May 4, 2010

IMMIGRATION: The assault on Arizona

by Jenna Shoffner

Few topics are as conflict-riddled as illegal immigration, but virtually no other state has as much division about illegal immigration as Arizona. 

The state of Arizona passed Senate Bill 1070 April 23, considered “the toughest law of its kind anywhere in the country,” according to ABC News. Under this new regulation, police are required to investigate any individual on whom there is “reasonable doubt” of American citizenship. Legal immigration papers must be produced in order to comply with the law and violators may be arrested and jailed for up to six months or incur a fine of up to $2,500, according to Fox News. 

The new law is met with strong opposition from within and outside of the state. Immigration rights groups are “horrified” and claim Arizona will become a “police state,” according to the LA Times. 

Juan Carlos Ruiz, director of the Latino Foundation of Greater Washington, voiced his concern of the implications of SB 1070. He fears that decades of efforts defending civil rights will be in vain due to the law.

“We cannot go back to this slave patrol era … This type of legislation is against the Constitution of the United States,” Ruiz said, according to Fox News.

However, Arizona Sen. Ron Gould ensures that the law is not opposed to the Constitution.

 “The law is clearly within the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. It doesn’t allow officers to contact people on the basis of race,” Gould said, according to Fox News.

Ruiz represents the opinion of many protesters of the law. Yes, civil rights are necessary for a country to ensure that all are free. However, this does not mean that all are free to be in the nation illegally.  

Racial profiling is a major concern for many who oppose SB 1070. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, however, recants such accusations. 

“Police officers are going to be respectful.  They know what the laws are.  Racial profiling is illegal,” Brewer said, according to a Tucson, Ariz., Fox News affiliate.

The law does have the potential to create allegations of racism. However, it clearly states that police may only question an individual’s citizenship if there is sure and reasonable doubt, according to Fox News. If Arizona’s police enforce in a respectful manner with no angle toward racism as SB 1070 intends, there should be little cause for the “Nazi-ism” of which many are prematurely complaining. 

“The national media has distorted SB 1070 to the point that its reputation no longer bears any resemblance to what the bill actually does. Those who claim it is racist, or will foster a Nazi-state are themselves fostering unwarranted and irrational hysteria. The fact is that SB 1070 merely makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally. It also explicitly prohibits law enforcement officials from solely considering race, color or national origin in determining immigration status,” Arizona Sen. Sylvia Allen said. 

Immigration rights groups may be appalled, but logically, illegal immigrants should not have the same rights as citizens of this country. This, by no means, insinuates that illegal immigrants are any less human than citizens. However, it cannot be denied that by being in the nation illegally, they are breaking the law and there must be consequences. 

The consequences for Arizona’s new law are also being disputed because they seem particularly harsh. At first glance, that may be a reasonable assumption, however one must consider Arizona’s situation in order to give the topic a proper assessment. 

Border violence and drug cartels stemming from illegal immigrants has been an extreme problem for Arizona, according to CNN.

“There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of the drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life,” Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said, according to CNN. 

Furthermore, there are about 460,000 illegal immigrants living in Arizona, according to ABC News. All of these individuals are in this country, not paying taxes, yet receiving many benefits of being American citizens. This is injustice on a grand scale.  Arizona, therefore, is justified to take such a stance against illegal immigration, especially after Washington has done little to protect the nation’s borders. 

“The federal government has failed to do anything substantive to help border states like Arizona. We have been overrun by immigrants and, once they are here, the state has the burden of funding services that they use,” Sen. Allen said.   

One point is necessary – in no way should legal immigration be hindered. America is essentially made from immigrants. It would be irrational to deny legal entry into America from any other country. 

If an individual wants to come to the United States to have the opportunity for gainful employment and a better life, and intends to be a contributing, legal member of society, then by all means, welcome to America. 

However, the problems stemming from illegal immigrants have left Arizona no other choice but to act. The state, therefore, in its action of imparting the strict regulations of SB 1070, should not be faulted in its pursuit of safety and justice for its citizens. 

 

Contact Jenna Shoffner at

jlshoffner@liberty.edu. 


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