June 2, 2010

Give Us Your Tired

I got an email the other day that chapped my ass. I saved it, looked at it again, and got even more pissed. And I can't quite figure out why. I don't know how this person knows me. She could be a reader, a lurker, a commenter, or my email address could very well have been plucked out of thin virtual air. And this isn't the first email I've gotten. Here are the best bits:

I live in Arizona where they have just passed a very important bill to uphold federal law regarding illegal immigration.

The vast majority of folks support this bill and many states are following suit. But there are people who want to continue to flood our country with illegals. They support open borders leaving us vulnerable to crime and acts of terrorism. It's not just Mexican illegals crossing our borders, but many terrorists from other countries who have attempted to sneak in over the years and who knows how many have gotten through.

The "open borders crowd" includes many government officials and the executive branch of the government. They want to continue to flood the country with illegals, give them amnesty and then let them vote. They do not care about our security, they just want the votes.

Illegal immigration has bankrupted many states and continues to do so. A third of our jail population consists of Mexican nationals here illegally. Go right to the people responsible for making arrests and hold them accountable.

It's Memorial Day and many of us want to kick back and have fun but remember that this day commemorates the many who have died for this great country.

God Bless

Before we proceed, a little fact checking. According to state officials, only 11% of Arizona's prison population consists of illegal aliens. In researching that little fact I found bizarre claims that up to half of the nationwide prison population consisted of undocumented aliens. Additionally, contrary to what many would have you believe, Arizona doesn't exactly rank first in a list of states plagued by immigration issues. It is, in fact, sixth. And while illegal immigration does cause problems - I wouldn't refute that at all - it's been surprisingly good to Arizona, creating $44 billion in economic output in 2009. Not insignificant especially when you have a $3 billion deficit.

Reading this gives me the same feeling I got when being labeled as a liberal in the last presidential campaign. Yes, I am liberal but that's not a dirty word. Its that with-us-or-against-us mentality that enrages me. Just because I don't agree with the war in Iraq doesn't mean I don't support the troops or don't love this country. Just because I think parts of the Patriot Act are invasions of personal freedoms doesn't make me a terrorist. Just because I don't happen to believe that the Arizona law is the solution to the immigration doesn't brand me a member of the "open border crowd" hell-bent on "flooding the country with illegals."

The threat of racial profiling bothers me. The infringement on personal liberties bothers me. The possibility of someone, based on skin color, of being asked for their papers sounds a little too Soviet to me.

While I don't believe legal US residents should suffer because of headaches caused by illegal immigration, it seems that our overall tolerance has taken a deep dive. It all makes me wonder what the inscription on the Statue of Liberty would say if it were dedicated today.

Give me your tired (but not if they're lazy workers), your poor (though don't take our precious jobs), your huddled masses yearning to breathe free (but not if they'll be a burden on our overtaxed health and welfare systems),the wretched refuse of your teeming shore (though we've manufactured plenty of our own especially around the Gulf Coast). Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door (which is labeled no admittance).

What do you think? Is Arizona on to something or are we in need of other solutions?

Posted by Chris at June 2, 2010 6:00 AM

The Arizona law terrifies me. It's legally accepted racial profiling, which I think could/would lead us down a very scary road.

In fact, there's a Republican running for Governor here in Florida whose primary platform is that he thinks Florida needs an Arizona-like law whereas his "too liberal" competitor for the primary (who has been the assumptive Republican nominee) doesn't support it.

I'm hoping that he's actually convincing Republicans to vote for the other guy (which is what he did to my Republican husband), but I worry that some people may actually be on board. I guess we'll see in August.

Oh, and the same guy still advocates the benefits of off-shore drilling. Holy hell.

Posted by: Catherine at June 2, 2010 7:34 AM

That Arizona law scares the bejeezus out of me! I do think we need stricter border enforcement, and some kind of reform for the illegals already here...a quicker path to citizenship, not the threat of deportation.I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that the Arizona law is a step in the WRONG direction!

Posted by: Lisa at June 2, 2010 7:48 AM

The two Republicans running for Governor here in CA are trying to out tea party each other on immigration. Each claims the other is soft.

I don't have an answer either but I know wrong when I see it and AZ is wrong.

Posted by: Ann Adams at June 2, 2010 8:04 AM

First, because I am a giant dork, a quote from Clueless: "And may I remind you, it does NOT say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty!"

Second, the Arizona law is fine if our plan as a nation is to abandon compassion and be completely hard-headed about immigration. I think we'll be sorry if we do.

Posted by: Julie at June 2, 2010 8:31 AM

Land of the free and home of the brave, but only if your ancestors came over on the mayflower.

