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By Tracy Emblem

Recently Arizona enacted its own immigration bill which potentially usurps the federal government’s authority to regulate immigration.


California Congressman Brian Bilbray, Chair of the Immigration Reform Committee, and former lobbyist for FAIR (listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center), offers no real solutions to the immigration debate. In response to Arizona’s new radical immigration bill, Bilbray supported its legality and explained that police could spot illegal immigrants merely by the way they dress. His remarks demonstrate a lack of critical thinking skills necessary for leadership in Congress on complex, human, social and economic issues.


A leader would understand that border policing is costly to taxpayers and does not produce any gross domestic product. The Arizona law requires people to produce a birth certificate or passport or be subject to jail for six months and mandates police to act as immigration officers. It costs an average of $55 a day to house a prisoner, and this average cost does not account for the administrative court costs to render an individual “guilty” or the costs of forcing children into the foster care system – costs which must also be factored into the equation.


It is also questionable that police could differentiate from legal and illegal residents in our diverse society. Consequently, Arizona’s law readily opens the door to civil rights violations because police would have the duty to detain and incarcerate until a person could produce documentation of citizenship. In other words, many innocent people could get swept up in the net until they could prove their innocence.


So according to Bilbray, its okay for Arizona to foot this bill while his committee on immigration reform offers no answers of its own.


Our country needs real solutions--not vigilante fascism. We must say no to a police/prison state. Now is the time for Congress to step up to the plate to resolve the major cause of illegal immigration to our country through comprehensive immigration reform. In doing this, Congress must also find a way to insure that Mexico deals with its economic problems related to poverty, employment, healthcare, drug corruption, and democratic governance because unless we change our strategy, our immigration dilemma will continue with or without immigration reform.


Tracy Emblem is an attorney and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, California's 50th District. The opinions expressed in this editorial reflect the views of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. If you wish to submit an editorial for consideration, contact

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SPLC and "hate groups"

As Attorney Emblem is (hopefully) aware, there is no legal definition for the term "hate group," which is why even the FBI does not track "hate groups."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a private fund-raising group with no mandate or authority to label anyone as anything, uses the smear "hate group" to attack its perceived opponents without accusing them of any crimes, thereby denigrating their targets without risking libel suits.

In fact, while the Better Business Bureau recently renewed FAIR's accreditation for meeting the Standards of Charitable Accountability. The SPLC, once again, failed to meet those standards, "due to a lack of commitment to transparency."

In fact, despite branding itself as a "civil rights organization," NOT ONE of the SPLC's top ten, highest paid officers is a minority.

If the SPLC is Attorney Emblem's idea of legitimate experts, I've seen better.

Richard Keefe

Mr. Keefe, The FBI actually

Mr. Keefe,

The FBI actually does track Hate Groups. This is my line of work, we track over 200 just in San Diego county alone, from website activity, blogs, etc.