February 5, 2012
Arizona Immigration – Where do you stand?
Off Beat and Off Topic:
Sustainability aside, where do you stand?
The immigration law that passed in Arizona has unleashed a landslide of controversy that spans coast to coast. The issue has stirred up enough debate with strong feelings splitting both sides that several cities in California are enacting the equivalent of a state embargo on Arizona businesses. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Berkeley are the first to take a stand against the law that has been assumed to perpetrate racial profiling, but what does this law mean really?
There have been several arguments from the leftists warning that this law will allow for the legal racial profiling of Hispanic Americans by state law enforcement officials. The current allegations from the far left is that police will have the authority and the responsibility of stopping random people on the street if they have dark skin and dark hair, effectively harassing them and bypassing all due process. This would be a grave mistake on the part of any officer because it would be a violation of the constitution and the very fabric on which our country has been based. This kind of outright profiling would not be tolerated on the streets, much less pass in courts.
This is an extreme misconception of the way that this law will or should be enforced. Police will NOT be able to stop people just because of the way they look; however, law enforcement will be required to check the identification of any person who has “lawful contact” with them. This would require people to carry a driver’s license or some kind of identification while they are being arrested or filing police complaints. At first glance, this may seem like it would scare illegal immigrants from filing any kind of official report against harassment or legitimate problems that we all experience, but, the thing is, illegal immigrants are generally too scared to have any contact with authorities anyways and avoid filing legal complaints or ask for help at all costs. Generally, most people already carry their driver’s license or identification with them anyways because they need it for various reasons, so this would not inconvenience law abiding citizens in any substantial way.
This sweeping immigration reform has been enacted in response to an admitted long standing problem from both sides of the argument. There is no controversy over whether or not our southern border is too porous, the controversy is how do we fix this problem? For the past several decades, president after president has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into our border security, but nothing has worked. Strategies from giant fences to border patrols have failed time and again, but it was never as imperative an issue as it is now that Mexican drug cartels are openly killing each other in the streets and corruption has run deep into the government. It has gotten to the point where the government cannot control its own populace and the dangers of the drug trade have spilled over to the consciousness of Americans. Have you ever had a friend roughed up by the policia in a Mexican tourist town only to have them drive your friend to an ATM where they demand $200 from him or threaten him with jail if he refuses to comply? This is the kind of widespread corruption that undermines Mexican authorities and strikes fear into Arizona suburbs everywhere, not to mention the constant stream of drugs and money that flow to and from America across the border.
This scare of drug smugglers, corrupt policemen, and our sieve of a border is magnified by the recent report that our four decade War on Drugs has not accomplished a thing. US Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske admits that “forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.” This intensification of our drug problems comes after the drug budget has been increased to $15.1 billion a year, yet tangible results elude our grasps. This abject failure to stem the constant flow of narcotics into our country has provided Arizona the initiative to enact its controversial immigration law.
If the Federal government cannot take care of it, then it is up to the state to fix its own problems. The intense federal opposition to the law comes as a surprise because Arizona’s law mirrors that of the Federal government. The only difference is that Arizona will make a strong effort to enforce it. Unfortunately, this hardline approach to illegal immigration seems like a complete 180 degree from America’s reputation as a bastion of hope and safety for refugees fleeing the persecution and dangers of their homeland. Conservatives will argue that these illegal immigrants are taking American jobs and posing a drain on our public services. The question is, then, “do you want the job these illegals are working?” These jobs are the least desirable of any in the country, involving long hours and intense physical labor while the pay is considerably less than minimum wage. Who is it you think would be willing to take these jobs for that amount of money, even in an economy such as this. Although there is some legitimacy to the complaint that immigrants fill the emergency room asking for free medical care (emergency rooms cannot legally or morally turn anyone away) which we pay for through our taxes. Problems like these are not the norm and the money we lose in taxes to public services that they use is probably less than the $15.1 billion we throw away on a drug war that does nothing.
Now, where do you stand on the immigration law? Where do I stand?… Unfortunately, this is one of those rare instances where I am siding with the Republicans and supporting Arizona in their efforts to fix a long standing problem that seemed to have no end. For decades illegal immigration has plagued America and now that a state is trying to do something about it, just about everyone is trying to take them down for it. At least Arizona is trying something, not just sitting on their hands and complaining about it like the rest of the country. The most important thing is that it is working, illegals have been reporting that they are leaving the state because of the law’s enactment, and some have even told reporters that they will not be bringing their families over from Mexico over as planned. The law has not even gone into enforcement yet and it’s already working. However, this all depends on how the law is enforced by police and other officials in the state of Arizona. If they are going to check identification when someone commits a crime or has some contact with state officials, then we should all be supporting their efforts. The only problem is that it only takes one overzealous police officer to bring a proverbial shit storm down on the entire state, and when that happens there will be riots, demonstrations, and the issue that has already been blown out of proportion will only get bigger. Have no doubt; there will be a pigheaded police officer who screws this up for everybody.