Bottom-Up Government

With the United States now being run by what some refer to as a “rogue government” or a “soft dictatorship,” some local governments and ordinary citizens are beginning a movement. Their goal is to take charge of certain issues at City Hall rather than inside the Beltway.

It’s a “bottom-up” approach that intends to let the political elites in Washington duke it out over such things as “comprehensive immigration reform” while real change is being effected at the local level.

In the current battle over what to do about illegal immigration, two sides have formed. On one side you find the Bush administration, the mainstream media, industries that want cheap labor, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, and the United States Senate. On the other side, you have the United States House of Representatives, CNN’s Lou Dobbs, talk radio, and the vast majority of the American people.

With a top-down solution from Washington in a holding pattern, the people are starting to take charge. Our guess is that frustration in cities and towns that are overrun by illegals has simply reached a boiling point. People want to know why aliens that are arrested for crimes are not having their immigration status checked. They want to know why local police simply shrug their shoulders and say, “it’s not our job.” If local police respond to the robbery of a federally chartered bank, then why shouldn’t they help enforce immigration laws?

The people, in short, are not happy.

In Houston, a so-called “sanctuary city” for illegals, a group has formed to force a citywide vote on whether the local police should check immigration status of the people it arrests. The city has another policy that forbids officers from detaining anyone solely for being in the country illegally. The group “Protect Our Citizens” aims to gather 20,000 signatures to force those policies to change.

Signatures have already been gathered in San Bernardino, California where gang violence and deteriorating schools have residents up in arms. Citizens there complain about Spanish replacing English in supermarkets, stores that showcase Mexican flags, and illegal immigrant related crime. So Joe Turner and his “Save Our State” group got to work.

They drafted a proposal known as “The San Bernardino Illegal Immigrant Relief Act” that calls for shutting down day labor centers, banning landlords from renting apartments to undocumented immigrants, and lifting permits from businesses that employ them. It failed to get through the city council by a vote of 4 to 3. The proposal will soon go before the people in a special election unless opponents can tie it up in court.

The movement in San Bernardino has spread to Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a town of about 30,000, where the city council is nearing approval of a similar ordinance. Mayor Lou Barletta, frustrated by Washington’s inaction, was looking for a way to solve the problem when he came across the San Bernardino measure. To Barletta, it was a bottom-up way to protect the borders of his city.

Illegal immigration elites in the worlds of politics, business and academia are in a snit. Armando Navarro, a University of California Riverside professor (of ethnic studies, no less) is also coordinator for the National Alliance for Human Rights. He’s working on a strategy to defeat the new movement. And, as liberals always do, he will utilize the courts.

He and others like San Bernardino councilman Gordon McGinnis will tell you that this is an issue that must be handled by the federal government, and even if these local initiatives pass, they cannot be enforced. This, of course, is a liberal talking points campaign that is divorced from reality. McGinnis wants the federal government to be in charge because the federal government is on his side.

So let the battle be joined. Call it “The People vs. The Elites” and sit back and see who wins. The People have already triumphed with the election of Brian Bilbray in San Diego, Proposition 200 in Arizona, and new illegal immigration restrictions in Georgia.

Whether the elites like it or not, what happens over the next few months in Houston, San Bernardino and Hazleton may very well tell us if a true movement of “government by the people and for the people” is underway.