Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer signed her State’s new tough immigration bill (full unedited text of SB1070) into law this week. There is heavy support from Arizona residents, but firm opposition from liberal-leaning organizations.
Arizona has been pleading for assistance from the Federal government for years, so this is not a new problem, nor did Obama cause it. Immigration was a problem Obama had promised to solve in the first year of his presidency and his failure to follow-through has given Governor Brewer no choice but to act at the State level.
The opposition comes from mainly religious, civil liberty and Latino organizations. The bill is even being compared to the Japanese internment camps of WWII and South African apartheid. Some complications with those comparisons are that those were injustices against people who had not committed a crime. Being Japanese and a rightful citizen of the United States is not a crime. Any race or ethnicity that chooses not to apply through the existing processes and laws, but reside in the U.S. anyway, is breaking current Federal law. The opposition tries to downplay the criminal aspect of illegal immigration by calling the law-breakers “undocumented workers”. Whether they work or not, they aren’t documented because they are only here by breaking the law.
Brewer is right to point out that this is a public safety matter. Crime will go down if there are fewer illegals. There are studies that have been done over the past ten years that say that illegal immigrants commit crimes at the same rate as citizens, and other studies that say the criminal rate is higher among them – especially for sexual predation. Assuming that the crime rate among illegal aliens is identical to citizens, those are still crimes. If the illegal aliens weren’t there, should it be assumed that some other person would go commit that same crime in their stead? The large number of illegal aliens in the justice system also increases costs for state and local governments.
The law does not give state law enforcement any new powers for search and seizure. The law still requires reasonable suspicion, the same tests applied for other crimes committed by both citizens or aliens. The law actually mandates that they must enforce the existing federal law to its full extent. Some might find it puzzling that they weren’t already doing that. A few new state provisions make the federal crimes into state crimes, such as failing to apply for or carry alien documentation. Perhaps the only contentious provision is that which makes it illegal to impede traffic while picking up day laborers as not all day laborers have violated immigration law. The point of contention is that perhaps they could have put this into a traffic safety bill instead, there is certainly nothing illegal or unconstitutional about it.
Many are also ignoring the economic drain these workers represent. They are undocumented and therefor do not pay federal income tax or state income tax, but they do need the roads, hospitals, services, and infrastructure provided with such taxes. Additionally, a significant sum of money is sent to Mexico directly from the migrants that do work. That money is pulled out of the U.S. economy – probably the largest reason for the objections of the Mexican government.
Should we stop immigration – surely not. We must stop illegal immigration. Immigrants should apply, be screened, documented and subject to our laws, including taxation. The screening process can help us identify undesirable criminal applicants (or weed them out naturally as they might not apply at all). They are welcome to share our country and what it has to offer, but they surely should also share the burdens that come with working and living in the United States. If health reform continues to mandate insurance, they should also be forced to buy a plan.
The process for legal immigration should also be simplified. Many argue that illegal aliens do many of the jobs that a citizen would not. Well, then open the floodgates for those skills – by allowing more in through the legal process, but don’t just tear down the gate.
President Obama has called Governor Brewer’s actions, “irresponsible”. The Governor is the chief of the executive branch for her State and so charged to enforce the laws applicable within that State. She has now had to sign a law explicitly saying that Arizona will enforce Federal laws, because the Federal government won’t. She’s performing her responsibility, by taking action when the Obama administration failed to perform theirs.