per·ni·cious \pər-'ni-shəs\ adj.: highly injurious or destructive : deadly
Sounds like a pretty harsh word to describe something, right? So whatever the word pernicious is describing must be pretty bad.
But leave it to The New York Times editorial board to throw this lingo around like it's no big deal. In a July 8 over-the-top editorial, the Times ripped the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law over its constitutionality.
"The Obama administration has not always been completely clear about its immigration agenda, but it was forthright Tuesday when it challenged the pernicious Arizona law that allows the police to question the immigration status of people they detain for local violations," the editorial said. "Only the federal government can set or enforce immigration policy, the government said in its lawsuit against the state, and ‘Arizona has crossed this constitutional line.'"
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The editorial goes on to whine that the Arizona legislation interferes with the federal government's ability to enforce immigration law, as if everything is operating so swimmingly under the Obama administration's direction. But a July 7 post from the Heritage Foundation's The Foundry blog explains the unconstitutionality claim "nonsense":
First, the Justice Department claims that Arizona is unconstitutionally interfering with the federal government's authority to set immigration policy. This claim is nonsense. Arizona is not interfering with the federal government's immigration policy as it is set in the laws passed by Congress. Arizona is simply complementing and helping the federal government enforce its immigration laws. On the other hand, states that give illegal aliens drivers licenses and sanctuary cities like San Francisco that help illegal aliens violate immigration laws do interfere with federal law, but, as evidenced by the lack of federal lawsuits in those cases, this Administration has no interest in suing to stop that kind of interference. The Obama Administration thus appears to only be interested in stopping enforcement of federal law, not its violation.
But the Times editorial suggests the Obama administration act against the Arizona government by restricting their ability to enforce the new law.
"In the meantime, there are steps President Obama can take," the editorial said. "He can deny Arizona access to federal databases of immigration status and refuse to allow the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to cooperate with state officials in handling people detained under the law. The government should end the misguided program allowing local deputies to enforce immigration law after taking an educational course."
On the Fox Business Network's July 8 broadcast of "Imus in the Morning," Newsweek and National Journal contributing editor Stuart Taylor, of all people even criticized the Times for its "overheated hysteria."
"It struck me the exact same way when I read The New York Times as usual this morning and yeah, that word [pernicious] jumped off the page at me and it is typical of The New York Times, overheated hysteria, I think," Taylor said. "I tend to agree the law has got problems and is troublesome and that it may be unconstitutional and I think it's going to be a close call how the courts handle it. But it's also, a law where you can certainly understand why the people of Arizona think it is a good idea. They're being overrun by illegal immigrants and their hospitals are full of them. Their schools are full of them. They're drug dealers in the house next door sometimes. And so the state decided they needed to do something about it. The federal government is not doing much about it but, there are problems with how the state's law would operate and there are problems of what you call federal preemption that would interfere with federal immigration law. But pernicious is overkill."