It is critically important that all Americans understand the impetus for this new law and have a clear understanding of the law itself. Our neighbor to the south, Mexico, is in a massive battle with well-organized drug cartels. Because of Washington’s failure to secure our southern border, Arizona has become the superhighway of illegal drug and human smuggling activity. In December 2008, the U.S. Justice Department said that Mexican gangs are the “biggest organized crime threat to the United States.” In 2009, Phoenix had 316 kidnapping cases, turning the city into our nation’s kidnapping capital. Almost all of the persons kidnapped were illegal immigrants or linked to the drug trade.
Essentially, our border leaks like a team with a last-place defense. The very same week that I signed the new law, a major drug ring was broken up and Mexican cartel operatives suspected of running 40,000 pounds of marijuana through southern Arizona were indicted.
While drug smuggling is the principal cause of our massive border-violence problem, many of the same criminal organizations also smuggle people. Busts of drop houses, where illegal immigrants are often held for ransom or otherwise severely abused, are not uncommon occurrences in Arizona neighborhoods.
Today, Arizona has approximately 6,000 prison inmates who are foreign nationals, representing a cost to our state of roughly $150 million per year. Arizona taxpayers are paying for a vast majority of these incarceration expenses because the federal government refuses to pay what it owes. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, as governor of Arizona, sent numerous requests to the federal government to pay for these prisoners — only to be given the same answer she and President Barack Obama are now giving Arizona: They will not pay the bill.
Make sure to read the whole thing as she addresses the most persistent myths, perpetuated mostly by shameless demagogues on the left – including our Demagogue in Chief President Obama, about the immigration bill.
The important thing to remember about the new Arizona law is that it virtually mirrors federal law on the issue – something our President (and his Homeland Security Secretary, a former Governor of AZ herself) should know as a “constitutional lawyer.” University of Missouri at Kansas City law professor Kris Kobach, who helped the AZ legislature craft this law (and who was also an advisor to former AG John Ashcroft on immigration law), noted this in an opinion piece that appeared on the pages of the NYT last week:
It is unfair to demand that aliens carry their documents with them. It is true that the Arizona law makes it a misdemeanor for an alien to fail to carry certain documents. “Now, suddenly, if you don’t have your papers … you’re going to be harassed,” the president said. “That’s not the right way to go.” But since 1940, it has been a federal crime for aliens to fail to keep such registration documents with them. The Arizona law simply adds a state penalty to what was already a federal crime. Moreover, as anyone who has traveled abroad knows, other nations have similar documentation requirements.
“Reasonable suspicion” is a meaningless term that will permit police misconduct. Over the past four decades, federal courts have issued hundreds of opinions defining those two words. The Arizona law didn’t invent the concept: Precedents list the factors that can contribute to reasonable suspicion; when several are combined, the “totality of circumstances” that results may create reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.
For example, the Arizona law is most likely to come into play after a traffic stop. A police officer pulls a minivan over for speeding. A dozen passengers are crammed in. None has identification. The highway is a known alien-smuggling corridor. The driver is acting evasively. Those factors combine to create reasonable suspicion that the occupants are not in the country legally.
The law will allow police to engage in racial profiling. Actually, Section 2 provides that a law enforcement official “may not solely consider race, color or national origin” in making any stops or determining immigration status. In addition, all normal Fourth Amendment protections against profiling will continue to apply. In fact, the Arizona law actually reduces the likelihood of race-based harassment by compelling police officers to contact the federal government as soon as is practicable when they suspect a person is an illegal alien, as opposed to letting them make arrests on their own assessment.
It is unfair to demand that people carry a driver’s license. Arizona’s law does not require anyone, alien or otherwise, to carry a driver’s license. Rather, it gives any alien with a license a free pass if his immigration status is in doubt. Because Arizona allows only lawful residents to obtain licenses, an officer must presume that someone who produces one is legally in the country.
State governments aren’t allowed to get involved in immigration, which is a federal matter. While it is true that Washington holds primary authority in immigration, the Supreme Court since 1976 has recognized that states may enact laws to discourage illegal immigration without being pre-empted by federal law. As long as Congress hasn’t expressly forbidden the state law in question, the statute doesn’t conflict with federal law and Congress has not displaced all state laws from the field, it is permitted. That’s why Arizona’s 2007 law making it illegal to knowingly employ unauthorized aliens was sustained by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
And solely for the sake of argument, let’s say the AZ law did “discriminate” on the basis of race/national origin. So you would definitely have a case for the law being unconstitutional. But what about the so-called “hate crimes” laws pushed for primarily by the perpetually outraged left, laws that make crimes committed against “special victim groups” like black people, gay people, etc, somehow more worthy of harsher condemnation and punishment than if the crime was white on white, black on black, etc? Shouldn’t those laws be considered unconstitutional, too? If a white man murders a white man in cold blood, and another white man murders a black man in cold blood, why should the murder of the black man be considered more worthy of a more harsh punishment? If a white woman is gang raped by a group of white men, and a black woman is gang raped by a group of white men, what makes the black woman’s crime more worth of a stiffer punishment? Aren’t both crimes vicious acts of violent hatred? Yet the left, the so-called “defenders of equality” want one of those crimes to be seen as “worse” than the other. Strange, that.
Would love to read your thoughts on this.
Back to the AZ bill, there’s nothing wrong with having concerns about this bill, but it IS wrong for radical opponents of it on the left who either haven’t read the bill or have misconstrued it to suggest that proponents of the new law are “Nazis” who “favor a police state” and who “hate people with brown-colored skin.” This is one of the biggest problems facing America today, the fact that it’s very difficult to have a discussion on controversial issues like illegal immigration without someone, usually a Democrat, taking a cheap shot at Republicans via playing the race card. Until we can have open, honest debates free of the political pandering and sensationalism and demagoguery, moving forward on these types of issues will continue to be a major struggle and will take longer to resolve than they should.