THE SCENE OPENS with two men walking down a long dirt road in Nogales, Arizona, near the Mexican border. The camera pans to John McCain, clad in a leather jacket and wearing a Navy baseball cap. McCain begins to enumerate the social disorders afflicting the region: "Drug and human smuggling, home invasions, murder."
"We're outmanned," Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu replies. "Of all the illegals in America, more than half come through Arizona." A concerned look flashing across his face, McCain asks, "Have we got the right plan?" He's referring to the Border Security Action Plan he introduced with his fellow Republican senator from Arizona, Jon Kyl. It would send National Guardsmen to the border, hire 3,000 new Border Patrol agents, and, as McCain put it, "complete the danged fence." "Plan's perfect," the sheriff assures him before signing off, "Senator, you're one of us."
It's just a 30-second television ad, but its message may decide Arizona's Aug. 24 primary for the Republican senatorial nomination. Arizona has become ground zero in the fight over illegal immigration. The legislature has enacted a series of tough new laws aimed at making attrition through enforcement the official state policy, the latest of which controversially allows police officers to ask for proof of legal status when, during the course of their work, they encounter someone they have a "reasonable suspicion" might be illegal.
This law, with its "papers, please" connotations, has …