To our chagrin, normally levelheaded Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has floated a cockeyed idea tainted with stereotypes.
The sheriff suggested that illegal immigration could be deterred and the border secured if schools were required to check citizenship status when students enroll.
At one point, he even suggested Arizona should challenge a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that bars such status checks at schools. But he later said he wouldn’t push for a challenge.
Dupnik’s idea is pure poppycock.
Even if the Supreme Court hadn’t already ruled on this issue, the idea that schoolchildren cause our broken immigration policies is ludicrous.
The federal government has failed repeatedly to reform our dysfunctional system, and that festering failure is the reason our nation cannot control immigration.
The idea that overburdened school personnel should suddenly be responsible for righting this wrong is preposterous.
Anyone who thinks barring immigrant children from our schools would solve our border problems isn’t thinking clearly.
Dupnik deeply disappoints us, too, with his stereotypical comments about the children of illegal immigrants; the South, Southwest and West sides of Tucson; and the Sunnyside School District.
He said social problems in those neighborhoods – failing schools, high dropout rates and gang affiliation – are caused by illegal immigration.
That is a spurious claim.
High dropout rates have plagued the entire state of Arizona, and many children of illegal immigrants have excelled academically and qualified for full university scholarships.
Failing schools have been identified throughout southern Arizona and the rest of the state, not just in some Tucson neighborhoods.
As for gang affiliation, any cursory check of upscale neighborhoods reveals gang graffiti and crime.
Indeed, all Tucson neighborhoods – including the ritziest – have “social problems,” as Dupnik puts it.
And U.S. citizens had plenty of those problems long before illegal immigration became a major trend.
Equally ridiculous is Dupnik’s contention that 4 in 10 Sunnyside students are here illegally.
By law, Sunnyside cannot make that determination. For our sheriff to spread such rumor and speculation is troubling, to say the least.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his reliance on racial profiling are an embarrassment for Arizona. Dupnik, by contrast, long has been regarded as the voice of reason.
He should apologize to those he has besmirched and refrain from such incendiary comments. He is supposed to uphold the law, not second-guess it.