There is unrest in Tucson, Arizona after arrests were conducted by local authorities which have been related to SB 1070. I do not subscribe to the views of the round ’em up, kick ’em out nativist crowd and initially had concerns with Arizona’s controversial new immigration law SB 1070.
However, I decided to do some research to see if much of what SB 1070’s critics charge would occur under Arizona’s new state statute. After careful consideration of the points for and against it and looking into this matter further, I have come to the conclusion that the new law will not result in many of the things opponents of SB 1070 claim. Including some libertarian’s bizarre claim that the new law is part of a conspiracy to a clandestinely implement a national I.D. card. The new law is based soley on documentation, written to apply to everyone equally and, despite opponent’s claims, and there is no requirement in SB 1070 that people in Arizona have to carry any identification.
Also, while working its way through the Arizona legislature SB 1070 was amended to prohibit racial profiling and race cannot be used as a determining factor when police stop someone. According to the Cato Institute, most of the undocumented immigrant population are Hispanics and, unfortunately, it is Latinos that are hit hardest by the U.S.’s bureaucratic immigration process. The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and much of the case law surrounding these two Amendments is very strong in protecting personal privacy and unreasonable searches and seizures.
Under SB 1070 Arizona police do not have a blank check to stop people for any reason as there are numerous legal hurdles still in place and even enhanced protections implemented under this new law to prevent much of what SB 1070 opponents fear. Under the law police officers don’t have any more authority to stop or arrest someone than they had before it was implemented. If they abuse their power, the agencies or officer who acted fraudulently can be held legally and criminally responsible.
For example, in the course of their investigation, under SB 1070, police officers are not required to check someone’s immigration status if doing so interferes with their ability to conduct an investigation. Police will only have to make a reasonable attempt (when practicable) to check someone’s immigration status if they stop someone involved in the commission of a crime. It was discovered by one journalist that undocumented immigrants with clean records would be eligible for temporary guest worker cards until they are assigned a hearing before an immigration judge.
Immigration courts that handle deportations are backlogged and detention centers that hold undocumented immigrants are full. As a result, many detainees could be the recipients of guest work papers. Recipients, in turn, would be able to travel anywhere in the country to find work until their court date which could be up to 5 years or more. When this fact came to light, SB 1070’s sponsor Russell Pearce didn’t call for this practice to be stopped. According to Phoenix’s Fox News station his reaction was:
It will save us hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s good for the taxpayer. The benefits so outweigh [the work permits].
With all of these points in mind, one has to ask who is really the target of SB 1070? One explanation comes from a news story out of Atlanta, Georgia. As it turns out, while many of the undocumented immigrants caught at Arizona’s border are from Central and Latin America, hundreds are coming from countries you may or may not have expected:
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran.
With the threat of terrorism inspired by proponents of Islamic jihad, many terrorists who subscribe to fundamentalist Islamic theology will look for any way to sneak into the United States and make their way to terrorist sleeper cells. This is not to say that everyone from the four above mentioned countries or someone from somewhere else who attempts to sneak into the U.S. are terrorists. It is very possible that the migrants from middle eastern countries attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico are refugees.
However, the vast majority of terrorists do hail from the Middle East and all of the countries listed above are known to harbor terrorists. One country (Iran) helps arm and train them. Therefore, legal measures, like SB 1070 to help counter the ability of terrorists and violent criminals to enter and live in the U.S. while maintaining standards to preserve individual liberties are warranted since terrorists and violent criminals pose a threat to an individual’s right to life.
The fact is Russell Pearce proposed SB 1070 in reaction to discussions he had with ranchers in southern Arizona expressing their concern to him about the death of Rob Krentz who was murdered by an immigrant or drug smuggler back in March on his ranch located in Cochise County. Krentz was a decent, honest, hardworking man known to help undocumented immigrants crossing Arizona’s desert.
Cochise County is one of many counties in Arizona near the U.S. – Mexico border that has experienced increased violence due to the smuggling of illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants. Most undocumented immigrants are honest, hardworking people who took a chance to come to the U.S. in search of a better life and should be able to apply for papers to legally work in the U.S. The result of SB 1070 could enables them to do just that.
In addition to undocumented immigrants who have clean records being able to obtain work cards, at the very least, President Obama should work with Congress to repeal the cap on H1-B visas so employers can hire more people and would simulataneously enable the legal importation of more skilled labor.
With the high likelihood of more domestic terrorist attacks along with the elevated violence in Arizona counties along the U.S.-Mexico border makes it abundantly clear that it is the violence and death resulting from illegal drug and undocumented immigrant trades, and the potential influx of terrorists that Pearce’s law is designed to curb. Short of halting the hiring of undocumented immigrants for working and living here (which I disgree with), Senator Pearce never sought to overturn appropriate legal protections geared to prevent abuse by police officers directed towards people nor stop the flow of immigrants to the United States. With these points in mind, one has to wonder whose side opponents of SB 1070 are really on?