HOLDEN – The Maine Civil Liberties Union recently described the Arizona immigration law as “anti-immigrant,” claiming that the measure will lead to racial profiling and calling on legislators to “affirm” the rights of “people of color.”

Is the MCLU right? What does this law actually say? And why do 70 percent of Arizonans support it, according to a Rasmussen poll?

The federal government estimates that 560,000 illegal immigrants reside in Arizona. They have swamped schools, jails, courts and hospital emergency rooms, causing enormous social service costs for the Arizona taxpayer.

They’ve also left trails of garbage and destruction from the border mayhem in our national parks. They have entered homes, stolen anything unprotected and terrorized ranching communities.

In Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous, 22 percent of the felonies are committed by illegal immigrants, according to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Many are gang members and transport drugs. And hundreds have died gruesome deaths in the desert.

Although many illegal immigrants are simply poor people who are trying to “make a better life,” their enormous numbers and their willingness to break our laws has created this chaos. And the people of Arizona got fed up.

Contrary to what we’ve heard, the Arizona law does not allow police officers to stop Hispanics willy-nilly and interrogate them. It kicks in only when an officer stops, detains or arrests a person for another reason.

After the stop is made, should the officer have reasonable suspicion that the detainee is here illegally, the officer is required to call the Immigration and Customs Enforcement 24/7 hot line to determine the person’s legal status. The law specifically prohibits race as grounds to suspect that a person is here illegally.

It has been a federal crime since 1940 for foreign nationals to fail to carry their registration documents. U.S. citizens comply with the same requirements when we travel abroad. The Arizona law merely reaffirms this federal requirement.

Whenever decisive immigration law enforcement, of any kind, is introduced, immigrant advocates always claim racism.

For example, 287(g) is a federal program that allows local police to enforce federal immigration law after undergoing training. Immigrant advocates claimed that it led to racial profiling. The Government Accountability Office studied the program and found no documented pattern of profiling.

Immigrant advocates also complained about E-Verify, the electronic system employers use to verify an employee’s documents. Again, the charges were studied and found to be baseless. But make a baseless claim often enough, and the gullible will believe it.

Ten years ago, President Clinton’s U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform recommended that Congress crack down on illegal immigration. (See the commission’s report “Restoring Credibility” at www.utexas.edu/lbj/uscir.)

Instead, Congress passed multiple amnesties; let states provide illegal immigrants with many taxpayer-funded benefits; blocked effective workplace enforcement with employer sanctions; and looked away from “catch and release” and sanctuary city policies that openly defied federal law.

Congress even allowed foreign governments to issue identification cards to their illegal nationals in America and then demanded that American businesses and municipalities accept these cards.

And another massive amnesty has just been introduced, referred to as “comprehensive immigration reform.” Is this the behavior of a government intent on stopping illegal migration, or one intent on creating open borders?

The real threat of the Arizona immigration law is that it will effectively stop illegal immigration, embarrass Congress and frustrate the open-borders agenda in Washington.

The charge of racism against “people of color” is a red herring. In fact, when immigration laws are enforced and illegals return home, those jobs will open up for 300,000 unemployed Arizonans. And many of them are also “people of color,” just as many of the police officers enforcing this law are “people of color.”

We face a decision. Is America going to have a lawful immigration system that sets limits and enforces those limits on behalf of our citizens, like every other country in the world? Or are we going to turn ourselves into a borderless economic region of migrating consumers and workers, everyone out for himself?

The corporate political elite and immigrant advocates want open borders. But the people are tenaciously clinging to their nation state, trusting in laws, borders, regulated immigration and our loyalty to each other. The Arizona law is about protecting the jobs of our people.

It’s common sense. It’s fair. And it’s the right thing to do.