CNN's Larry King Still Doesn't Understand Arizona's Anti-Illegal Immigration Law

It's been more than three months since Governor Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.) signed SB-1070 into law, but Larry King continues to misrepresent both the spirit and letter of the popular anti-illegal immigration measure. On his eponymous program yesterday, the CNN host asked a guest if the law codifies racial profiling and empowers police officers to arbitrarily question and detain those suspected of being in the country illegally.

"One of the things in this law that's puzzling that [Judge Susan Bolton] pointed out is – and a police officer was on a recent show discussing it – you can just stop a person on the street and just question who they are based on the way they look or their appearance?" asked King, directing his question at Jim Gilchrist, founder of Minuteman Project, a conservative group that supports the Arizona law.

Gilchrist attempted to correct King's faulty assumptions about the law, but the CNN veteran was recalcitrant: "So why were so many cops upset with this, saying it would put them in a difficult position?"

A puzzled Gilchrist pressed King to clarify specifically which police officers are opposed to the law, but King could only reiterate his fatuous assertion about the law: "But the rule of law is it's okay to stop a citizen and question them?" Despite the fact that proponents of the law shored up anti-discrimination language after the law was passed, King repeatedly insisted that the law invites police abuses.

Later in the interview, King flung more liberal propaganda at Gilchrist: "Jim, isn't it a federal problem? Not an Arizona problem?" Of course, every day local and state police enforce federal laws, arresting criminals on federal drug or weapons charges, for example, but that inconveninent fact didn't stop him from regurgitating one of the Left's most trite memes.

In contrast, the line of questioning directed at King's liberal guest, Univision's Jorge Ramos, was much less hostile. King lamented the federal judge's decision to issue only a temporary injunction against the law and asked the amnesty advocate if he thinks the case will reach the Supreme Court. Additionally, King failed to challenge Ramos's claim that referring to those who violate federal immigration law as "illegal immigrants" makes them sound like "criminals" and "terrorists." The CNN host apparently did not think it was appropriate to clarify that while most illegal immigrants are not terrorists, all illegal immigrants are lawbreakers and the porous southern border makes it easier for terrorists, drug traffickers, and gun runners to enter the country.

A transcript of the segment can be found below:
CNN
Larry King
July 28, 2010

9:01 P.M. E.S.T.

LARRY KING: Good evening. Jim Gilchrist is founder and president of the Minuteman Project. Their aim, to prevent illegal immigration across the southern United States border. Jorge Ramos is an anchor for Univision and author of A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto. They're on opposite sides of the immigration issue. It came to a head today when Judge Susan Bolton granted a temporary injunction that prevents police from questioning people about their immigration status. She's also blocked a provision that would make it a crime to fail to apply for or carry alien registration papers or for an unauthorized alien to solicit, apply for or perform work. These provisions were to go into effect less than 24 hours from now in Arizona. You disagreed, I guess, with her decision, Jim. Why?

JIM GILCHRIST, founder, Minuteman Project: I certainly disagreed. I feel the statement she made to the American public is that the United States is no longer a nation governed by laws. The rule of law essentially is meaningless. Certainly to Jane and Joe average America out there. And I believe there is a lot of pandering being involved here that's coming down from the Obama administration. And that is to --

KING: That has nothing to do with the federal judge's decision.

GILCHRIST: I -- I think --

KING: You're not questioning a federal judge, though?

GILCHRIST: Not really, not -- but I do believe there's certainly some influence coming down from Obama for her to defeat Arizona's attempt to re-establish itself as a sovereign state.

KING: It was -- Jorge, I gather you agree with this. It is, Jorge, though, just a temporary injunction. It can be released in two days if they file an appeal to it, right?

JORGE RAMOS, Univision anchor: Right, and it can change anytime. The important thing is that for Hispanics and for immigrants, it's a step in the right direction, but it is simply not enough. Because what we're doing right now, Larry, is managing a problem, not finding a long-term solution. President Barack Obama promised that he was going to have an immigration bill during his first year in office and he broke a promise. But Democrats don't have the political courage right now to push for immigration reform in Congress. And Republicans -- Republicans are missing in action on immigration. Where are the 11 Republicans that voted for immigration three years ago? So this is not a Democratic or a Republican issue. This is an American issue. And we don't have immigration reform right now. So the news today, and that's the tragedy. The news today is that nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed. Everything is still the same. And I still can't believe that the most powerful country in the world is persecuting the most vulnerable, 11 million people.

