Arizona’s Immigration Enforcement Law

Arizona’s new Immigration Enforcement Law is certainly stirring debate. It’s creating a lot of noise and inflammatory rhetoric from both sides that can only be characterized as racist and nothing more than fear-mongering.

With the support of 70 percent of its citizens, Arizona has ordered sheriffs and police to secure the border and remove illegal aliens, half a million of whom now reside there. Arizona acted because the U.S. government has abdicated its constitutional duty to protect the states from invasion and refuses to enforce America’s immigration laws.

“‘We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act,” said Gov. Jan Brewer. “But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created an unacceptable situation.”

“We have a crisis in Arizona because we have a failed state in Washington. What is the response of Barack Obama, who took an oath to see to it that federal laws are faithfully executed? He is siding with the law-breakers. He is pandering to the ethnic lobbies. He is not berating a Mexican regime that aids and abets this invasion of the country of which he is commander in chief. Instead, he attacks the government of Arizona for trying to fill a gaping hole in law enforcement left by his own dereliction of duty. He has denounced Arizona as “misguided.” He has called on the Justice Department to ensure that Arizona’s sheriffs and police do not violate anyone’s civil rights. But he has said nothing about the rights of the people of Arizona who must deal with the costs of having hundreds of thousands of lawbreakers in their midst.”

President Obama criticized the recently passed Arizona immigration bill, calling it “poorly conceived.”

“You can imagine if you are an Hispanic American in Arizona, your great grandparents may have been there before Arizona was even a state, but now suddenly if you don’t have your papers, and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re gonna be harassed,” Obama said. “That’s something that could potentially happen. That’s not the right way to go.”

To be fair, Obama made clear that illegal immigrants bear responsibility too. “We are a nation of immigrants,” he said, “but we are also a nation of laws.”

“The truth is that 11 or 12 million folks, we’re gonna have to make them take responsibility for what they did,” Obama said. “And the way to do that is to make them register, make them pay a fine, make them learn English, make them take responsibility for the fact that they broke the law.”

Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were both critical of Arizona’s new law on immigration and Holder said the federal government may challenge it.

Napolitano said the new state law could siphon federal money and staff from hunting down dangerous immigrants.

The critical comments by the nation’s top law enforcement official and the Cabinet secretary responsible for preventing terrorist attacks on U.S. soil came four days after Arizona’s governor signed a law designed to crack down on illegal aliens.

Arizona’s new law is subject to potential abuse, Holder told a news conference. The law — which takes effect this summer – allows police to question anyone about their immigration status if they have reason to suspect they are in the country illegally, and makes it a state crime if they are.

The Justice Department and the Homeland Security Department are reviewing the state law.

Let’s establish what Arizona’s law does and does not do. It does not empower police to stop random people on the street and demand their papers, Gestapo-style, as many on the left have claimed. The law quite simply requires police to check immigration status with reasonable suspicion only after they have made “lawful contact.” In other words, the police have to have good reason to stop someone for some other reason before even getting to the immigration check. This power is not unprecedented. In fact, police in all 50 states already check immigration status in this way every time they ask for a driver’s license, since in most states, illegals cannot obtain one. Furthermore, the law specifically prohibits racial profiling as a tool. So the worries about discrimination seem themselves to be an emotional overreaction.

Federal law already requires all resident aliens—i.e. green card holders—to carry their identification papers on them at all times. Arizona, then, has done no more with this law than the federal government itself.

Because the US Congress and both the Bush and Obama administration has refused to deal with America’s illegal immigration problem, it is likely that more and more states will follow Arizona’s lead and take matters into their own hands.

Already, a Republican lawmaker in Texas plans to introduce a tough immigration measure similar to the new Arizona law. Rep. Debbie Riddle of Tomball said she will push for the law in the January legislative session, according to Wednesday’s editions of the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle.

There’s already been much debate about the new Arizona immigration enforcement law and it will continue to be argued from both sides throughout the summer. But to truly understand what it means, you have to read it for yourself. Then you can at least have an informed opinion on the issue rather than arguing the talking points of others. You can see the entire bill here.

You will notice that it mentions “reasonable suspicion,” meaning those groups who complain about random searches are ill-informed or lying in yet another attempt to divide this nation over race for political reasons. You will also notice that the authorities may not “solely consider race, color or national origin” when verifying the status of suspected illegal immigrants.

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