Arizona has just signed a law that requires Arizona local police to question anyone they “reasonably suspect” of being an undocumented immigrant. Upon questioning, the questionee would be required to produce paperwork proving their status or face being arrested for trespassing.
Here’s a link to the actual law: http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/sb1070s.pdf
Now first I would say that we as a nation have done far too little to address the immigration issue. President Obama commented that the failure to act at the federal level has led (and will continue to lead) to other states taking similar actions (which he calls “misguided”). Obama is absolutely right about that. It is long past time that we had a debate in this country about how we should handle immigration, both legal and illegal. In my opinion, this is because the powers-that-be have been happy with the status quo, because it ensures cheap labor. Therefore, we have a system that really doesn’t do that much to effectively police illegal immigration on the one hand, while on the other makes the legal process for immigration so ridiculously troublesome that it simply incentivizes going the illegal route.
I believe the action that should be taken probably should include a) strictly punishing employers who hire illegal immigrants, to the point where it is cost prohibitive to do so and b) streamlining the legal immigration process to make it much easier. Arizona has chosen to go a different route, and I find it problematic. First, how in the heck can anyone “reasonably suspect” someone of being an illegal immigrant? Do people do “illegal immigrant” things? Maybe an “illegal immigrant” dance? I just don’t see how that can be done in practice. I can’t help to believe that it is going to revolve around race. And two, I don’t like the idea that if you are accused by police of being illegal, you have to produce papers or go to jail. Isn’t that presumed guilt until proven innocent? What if you are not an immigrant at all? How do you produce papers you are not required to have?
I understand the desire to do something, especially when nothing has been done in years. Of course, I can’t help but think that the passage of this law may have a lot more to do with political pandering in an election year than actually addressing the problem. Oh wait, what am I saying? Nah, politicians would never, ever do that. I mean, if Arizona was into pandering, they would seek to pass a bill to appease, say, the “birther” movement. But that would just be silly.
Really Arizona? Really? This actually passed your state house? Something to appease the…birthers? At least the immigration thing is a real actual issue. The “birther” movement is motivated by a sad illusion by people with too much time on their hands. Yet Arizona legislators not only found the time to debate this, they actually passed it? Good grief! I don’t know which is more sad, that Arizona legislators wasted time doing this or that the “birther” movement has apparently enough momentum in Arizona that politicians feel the need to pander to those for that…er…cause?