Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

Oh well, at least there’s still the other 49 states

April 28, 2010

It must be rough for the people and lawmakers of Arizona (not that lawmakers are not people, well at least not ALL lawmakers are not people….lets just move along). They have this huge problem on their hands (and apparently everywhere else in the state); a huge influx of illegal immigrants from “across the border”. To ‘solve” this problem, they came up with Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070), which was signed into law by the Governor on April 23, 2010.

The first problem (in a loooooong list of problems), is that no matter how you spin it, it is very difficult NOT to interpret this law as racist. Now, I am not saying that it is a racist law. What I AM saying is that it could be interpreted as such. The general sense you get from all the comments (some of which there is no mistaking the racist sentiments), is that this law is aimed squarely at people from neighboring Mexico. This is what makes it tricky. How do you institute a law that everyone KNOWS its primary target is one particular group, yet put forward the argument that it is not meant to be discriminatory. Well, it might not be MEANT to be, but………. Since proving intent is not the easiest thing on the planet to do I guess they’ll be ok. It takes nothing short of mind reading to say with any level of confidence that you know what someone intended. In most cases, you can only go by what they say, and assume that they mean what they say. So if the lawmakers say it’s not meant to be discriminatory, then it must not be.

Another problem they have (and this one is especially interesting) is enforcement. There is something in the law called “Lawful Contact”. Basically if during lawful contact, a police offer suspects that your immigration status may be in question, he/she can make you “stand and deliver”……your papers verifying your status. Now lawful contact (as far as I see it anyway) could be you walking down the street and asking a police officer for directions (a logical thing to do if you’re not sure of something). The fact that you’re lost, could in itself be used as the basis for suspicion; “Excuse me officer, I am looking for the Grand Canyon, could you tell me where it is?….You don’t know where the Grand Canyon is? SHOW ME YOUR PAPERS!!!! Yeah……this could get very messy, very quickly.

I’m not sure how much thought was put into this because to both the untrained and even the trained eye, an illegal immigrant looks no different from a “legal” immigrant, or, for that matter, a U.S. citizen. So lets assume for one second that I am right (in complete opposition to the apparently overwhelming evidence to the contrary), and immigrants, non-immigrants, citizens and whatever other classification there is, all look alike (or at least similar). Does this then mean that every single person in Arizona (or at least every single person who looks a certain way), needs to be walking around with their “papers”. The way this thing is playing out, things are about to get “muy caliente” in the Sunshine State.

But wait, it gets better, after you have lawfully contacted the police (or the police has lawfully contacted you, I’m not too sure how it goes), and the police has a “reasonable suspicion” that the person so contacted is unlawfully present in the United States (don’t you just love lawyer talk), then a “reasonable attempt” will be made, if it is “practicable”, to determine the person’s immigration status. Now get this, they will be verifying the person’s status with the federal government. Hmmmmmm, now I know people who have literally waited decades for the federal government to “verify their status” by issuing them a green card after the applicants have jumped through all the required hoops. That being said, I really would like to meet the guy who put the words reasonable, practical, and immigration in the same paragraph as federal government.

I am not trying to simplify Arizona’s problem; they have about a half million people (almost 10% of the state’s population) living in the state illegally. Illegal or not, these people utilize services and facilities that they are not contributing to. This is a valid argument and should never be underestimated; something should be done. What Arizona is trying to do, however, is not the something that should be done. The reality is that the majority of these people have probably been in the state for several years now. They have families, children who are U.S. citizens. Are they really suggesting that potentially hundreds of thousands of families simply be dissolved, or are they also advocating the deportation of U.S. citizens, or perhaps we’ll soon be hearing of plans to rescind the citizenship of children of illegals. This could be a very slippery slope.

While it might “solve” Arizona’s illegal immigrant problem, SB 1070 is bound to have other, perhaps more serious implications. Mexico is Arizona’s neighbor and, therefore, the primary “contributor” to the state’s illegal immigrant population. Thing is though, Mexico also consumes about one-third of Arizona’s exports. I’m not sure how Arizona politics works, but I doubt that the state will find it “practicable” to get by with two-thirds of their export money. Not only that, but even other American states are up in arms against Arizona and are threatening to cut, or at least severely decrease economic ties with them. There are also a string of legal challenges waiting to be launched when the law come into effect. Let the good times roll.

All in all, it will be an interesting few months, at the end of which this law will not be enacted. In fact it may be as early as next week, when we hear that Arizona is beginning to shift its stance. John McCain and all his cohorts were probably right. We might just see a repeal yet, just not a repeal of health reform. Sure, they’ll try to save face, but the reality is that Arizona is now a hostile environment for anybody who “looks” illegal whether they actually are or not, and despite claims that race will not be the primary driver in this whole “reasonable suspicion” thing, I’m pretty sure the only “white Russians” the Arizona police will be dealing with, will be in the bars. The ‘three amigos”, however, may find themselves behind bars. Hmmm, I wonder if they have room for the remaining 497,997…….

In the mean time, although I don’t “fit the profile”, I will be steering clear of Arizona. I don’t need to see the Grand Canyon badly enough to be asked for papers by someone who has no clue what they are really asking for. I’ve seen what “reasonable suspicion” looks like (I watch tv) and, for me, it’s just not “practicable”.

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