Saturday, June 5, 2010

Arizona Immigration Crackdown Sparks Debate

Politically Speaking…
    Over 10 million of them live on U.S. soil today.  They have access to our public education system, health care system, food stamps, and welfare, yet they don’t pay taxes.  Who are they?  Illegal immigrants.  They are indeed a growing problem in our nation, costing the American taxpayer billions and billions of dollars a year.  They are also the reason why Arizona has passed a new piece of legislation.
    Senate Bill 1070 was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23 and is set to take effect on July 29.  Its purpose is to better enforce federal immigration laws in Arizona to keep illegal immigrants out of the state.  It is now a crime to be an illegal immigrant in Arizona.  Seems kind of pointless, doesn’t it?  Why did Arizona lawmakers write this seemingly redundant bill?
    Arizona has had their fair share of immigrant issues, you might say.  They’re ranked sixth in the country for having the most illegal immigrants.  Though they may not have as big a problem as California or Texas (ranked first and second, respectively), they have enough to cause trouble.  It’s estimated that Arizona spends between $1.3 billion and $2.5 billion each year on illegal immigrants. 
    In addition to the presence of these people and their stealing of resources, their smuggling of drugs across the border creates another huge issue.  In 2007, the U.S. Border Patrol uncovered 400 tons of marijuana.  As a result of the smuggling and the profits being made, it has resulted in an increasing number of kidnappings, making Phoenix, Arizona the “kidnap capital” of the U.S., with a reported 368 kidnappings in 2008.  Only Mexico City has more kidnappings globally.
    Even though federal immigration laws are in place, they obviously aren’t being enforced well enough to keep up with the problems Arizona has been facing.  They have been losing lives, money, and resources, and Arizona decided enough was enough.  Numerous presidents have pledged to fix the immigration problem in this country.  However, Congress has been reluctant to pass anything in the way of immigration reform or to thoroughly enforce what is already law for that matter.
    Thus, the Arizona legislature passed this law.  What this law does is give law enforcement the power to question a suspected person’s immigration status if they are already involved in another crime.  The person must present a valid driver’s license or some other form of identification in order to prove they are not in the country illegally.  If someone is found to be an illegal immigrant, they will be detained and taken into federal custody.
    After this bill passed it sparked nationwide controversy.  There have been protests, boycotts, and legal threats.  President Obama has also taken a stand on this law, calling it a “misguided” legislative move which may “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”  He even went as so far to say that Hispanics could be “harassed,” just by taking their kids out for ice cream and continued saying, “If you don’t have your papers…you’re gonna be harassed.”
    I question Pres. Obama’s comment on this issue.  What he failed to mention with his “ice cream” comment was that police officers are obligated to have a person in custody for another crime, before they can even question their immigration status.  Additionally, it’s nothing new for immigrants to have to carry their registration papers with them.  That law has been in place since 1940.
    Pres. Obama is also worried whether civil rights will be violated in the enforcement of this law.  However, the Arizona law states, “A law enforcement official…may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.”  Now I realize just because the law says there will not be racial discrimination does not mean it will not happen somewhere along the line.  Humans are sinful by nature, and there will always be those who misuse their power.  The question is: with what purpose will the majority of police officers enforce this law?  I tend to believe that more officers will enforce this law responsibly to protect the people of Arizona, not to blatantly discriminate against Hispanics.
    Because of the extremism being associating with this law, saying Hispanics will be discriminated against, several people and groups have decided to boycott business activity with Arizona.  For example, the cities of Austin (Texas), Columbus (Ohio), Hartford (Connecticut), Los Angeles (California), and several others have voted to block off all business relations with the state.  Will this really work though, or will it backfire?  Obviously, the groups boycotting Arizona are voicing out against the law and in support of civil rights for Hispanics.  Have they considered though that 40% of Arizona’s service-sector workforce is Hispanic, the very industry they are punishing?
    Meanwhile, many opponents accuse this new law violates the U.S. Constitution and overrides federal immigration law.  They claim that immigration is a federal matter and states have no business dealing with it.  They assert that Arizona is challenging the supremacy of the federal government in making this bill law.  If Arizona is doing that, then the opponents have a point because federal law is supreme, according to Article 6, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution.  Therefore, is Arizona going against federal immigration laws?
    Not according to Kris Kobach, one of the drafters of this bill.  He notes that the Supreme Court has allowed states to “enact laws to discourage illegal immigration without being pre-empted by federal law” according to the 1976 case, De Canas v. Bica.  In this case it was ruled that the state of California’s law to forbid employers from giving work to illegal immigrants was not unconstitutional as was previously asserted.
    As would be expected, Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderon, disliked this law.  Mexico’s Foreign Ministry came out and said the Arizona law “violates inalienable human rights.”  Meanwhile, the Democrats in Congress, as well as the President, have stood beside the Mexican President and seem to be pitting Arizona as the enemy here.  Honestly, Mexico has no room to be discussing our law as violating “human rights” when they have had nearly 10,000 immigrants kidnapped in their country from September 2008 to February 2009.  Mexico’s police took part in 91 of those kidnappings.  Not to mention, Mexico has a law similar to Arizona’s in place, only stricter.  It says, “Authorities, whether federal, state or municipal, are required to demand that foreigners prove their legal presence in the country, before attending to any issues.”  Though there have been attempts in Mexico’s legislature to alter this law, nothing has been changed yet.
    With all the negativity of outsiders towards Arizona, you would think the people of Arizona must despise this law.  Well, think again.  Despite all the accusations and boycotts, Arizona citizens overwhelmingly support this bill.  71% of Arizonans support the immigration law, according to a Rasmussen poll, and only 24% are against the new law.  On a national level, 55% of people would welcome similar immigration laws in their states, despite the media’s general negative view towards Arizona.

