Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Arizona's Immigration Law

"Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus – The New Colossus (On the base of the Statue of Liberty)
      The State of Arizona recently passed a strict immigration law which gives the police broad powers to detain any person suspected of being in the country illegally. Unless suspects are carrying proper documentation, it is the intention the law to prosecute and deport them.
      Officers are not only allowed to question suspects - they are required to do so. Anyone who thinks police officers are not enforcing the law is allowed to sue the local government or agency. Not carrying immigration papers at all times is a misdemeanor. Several other states, including Pennsylvania, are considering passage of similar legislation.
      Arizona has a rather large percentage of immigrants, primarily Hispanics. Although it would be unconstitutional for a state to pass a law requiring suspected illegal Hispanics, the de facto result of this law is just that. I suspect that illegal immigrants with blue eyes and blond hair - and there are such things - will have no problems with Arizona policemen. But woe be to any dark-skinned, Spanish speaking persons, even American citizens, who wander along the streets of Phoenix.
      But I also understand what has prompted this law: the lack of Federal activity regarding the immigration problem. With an estimated 12M illegal immigrants in this country, the Federal government should long ago have passed pertinent legislation.
      I do not intend to rehash the rationales for and against illegal immigrants - they take jobs away from citizens, they don’t pay taxes, they commit crimes - all sorts of urban legends, whether true or false.
      The first thing that must be done, whether it takes new technology, more manpower, major construction, whatever, the huge influx of persons sneaking across the Mexican border needs to be stopped.
      Assuming success in this endeavor (a fairly big assumption), what next? The cost of finding, prosecuting and deporting 12M people would probably be greater than the cost of maintaining the armed forces.
      Politicians trolling for votes seldom consider that the cost of enforcing any law needs to be balanced against the problems that would be caused by its non-enforcement. In this case I believe that most intelligent citizens, i.e., non-politicians, would agree that a cost/benefit analysis is in order.
      I do not think that designing a system whereby illegal immigrants could become citizens is amnesty. It doesn’t have to be easy – such things as paying a fine, then returning home and applying for readmission after, say, five years, would not be out of line.
      To give due credit, President Bush attempted to create such a system; he was thwarted by his far right constituency. Originally John McCain supported that endeavor, but has backed off now that he needs votes.
      My personal opinion is that the Arizona law is bigoted, harsh and probably unconstitutional. That said, I also believe that Federal action is long overdue.
      As someone once said, “The United States has always had an immigration problem – ask any Native American.”
      Through the power of language man was able to pass along skills to children or apprentices. Whether through logic or trial and error, a workman could develop a new flaking process for the manufacture of arrowheads, then teach it to others in his trade. Practical information learned through experience ― the best place to hunt, how to track game, the location of the closest berry patch, etc. ― could be passed to children and clan members while seated around the campfire.
      The Growth Of Language – The Spirit Runs Through It

      The book and/or a free look inside is available in paperback or on Kindle at Amazon.

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