21 May Thoughts on Arizona’s Immigration Law
The state of Arizona recently enacted new laws to deal with what many people in Arizona view as a threat to the country, immigrants. Arizona is the main border crossing place for illegal Mexican immigrants. While I believe that immigrants are very beneficial to our country and its economy, I also understand that some people in Arizona have been the victims of crime committed by immigrants and have seen the problems caused by Mexican gangs that sell illegal drugs across the border. Pro-immigration forces will make no progress without recognizing and sympathizing with persons affected in a negative way by illegal immigration while extolling the benefits that immigrants bestow on our country. The new law in Arizona requires policemen to check the immigration status of people who they have detained for any lawful reason if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person may be an illegal immigrant, and arrest persons who are unable to prove that they have immigration status. The new law is being criticized as unfair because it is believed that minorities are more likely to be targeted and undergo immigration status checks as a result of any contact with law enforcement. Anyone with a valid drivers license will be assumed to be a legal immigrant. Because state’s no longer give driver’s licenses without proof of immigration status, it seems likely that illegal immigrants will have a difficult time living and traveling in Arizona. Critics of the Arizona law believe that it will put additional stress on the police and shift resources away from their primary imperative, fighting crime. Despite this and other criticisms, there is a lot of political pressure on politicians in Arizona to speak out against illegal immigrants. Even Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain, who supported an amnesty over the last few years, has said that he supports the new law. Also, early national polls show that more people support the new law than oppose it. However, the new law has renewed interest in immigration as a political issue and immigration is back in the news. It is unclear whether the public support for the Arizona law suggests that amnesty may be even less likely this year than it was during the Bush Administration or whether there will be a renewed push for reform that will lead to legalization for a significant portion of the immigrant population. There are two proposals for reform currently pending in Congress, but they have made little progress in terms of the legislative process. Expect there to be some news out of Congress by the end of summer as politicians begin to take sides in the debate and begin dealing seriously with the reform proposals.