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On Friday, Arizona Governor Jan Bewer signed a bill that revises the state's controversial illegal immigration bill. The revisions make it more difficult for police to use race or ethnicity as a basis for questioning. It also stipulates that police officers' immigration-status questions should come after stopping someone "while enforcing another law." Previously, the law referred to simply coming into "contact" with police.

Many see the changes as a concession that the initial bill was flawed. Taking that to heart, The Washington Post's Michael Gerson says the reversal demonstrates how foolish defenders of the initial bill are. He also says points to a common characteristic among the bill's defenders:

The conservative debate over the Arizona law has revealed a clear divide. Conservative leaders who have been critical of the measure, such as former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), Gov. Rick Perry (R-Tex.) and Florida Republican senate candidate Marco Rubio, have something in common: they have won, or they intend to win, statewide elections. Consequently, they are unenthusiastic about an unfocused, poorly written law that does little or nothing to improve border security while gratuitously offending a growing portion of the electorate.

The conservative writers who have uncritically supported the Arizona law share something as well: in general, they have never had to appeal to a voter, much less a Hispanic voter, in their lives. They have no direct responsibility for the political wreckage they leave behind. In fact, they tend to view indifference to political and demographic reality as a kind of purity test.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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