Many Arizonans – and Americans – would agree that illegal immigration is a tad problematic.
We’d get into some examples of its detriments, but we’re trying to keep write-ups somewhere under 500 pages.
Senate Bill 1070, which passed the House of Representatives by a 35 to 21 vote last week, aims to help correct this mild concern.
The summary says the bill “Requires officials and agencies of the state and political subdivisions to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws and gives county attorneys subpoena power in certain investigations of employers.”
That doesn’t sound too unreasonable. It also:
“Establishes crimes involving trespassing by illegal aliens, stopping to hire or soliciting work under specified circumstances, and transporting, harboring or concealing unlawful aliens, and their respective penalties.”
The bottom line is the bill requires local law enforcement to be obligated to do something other than ignore illegal immigrants if it encounters them. Violators would be slapped with a misdemeanor unless they are in the midst of other criminal activity, in which case the violation would be upped to a felony. Punishment could include jail time and fines.
Those who oppose the bill are already flinging phrases like “police state” and “racial profiling.”
“It’s beyond the pale,” the L.A. Times quoted Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “It appears to mandate racial profiling.”
“That is an unprecedented expansion of police power,” the Detroit Free Press quoted Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. “It’s giving police officers a green light to harass anyone who looks or sounds foreign.”
A letter to Gov. Jan Brewer from Hispanic News says the bill’s passage into law will all but kill tourism and economic development:
“(The Governor signing the bill perpetrates) a movement to spread the message across America that anyone who visits or considers Arizona to expand or start a new business, condones Arizona becoming a police state.”
One more voice of dissent, this one from a Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc., news release:
“If signed into law, this bill would make it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona. It would also allow police to check a person’s immigration status based on only a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that they are undocumented.
“This bill opens the door for racial profiling and blatant discrimination by authorizing police to stop anyone they perceive to appear ‘illegal’ and subject him or her to an immigration status check without the individual having violated any law.”
Sounds like a full-fledged panic attack. But is the panic warranted?
Anyone in the country legally would have the proper documents. Even U.S. citizens should be carrying identification at all times. Folks who have been pulled over without having their driver’s license knows this one all too well. Besides, it also helps identify the body if we happen to be murdered and thrown in a ditch.
As far as “stop(ping) anyone they perceived to appear ‘illegal,’” the bill’s summary says enforcement of the bill:
“Requires a reasonable attempt to be made to determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state or a county, city, town or political subdivision (political subdivision) if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.” (Bold emphasis mine.)
Is randomly pulling people over considered legitimate contact?
The Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian told the L.A. Times that he does not think such a law would be used extensively. “Obviously, their prosecutors aren’t going to go out and prosecute every illegal alien,” he is quoted as saying. “It gives police and prosecutors another tool should they need it.”
Not sure where I stand on this one. But I do know America’s glorious melting pot is a bubbling cauldron far beyond a full boil.
What do you think?
Is this bill ridiculous or warranted?
Do you agree the bill perpetuates “racial profiling” and a “police state”?
Do you usually carry identification, regardless of your immigration status?