However, as the daughter of a country already suffering damage due to unchecked immigration, I cant say that I disagree entirely with some of the sentiments expressed. The answer is to tighten the borders and ensure that those entering the country have a legitimate reason for being there and intend to contribute to the society they wish to adopt them. We have a crazy situation here were known terrorists are sheltered and protected by a system that they dispise and all in the name of Human Rights. I am proud of my country's history of welcoming those less fortunate or persecuted, but the bottom line is that this is an island and the resources of it's people are not infinate. The same can be said of one of your states, if I understand the structure of your government. The people should be consulted and the opinion of the majority taken into account, but those who struggle and enter the country by whatever means should not be hounded unduly or officiously simply for being different.

Posted by: ChocolateChip_Wookie at June 2, 2010 8:39 AM

Here's my two cents: Unless you are Native American, then technically, aren't we are all illegal immigrants?? Just some food for thought.

Posted by: Michelle at June 2, 2010 9:06 AM

I don't know where you checked your sources on the Arizona law, but it is not a way to enable racial profiling. That would be the Federal Law passed unanimously by the Supreme Court. The Arizona law passed by a vote of the people only allows police to ask for documentation if a person has committed a crime. Perhaps illegal immigrants help the economy, but Phoenix is second only to Mexico City in kidnappings. I don't know about you, but I would rather have my children safe than have a budget surplus. Perhaps if there was a better handle on the crime situation, the state would not be as financially strapped as it is.

Posted by: Tess at June 2, 2010 9:34 AM

Actually, the language of the statute is "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."

That's not just if they've committed a crime- that's if a law enforcement officer has "reasonable suspicion." In other legal contexts (like searching a person for weapons, for example,) "reasonable suspicion" amounts to little more than a hunch, and is less than what is required for probable cause. So under the law as written, if a law enforcement officer suspects that a person lacks legal status, they can stop them and ask for proof of immigration status.
What would give someone a reasonable suspicion that a person lacks legal status? Short of spotting them running across the border, the only ways I can think of that an officer would "suspect" such a thing are things like appearance, presence of an accent, and inability to speak English - things that look an awful lot like racial profiling to me.

Posted by: pseudostoops at June 2, 2010 9:50 AM

Arizona is well on its way to earning its own Fark tag, similar to Florida. In their defense, however, I will say that the federal government has been extremely lax in their handling of the issues involved. Still, Arizona is being run by wingnuts who are being supported by the lowest common denominator. The Sheriff in Maricopa County (Arpaio) is an out-of-control tyrant who terrorizes brown-colored citizenry in the off chance that he might find one who's illegal. He gets re-elected like clockwork based on his smear campaigns and ability to intimidate other candidates. The state is a mess and it's not because of illegal immigrants.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at June 2, 2010 10:06 AM

The spirit of this law is wrong. How can we really tell by looking who is an illegal or a terrorist. That status is something not shown by the color of your skin, eyes or haircolor- really. What this law opens up is the ability of those who legislate to require us to show visually who is in and who is out. What that reminds me of is pre WWII Germany.

Posted by: greenie at June 2, 2010 10:32 AM

Well said Chris - I am definitely going to quote you! The AZ law isn't the answer - I wish I knew what the answer is, but I don't.

Posted by: Sue R at June 2, 2010 11:01 AM

Well, I live in Arizona and have for most of my 32 years (and I swear I didn't send you that email. :) ) and while this law is by no means perfect and probably not a true solution and while yes there are possibilities that citizen's rights will be infringed upon it is a step. I don't think anyone, unless they have lived in Arizona, has an accurate view of what living in a state with rampant illegal immigration means. While you cite what supposed income they bring that doesn't take into account what they cost us yearly by being treated at hospitals for free, which we as taxpayers foot the bills for, car accidents that we end up paying for in the form of increased insurance premiums, the rise in crime (kidnappings being the most prevalent....drug related kidnappings).
I can see both sides to this new law. I am not convinced it is necessarily the solution law makers think it is going to be and while I don't advocate the mistreatment of anyone, legal or not, there is a difference between human rights and civil rights. Civil rights are reserved for those who are actually citizens. WE all, regardless of race, creed, origin, etc. are entitled to humane treatment.
I am all for legal immigration. After all we are a nation that was built on immigrants from all over. But I am opposed to people breaking the law to get here and then demanding protection from the very laws that they broke.
This is multi-faceted for sure. We need comprehensive immigration reform and I think this law in many ways is a knee-jerk response to just being fed up with a federal government that hasn't taken the immigration issue seriously for many, many years.

Posted by: Sarah at June 2, 2010 11:51 AM

as a phoenix native, I am pretty OK with this law. sure, it's not perfect... but phoenix is pretty out of control right now. crime is awful. it's why i moved away. i don't see it as racial profiling. sure, there will be cops who will abuse it and make it into racial profiling but guess what-- it already happens. sad but true. there is no such thing as a perfect law on this and an open border is not the answer. if someone is legal, why would they care if they are asked for papers? they should just ask everyone. "license, registration, proof of insurance, immigration papers if you have them." i don't know. doesn't seem to be a big deal to me.

