Posts Tagged ‘Illegal Immigration’

Dems Give Calderon Standing O for Criticizing Arizona Law

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, watching politics is like watching a contact sport. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. There are so many sides to the Arizona immigration story that’s it’s difficult to know where to start. So I’m going to try to hit on some of the highlights.

Mexico's President CalderonCalderon Criticizes the Law
We’ve watched our own public officials criticize the law (more on this in a moment) but I found it pretty nauseating to watch Mexico’s President Calderon criticize the Arizona immigration law in front of Congress, and then receive a standing ovation from the democrats, including Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. How out of touch are the democrats with the sentiments of most Americans? Clearly, a lot.

Read the Damn Law
And what I found even more nauseating this last week was that both Holder and Napolitano admitted that they have not taken the time to read the law, though both have continued to criticize it. Holder has even threatened a potential federal lawsuit against Arizona. Here I am, a little blogger from Kansas, and before posting my own comments on the law a couple weeks ago, the first thing I did was I READ THE LAW! In a recent FoxNews Opinion Dynamics Poll, 83% of Americans found it “shocking” that Holder admitted in front of the House Judiciary Committee that he had taken a stand against the law despite not having read the bill.

Out of Step with Americans
The majority of Americans support a state’s rights to pass laws like the Arizona immigration law. And when you dive in deeper, you find that 84% of Americans, including 75% of democrats, favor “requiring people to show documents proving their immigration status if government officials have reasonable cause to ask for them”. (From the same FoxNews poll.) So while many democrats say they oppose the bill, most of them actually favor the underlying principle.

Supreme Court has Already Ruled on This
One more surprise I learned this week: the Supreme Court has already ruled on reasonable suspicion and immigration status. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a UNANIMOUS decision in Muehler v. Mena, found that questioning someone regarding their immigration status is not a violation of Fourth Amendment rights — provided that person is already lawfully detained. Why has this not received more news coverage?

And since Arizona has made some changes in their bill, the guidelines in the Arizona bill are now stricter than the federal law they intended to duplicate.

Highlights from the Poll
These are from the same FoxNews poll:
• 76% believe that the security along our borders is not strict enough
• 65% believe that a state has the right to pass laws on immigration and to protect its borders
• 65% favor allowing local and state law enforcement to question anyone they think are in the country illegally
• 76% favor allowing local and state police to detain anyone who cannot prove their immigration status

And in case you don’t like the FoxNews poll, here are some numbers from Rasmussen:
• 55% of voters nationwide favor passage of a law like Arizona’s in their own state
• 69% believe a police officer should be REQUIRED to check immigration status of anyone stopped for a traffic violation
• 55% say they agree more with political leaders in Arizona than they do the political leaders in Washington
• 71% in Arizona support the state law

The Politics
It really makes you scratch your head sometimes. Why do the leaders in Congress and in the White House seem so far out of step with public sentiment? It’s hard to justify their position. The law is clearly against them. And the people are clearly against them on this issue. The only conclusion I can come up with as that they’re attempting to energize their base (the left) for the upcoming elections in November. The right is clearly energized due to health care reform and out of control spending. So maybe this is the issue that energizes the left? I really don’t know.

The Truth About the Arizona Immigration Bill

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Linda RonstadtLinda Ronstadt and Shakira don’t like it.

“Mexican-Americans are not going to take this lying down,” singer Linda Ronstadt, a Tucson native, said at a news conference on a lawsuit planned by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Immigration Law Center.

“It goes against all human dignity,” said Shakira.

Reading the Law
I’ve heard a lot the last couple of weeks from critics and supporters. It’s clear that both sides are attempting to use this law like a club to gain a political advantage over the other party. We’ll come back to the politics of this in a minute. My first thought was I wondered if Ronstadt or Shakira had bothered to read the law? (Read Arizona Senate Bill 1070 here.) Or if they bothered to do any research on the legality of racial profiling? My guess is that no, they have not.

Racial Profiling
This really seems to be the biggest criticism of the bill — that Arizona law enforcement will question and detain Hispanics because they’re Hispanics in order to ascertain whether or not they’re in the country legally. People seem to believe that this bill will transform well-intentioned policemen into racist profilers violating the legal rights of Hispanic Americans who are legal residents of the United States.

This is just an absurd conclusion. And hugely disrespectful to the fine men and women who put their lives on the line protecting our communities.

Profiling is legal and a component of law enforcement. But what is ILLEGAL is racial profiling. Law enforcement cannot, even under this bill, profile people based on their race in order to question or detain them.

A Copy of the Federal Law
A significant portion of the Arizona law is  basically a copy of the federal law. It’s making a state crime out of a federal crime. For instance, the federal law requires “every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him.” The problem is that this federal law is not routinely enforced, so state officials are making it a state crime and plan to be more proactive in the enforcement of the law. (For more, read this post on PolitiFact.com.)

Is it Constitutional?
Certainly the portion of the state law that mimics the federal law is Constitutional. And racial profiling remains illegal. But there is some gray area in this bill that needs to be clarified and fixed. Law enforcement can only engage people in “lawful contact”, and can only question them about their status in the country if they have “reasonable suspicion”.

Here’s the law: “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of 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, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.”

The gray area is “reasonable suspicion”. We’ve already covered that it can’t be racially driven, but this still remains a pretty broad and ambiguous statement in the law. Typically this is something that would get sorted out in the courts over time, but because of the national attention to this law, it will probably need to get sorted out more quickly than that. My guess is that Arizona lawmakers will likely revisit this bill, and try to clean up some of the ambiguous language in the law. (There are two posts on PolitiFact.com that covers this portion of the law. Here is post one and post two.)

The Politics
I’ll be honest with you, immigration law is really not very high on my personal radar. It’s clear that the lack of security on our borders is a national security problem. The number of illegal aliens in our country is a huge financial drain on our communities. And an incredible amount of illegal drugs enter the country through the Mexican border. This has been a problem for generations that our lawmakers have not had the political fortitude to fix. President Obama admitted this week that Washington doesn’t have the “appetite” to tackle this issue any time soon. But that hasn’t stopped people from using this controversy in Arizona for political gain.

Democrats and liberals portray the right as racists every time illegal immigration comes up. Republicans and conservatives blast the left as soft on national security, and unwilling to uphold immigration laws.

The truth is that border states like Arizona are left holding the bag when the federal government doesn’t uphold their end of the bargain. Border security and illegal immigration are federal responsibilities. But what is a state like Arizona to do when the feds refuse to fix the problem?