The immigration debate, somewhat dormant for the past couple of years, suddenly came back to the front of the public awareness recently. On one hand, the Obama administration and their allies on Capitol Hill are desperately trying to push through the once-defeated amnesty for criminal aliens. On the other hand, the state of Arizona just passed a landmark law making it a state crime to be an illegal alien, directing its law enforcement agencies to–oh, the horror!–enforce the law, and prohibiting localities from establishing sanctuaries for border criminals.
Obama’s rationale in trying to legalize millions of illegals as soon as possible is transparent: He knows that his agenda will be dead in the water come January 2011, so if he wants to accomplish his “immigration reform” goals he has to do it now, short-term cost to his party be damned. On the other hand, if he succeeds in giving American citizenship to tens of millions of freeloaders, he ensures a perpetual one-party left-wing dictatorship in what used to be the United States of America.
As with the health care disaster, it is obvious that the President is perfectly willing to sacrifice his fellow Democrats in November 2010, because doing so gives him the long-term win. In other words, he is throwing the battle for Congress to win the war with the country. It is a very smart move on his part, based on very sound examples in history. As an irrelevant historical footnote, one of the more profound occasions of this sort was the decision of the Russians to surrender Moscow to Napoleon in 1812. The capture of the (at the time) “Second Capital” proved a Pyrrhic victory for the French and led to their eventual complete defeat in the war.
As we can see, Obama’s motivations are crystal clear.
On the other hand, what about Arizona lawmakers? Are they the bigoted white supremacist fascists the MSM portrays them to be? Do they keep awake at night trying to think up devious ways to harass innocent Hispanic-looking grandfathers at ice cream stands?
In order to pass judgment on this Arizona law, I suggest a rather radical approach. What I am proposing is something that most modern journalists seem to be completely unaware of, or hold in contempt, but please bear with me. The essence of this novel solution to the problem is that in order for us to discuss the Arizona law fairly, let us … actually read the bill in question!
As it turns out, unlike National Democrats on matters of health care refrom and other aspects of their agenda, Arizona lawmakers have done the unexplainable and actually posted their bill on the Internet. In fact, you can actually see it right now by clicking HERE. How revolutionary. Another unforgivable thing that Arizona lawmakers have done was to make the bill short — despite the extensive nature of the outcry, the actual bill itself only stands at 17 pages, featuring 45 huge-font lines per page. But wait, those undemocratic scoundrels were not done! On top of (1) making their bill available to the general public and (2) making it short and to the point, they have committed another mortal sin — taking their cue from those ultimate right-wing extremists, our Founding Fathers, Arizona lawmakers made sure their bill is actually readable and easily understandable by an average person.
Oh, the horror! How can something this important be less than 2,000 pages long and comprehensible by anyone other than a division of attorneys? Unfortunately for the pro-criminal alien crowd, that’s what the Arizonans have done, so there should be no place for any misinformation about SB1070.
That aside out of the way, let us dive right in. Perhaps we can start by considering the most commonly heard complaints leveled against the Arizona law?
- It allows–or even as much as directs–law enforcement to wantonly stop people in the streets and check their immigration status. Our esteemed president seems to envision this as a SWAT team descending on horrified innocent patrons of an ice cream stand. This is obviously police state tactics, opponents argue, reminiscent of the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The streets of Phoenix, they maintain, will ring with the endless shouts of “Papieren, bitte!”
Alas, this is untrue. In this case, as he was when it came to matters of access to health care for illegal immigrants, South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson would be perfectly justified in respectfully telling the president: “You Lie!”
Instead, here is what the relevant section of the law (article 8, paragraph B) says:
For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person. The person’s immigration status shall be verified with the federal government pursuant to 8 United States Code Section 1373(c).
The operative words here are the very first ones, so it is a mystery to me why so many people seem to have missed them. For any lawful contact. What this means is that no law enforcement official can simply stop anybody in the street and demand documents. It is only in case of an officer having other lawful reasons to approach somebody that he or she can and should check the person’s immigration status if there is a reasonable suspicion about it.
In other words, this is the same scenario as with motor vehicle stops. A highway patrolman cannot simply stop a random car and ask for documents. The driver has to have done something wrong, be that erratic driving, speeding or a busted tail light, to give the policeman the authority to do so. This bears repeating: Arizona law enforcement simply does not have the authority to stop anybody in the street while acting on an immigration-related suspicion alone. Hungry grandfathers can rest assured they can get their fill of ice cream without having the Gestapo arrest him for stepping outside the house without papers.
