Thinking of First Responders

By W.D. Reasoner on September 11, 2011

It's natural that, with the advent of the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks on our nation, one's thoughts would drift to the first responders who go about protecting us throughout the nation on a daily basis. They so often go unnoticed until trauma or tragedy strikes, as it did so quickly and so violently on September 11, 2001. It's a sad truism that only then do we seem to stop, take stock, and come to recognize their dedication and quiet heroism.

"First responders" are almost inevitably the state and local police, firefighters, emergency medical workers who live side-by-side with us. This is no surprise. Even in times of starkly drawn political lines about the size and role of the federal government in our lives, the fact remains that the federal government is not, will never be, and should not be, so large as to effectively supplant the role of those who live and work in, but at the same time serve, their communities as first responders.

They are there, working against the scourge of drug trafficking and crime, vigilant against the possibility of a terrorist attack, planning constantly to mitigate the effects of natural or man-made disaster and calamity. First responders are, and must be, Americans' front line in a many-layered defense against the dangers we confront in a modern world.

How, then, is it that the Obama administration does not recognize this essential role in combating the effects of unrestrained illegal immigration? To date, this administration has filed suit against two states – Arizona and Alabama – which have committed the apparently unpardonable dual sin of (1) enacting laws permitting their first responders to assist the federal government in the vast effort of enforcing the nation's immigration laws, and thus (2) protecting their citizens from the undesirable consequences of such immigration – consequences that manifest themselves in crime and recidivism, overstressed and financially broke social welfare and community medical systems, and the out-of-control jobless rate – all impacts felt most immediately by states and their communities, not federal bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

The Supreme Court has a chance to fix this. Let's hope they, too, are thinking about the role of first responders during this time of sorrow and sober reflection.