Spiritually Speaking…
    The Bible does not speak directly on the topic of illegal immigration, though it does talk about immigrants or foreigners and how we ought to treat them.  After the Lord had brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, He gave them several instructions.  One of them was this: “…if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34, NKJV).  Let’s not forget that the United States of America is a nation of immigrants, and we all come together to form this blessed country.
    However, does the previous biblical principle protect the immigrants who enter this nation illegally?  Definitely not.  The Bible also talks about submitting to governmental authority.  Romans 13:1-2 says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”  God is certainly a God of love, but He is also a God of justice; those who break earthly laws will be subject to God’s judgment, even if they are not punished on earth.

External Sources:
     http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/SB1070-HB2162New.PDF?test=latestnews
     http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/02/11/national/main6197466.shtml
     http://www.wciv.com/news/stories/0510/738320.html
     http://www.statemaster.com/graph/peo_est_num_of_ill_imm-people-estimated-number-illegal-immigrants
     http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE4979VW20081008
     http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,592767,00.html
     http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,519559,00.html
     http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20003274-503544.html
     http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/04/27/arizona-law-poorly-conceived-says-obama/?fbid=v-o7CvLqfaH
     http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/29/opinion/29kobach.html
     http://www.azcentral.com/business/articles/2010/05/13/20100513immigration-boycotts-list.html
     http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/05/21/arizona-boycotts-hit-hispanic-hospitality-workers/
     http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202457530844
     http://www.lectlaw.com/def2/s105.htm
     http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=424&invol=351
     http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-05-25-mexico-migrants_N.htm
     http://www.azfamily.com/news/Is-Article-67-Mexicos-version-of-SB-1070-93605879.html
     http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_state_surveys/arizona   

          /71_in_arizona_now_support_state_s_new_immigration_law
     http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2010/05

          /20/2010-05-20_sarah_palin_every_state_should_have_immigration_law_like_arizona.html
     http://www.openbible.info/topics/immigration
     http://www.gotquestions.org/illegal-immigration.html
     http://www.biblegateway.com/




Image Source:

     http://teacherweb.com/AZ/ParadiseEducationCenter/TeamLindberg/arizona_flag.gif