KING: George Bush also supported immigration laws that you would have disagreed with.

GILCHRIST: Certainly did.

RAMOS: That's true.

GILCHRIST: I was a staunch opponent --

KING: Hold it. Go ahead, Jim.

GILCHRIST: I was a staunch opponent of President Bush, as well as Obama.

KING: One of the things in this law that's puzzling that she pointed out is – and a police officer was on a recent show discussing it – you can just stop a person on the street and just question who they are based on the way they look or their appearance?

GILCHRIST: No. No. Larry, the misconception from coast to coast on this law that was written by and crafted by one of the most well-renowned scholars in immigration and constitutional law, Chris Coback -- what has been missing is that the rule of law is absolutely blind to race, color, creed, age, sexual preference.

RAMOS: But it's not a misconception --

KING: So why were so many cops upset with this, saying it would put them in a difficult position?

GILCHRIST: I'm sorry. Who is upset?

KING: Cops.

GILCHRIST: Police? Some police? Perhaps they don't want to enforce the rule of law. Perhaps they --

KING: But the rule of law is it's okay to stop a citizen and question them?

GILCHRIST: I would say no. No, I would hold a line. If that person is conducting him or herself in a manner that would require law enforcement to question that person or intercept that person, certainly. DUI driving. Responding to an officer "no hablo English, Gringo, go back to Europe." Obviously, there's an issue there that probably the person may be illegal and perhaps the officer should pursue that.

KING: Jorge, you don't want more illegal immigrants coming in, do you?

RAMOS: Well, first of all, I don't call them illegal immigrants because many people, by using the term illegal, they might think that they're criminals or they're terrorists. I think we can agree on many things. We can agree that the system is broken, responding to your question. Nobody likes undocumented immigration, not even undocumented immigrants. But I think we can also agree with the fact that we cannot separate families. I think we can all agree that we can't deport 11 million people. And I think we can agree that we have to do something about it. He was talking about what happens with Latinos and with immigrants in this country. It's not a misperception. If you are African-American or Hispanic in New York, you are more likely to be detained by the police according to "The New York Times" and according to ACLU. Here in Arizona, if you're Hispanic, you're simply more likely to be detained also by the police simply because of the color of your skin or maybe because an accent just like mine, an accent in English. So the fact that they're immigrants, again, something has to be done on immigration. And the decision taken today in Arizona is an important one. But it is simply not enough. Again,  this country was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, Larry, and right now there are many, many millions of people in the United States who are not being treated equally.

KING: Jim, isn't it a federal problem? Not an Arizona problem?

GILCHRIST: No, it's an Arizona problem. It's a California problem. It's a problem for every state in the union. All 50 states, the United States, are now border states. Don't believe me?

KING: So therefore isn't is a federal problem?

GILCHRIST: Ask Representative Peter Colombo from Providence, Rhode Island or the Rhode Island area, who's putting together the very first delegation of Republican politicians and Democratic politicians -- this man is a Democrat -- bringing them to Arizona to tour the border and hopefully to have an audience with Governor Brewer to show their support. This is, I would call it a phenomenon. Both parties historically have fought each other over this issue. Now we've got this Peter Colombo from Rhode Island who's bringing both parties together to solve this problem under the rule of law.

KING: You think it's pretty sure we're going to the U.S. Supreme Court on this?

GILCHRIST: Absolutely. It will be tested at the U.S. Supreme Court and I think the U.S. Supreme Court will show that Arizona was correct.

KING: Jorge, you think it's going to the Supreme Court, too?

RAMOS: It might go to the Supreme Court but I'd really, I would rather have it go to Congress. I mean, they, if they have enough, if they have 60 votes to extend unemployment benefits, if they have 60 votes for financial reform, if they have 60 votes to get a new judge in the Supreme Court, how come they can't get 60 votes for immigration reform? Now I don't think it's an Arizona problem. I don't think it's a California problem. It's an American problem that has to be resolved.

KING: We're going to devote a lot more time to this. We've got a lot of guests.

Thank you, Jorge, thanks, Jim.

RAMOS: Thank you.

GILCHRIST: Thank you, Larry. Thank you, Jorge.