Getting real about the Arizona law

Last Thursday Baltimore County police shot and killed one man and arrested two others shortly after midnight as they were leaving their Pikesville, MD, hotel room. The three men had been under police surveillance for some time, and the two who were arrested were charged with — get this — counterfeiting currency, a federal crime.

What does this have to do with SB1070, the Arizona immigration law that was scheduled to take effect today? You know, the law that the Obama administration got a compliant federal judge to emasculate yesterday, if only temporarily?

Just this. Recall that the Obama administration’s argument for asking a federal court to invalidate Arizona’s law is that requiring local law enforcement personnel to ask about the immigration status of people who come to police attention on other matters preempts federal authority. And the judge mostly backed them up on this point, enjoining enforcement of the provision

requiring that an officer make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is unlawfully present in the United States, and requiring verification of the immigration status of any person arrested prior to releasing that person

on the grounds it most likely will be struck down.

Yet, in the Maryland counterfeiting case cited above, local police not only arrested two men on federal charges (and shot another one to death), but they had had the men under surveillance on suspicion of committing a federal crime. All this was done, of course, with the full knowledge and cooperation of the U. S. Treasury Department.

The truth is, state and local police arrest people on suspicion of violating federal laws all the time. For the Obama administration to come along and say this is okay when the crime is counterfeiting, but not when it is entering the country illegally, is rank hypocrisy. In fact, the Arizona law doesn’t even authorize state and local police to do what Baltimore County police did in the counterfeiting case; they can’t inquire into a suspect’s immigration status unless he is already suspected of violating of a state law.

If I were a lawyer representing one of the two men facing counterfeiting charges in Maryland, I would be following the Arizona case very closely. If the judge’s injunction stands up under appeal, it seems to me that this would provide grounds for getting those arrests voided.

While the Obama administration may be hypocritical, some supporters of the Arizona law are stretching things a bit when they claim that the law is needed because of violent crimes committed by illegals. We’ve been hearing, mostly on Fox News, that the war among Mexican drug cartels has spilled across the Arizona border, and that Phoenix has become the kidnapping capital of the United States.

This is more a crime problem than an immigration issue. Drug violence, both in the U. S. and abroad, is mainly a consequence of the U. S. war on drugs, which has driven the price of illegal substances so high that criminal gangs fight each other and take enormous risks in order to reap the huge profits that result.

SB1070, even in its original form, would not do much to prevent drug violence. It does nothing to beef up border security and practically all of those who would face deportation as a result of being asked about their immigration status would be people charged with misdemeanors. If Arizona law enforcement officers catch a kidnapper or murderer who is in this country illegally, does anyone really believe they will call ICE and try to get the criminal deported? No, they will try him and put him in prison for a long, long time.

Immigration proponents like to point out that crime along the southern border has been going down, not up. They should be careful when they say this. Illegal immigration is down, too. If crime decreases with a fall in illegal immigration, this only buttresses the case for securing the border.

Illegal immigration is a problem, but not because of the crimes against persons and property most of us fear. The problem with illegal immigration is that it creates a two-tier labor market, with different sets of rules for each tier. As I said in post a while back:

Having employees is expensive. An employer has to pay, not only their wages — which cannot fall below a legal minimum — but their payroll taxes as well and, in addition, must make contributions on their behalf to the state’s unemployment and workmen’s compensation insurance funds. In addition, if he fires, or fails to promote, or declines to hire a member of a protected class, he faces potential discrimination lawsuits and legal action.

Undocumented — i.e., illegal — workers don’t bring these problems with them. You don’t have to withhold their income taxes, or pay their payroll taxes, or pay their unemployment and workmen’s comp premiums. And they won’t sue you for work-related issues or file employment discrimination complaints.

Illegal immigrants, because they’re illegal, work for less — so much less, that American citizens and non-citizens with work permits are at a huge competitive disadvantage when competing with them for jobs. As I said in my post, illegals don’t do the jobs Americans won’t do; they do the jobs Americans can’t get.

The truth is, neither of the major political parties has shown much interest in securing the border. While they talk about immigration reform, they would really like to keep things the way they are because illegal immigration provides corporations and the elites with a pool of cheap labor. Legalizing all the illegals here would mean bringing them under the same legal framework that governs American workers, and all of a sudden people won’t be able to afford their nannies and will have to pay more for fruits and vegetables.

In poll after poll, Americans have indicated a willingness to provide a path to citizenship, or at least to guest-worker status, for illegal immigrants, but they want the border secured first.

The Arizona law was not passed in order to stem violent crime along the state’s border with Mexico. It is an attempt to do what the federal government has stubbornly refused to do in defiance of both the law and the will of the people.

Which is why it is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans.

2 thoughts on “Getting real about the Arizona law”

  1. Of course the majority of Americans support the Arizona law. The majority of Americans are ignorant, xenophobic, jingoists. That’s not the only reason to support it, but I suspect it’s the most popular.
    I cannot understand the mindset that says “If you stand on this side of the line you’re ok, but if you take JUST ONE STEP over this line without permission you are a dangerous criminal that needs to be aggressively pursued.”
    The sooner we dispatch with the outdated concept of national sovereignty the sooner humanity can begin organizing itself along more peaceful, cooperative lines.

  2. This has gotten way too much national press… to the extend that it would only apply in Arizona, it should really only concern the residents of Arizona. Furthermore, it is debatable as to whether or not increased enforcement of existing federal immigration laws at the state and local levels would have any significant impact on the illegal immigrant population in those jurisdictions, and whether or not it would be worth the cost.

    That said, anyone who doesn’t think the Bill targets Hispanics is delusional since the Bill addresses illegal immigration in a southern border state. I can only imagine how I would feel if I were a Hispanic living in Arizona legally, and was detained on suspicion of being in the country illegally just because I left my wallet at home. I daresay a Caucasian living in Arizona wouldn’t have any concerns about that happening.

    As for the Administration’s reaction, Hispanics make up a significant constituency in this country and wield a lot of influence in elections, so this is really more about preserving the democratic party base than it is about states usurping federal authority.

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