as a partisan or wedge issue dies.

Rush Limbaugh said that Richardson and Napolitano's move on illegal immigration was an effort "simply for show" by the Democrats to beat the immigration brain-dead Republicans to the punch. But what would Limbaugh and the like-minded Wall Street Journal say if Perry and Schwarzenegger declare emergencies?

Illegal immigration is a national issue worthy of the full attention of Republicans and Democrats alike. As Limbaugh said, noting that illegal immigration is the number one social issue in the nation,

"The American people are concerned about the fate and future of the country."

In the meantime, while Perry and Schwarzenegger ponder, I repeat that whether Richardson and Napolitano are the real deal or phony baloneys, the bottom line is all the same to us.

Their apparent conversion to our side is the greatest triumph for the immigration reform movement that I can remember.

Applaud Governors Richardson and Napolitano.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.