Which brings us to Scare Number Two:
- What has this country come to, if citizens now cannot go anywhere without a full set of IDs or they will be arrested and thrown in jail until their identity and immigration status can be confirmed?
Well, that’s not really the case now, is it? The answer lies, of course, in the same paragraph B as shown above. It does not require anybody to arrest anyone. All it says is that the immigration status will be determined. I assume that most police cruisers in Arizona are equipped with this newfangled invention called the “telephone.” I also assume that police stations and federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement authorities are similarly equipped. Based on these bold assumptions, it does not take a giant leap of faith to conclude that a person’s immigration status, if in question, can be almost instantaneously established without any need to arrest or otherwise harass the person.
All this, of course, presumes that the federal authorities are willing to cooperate with the State of Arizona in enforcement of their own federal laws. If they are not, then maybe President Obama’s anger is somewhat misdirected.
- But what about innocent tourists? Blue-eyed, blonde skiing teams from Sweden are probably safe, but an occasional mustachioed visitor from Spain cannot leave the hotel without a passport anymore!
Same thing. I find it hard to believe that a businessman from Seville would not be able to tell the officer his name, the hotel he is staying at, and the dates of his flights. Given that, it should be a snap to confirm his status as a lawful visitor in the country. And if we keep in mind that the person will have committed some sort of a violation to facilitate the stop in the first place, I think most law abiding visitors to Arizona can continue feeling as welcome as they always have been. In fact, perhaps Arizona will enjoy even more visitors once the law takes effect and the inevitable exodus of illegal immigrants brings with it a decrease in kidnappings and violence and increase in state and local resources.
So, when can a person get arrested? And without a warrant, no less, assuming that he just got stopped in the street? Never fear, the text of SB1070 answers that question, too. Paragraph E of the same Article 8 states as follows:
A law enforcement officer, without a warrant, may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.
Now, not only are we dealing with some “real” crime (unlike breaking through our borders and violating our sovereignty, which the American political left apparently does not consider serious crimes at all), but we are also dealing with “probable cause,” a much higher level of certainty and a harder thing to prove. It is also good to keep in mind that warrantless arrests for “probable cause” are nothing new and have been ruled perfectly legal many times before, including by the United States Supreme Court.
- But will this not lead to racial profiling?
Not according to the law, it won’t. It is very clear from the text that the person first has to be stopped for something other than immigration suspicion. In other words, the stop absolutely has to be performed due to the person’s behavior, not the way he or she looks. If that is the case, race has nothing whatsoever to do with this.
- We know this clause will be abused in order to racially profile!
Any law can be abused. Everybody is familiar with stories of policemen breaking somebody’s tail light and then citing the driver for it. Does it mean that it is an everyday epidemic to be feared by all law abiding motorists? That is absurd. Again, any law can be abused. However, given the current climate of paranoia directed at any suspicion of racial profiling, we can be assured that the usual suspects are just waiting to find any evidence of it. Any such suspicion will certainly be made into a civil rights case, and any real cases of racial profiling will be prosecuted. This is how our legal system works in other cases, and there is no reason to believe it will not work here.
To sum it up, there is nothing in this common sense law that warrants such an outcry from the left. It is not “misguided,” as the same president who once stated that Cambridge police officers “acted stupidly” for arresting a black educator who appeared to be breaking into a house put it, and it does not violate anyone’s civil liberties. It does not authorize squads of KGB-like operatives to roam the streets arresting every tanned human being in sight and throwing them into GULAGs never to be seen again.
Speaking of “misguided,” this manufactured outrage should be directed instead at the Federal government’s ongoing refusal to enforce its own laws, let alone perform one of the very few functions it actually has, an obligation outlined in the very specific enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution — to repel invasions. It is a crying shame that not only does our Federal government abrogate its responsibility to protect our sovereignty, but instead it goes as far as to threaten the sovereign State of Arizona when it tries to protect its citizens from an ongoing invasion.
Far from being vilified, Arizona’s initiative should be copied across the nation. It seems that the states have no longer have any recourse but to exercise their sovereign rights in the absence of any evidence that the Federal Government is likely to start fulfilling its most solemn of duties.