Posted by: bri at June 2, 2010 12:20 PM

Sorry to be a buzz kill, but what part of "ILLEGAL immigrants" do people not understand? I haven't read the AZ law, as many of our law makers have not, and I'm sure it has flaws, but it's got to start somewhere.

Posted by: sw at June 2, 2010 1:31 PM

I think this is a symptom of a bigger issue going on; For the better part of a decade we have been living on a war footing; not everyone, but there are a lot of people who are afraid that they will be killed at any moment by a 9/11 like event. The early part of the decade we shopped our therapy; but the back half of the decade as things crashed the stress of a failing economy and constant war drum has pressed people past common sense.

The solution comes not from randomly harassing people on the streets. If you want to seriously fix the problem, it takes a lot effort and money. Specifically:
1. Actually build fortifications at the border. It will take a lot of money and ongoing maintenance, but a well built fence coupled with patrols and sentries can prevent most crossings.
2. Provide more money to border patrol to pay for agents and equipment all along the border.
3. Create a sane process to allow people who are here illegally to continue working while working towards citizenship or processing temporary work visas.
4. Commit to the fact that if we are going to enjoy the benefits of immigrant labor, we are going to have massive costs in other sectors. You want cheap labor under the table, then you will have to pay for emergency services when that cheap labor gets hurt / sick.
5. Stop politicizing this issue.

Posted by: metawizard at June 2, 2010 2:29 PM

Soon we'll be forcing them to wear something on their clothing so that we just KNOW . . . like a star or something . . .

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." (as quoted by Ben Franklin)

Posted by: Mindy at June 2, 2010 2:31 PM

What I don't understand is why nobody is addressing the reason that so many people are here illegally in the first place. Sure there are always troublemakers, but for the most part the people who are here illegally are not doing it for fun. They're hard-working people who are trying to provide for their families and would happily become legal if they weren't battling a broken system. I keep hearing debates on what to do about the people who are here, but nothing on what to do about the system that is creating the problem.

What ever happened to work visas? Such a thing used to exist.

Posted by: Amy at June 2, 2010 3:09 PM

This issue irks me to no end. Our country is what the world regards as freedom and having opportunities to make your own way in life. Our way of life was built on the backs and sweat of immigrants. We are the melting pot for goodness sakes and far too many seem to forget that fact. My ancestors came from Ireland.

This issue is just a push button issue for the GOP to fire up their base. It is simply window dressing. Nothing more or less.

The fact is that we aren't Europe. We have never enforced our borders well. They would quit coming here if they couldn't find work and build a better life for themselves. Everyone needs work and opportunities.

If you don't crack down on the employers and people that profit from illegal immigrants coming, this will never end. If we want to get serious about border control and keep them out, then do so, but stop this racial crap.

All is this going to do is lead to confrontations and ugliness. There is no just cause for this. Anymore than a cop pulling me over just because.

How hard is it really to cross the border? A husband in CA illegally crossed in from Mexico when he was a suspect in his wife's death and he has been charged with murder. A US citizen gets back in without his passport (Mexico has it) and everyone knows it and no one does anything about it.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at June 2, 2010 4:21 PM

Bravo for saying what a lot of people feel. The Arizona law will absolutely put people of color at risk for detainment and search. There are no parameters as to what constitutes "reasonable suspicion" other than the person looks Hispanic. What happens to a legal US citizen who has Hispanic features when they are stopped and asked for documentation (which Americans are not mandated to carry)...will they be locked up until they can prove they have done nothing wrong? My guess is that a lawsuit (or two or three) will end up challenging this law once peoples' civil liberties get stomped on enough times. There are many problems with illegal immigration...but I am quite sure that Arizona has not found the answer to the problem.

Posted by: Wendy at June 2, 2010 4:54 PM

This will probably be a really controversial statement; but, I have really mixed feelings on this one.

The notion of legalized racism is definitely troubling to me. But, the requirement that everyone carries documentation is already on the books. There is nothing in this law that contradicts the federal guidelines already - except that the state can act (where there is no enforcement of federal guidelines).

Now, the troubling bit - that there is judgment involved - it is "reasonable suspicion" and racial profiling. I have mixed feelings here too... have you heard about the seven-year-old kid whose name is on the "don't fly" list. He has been patted down and searched every time he's traveled since he was a wee baby. The agents can't use judgment to determine that he is probably not a gun-toting terrorist (smuggling illicit stuff in his legos) - his name is on the list so they need to pull him aside and do the whole routine - over and over (can't seem to get his name off the list).

Zero tolerance policies and blanket (no-judgment) policies lead to stupid moments like this - where law enforcement officials (or schools, or any agency) has to act against their better judgment to satisfy policy. This is where kids get suspended from school for a Tums (DRUGS!) or a plastic knife (WEAPONRY) for their birthday cake. This is where kids and blue-haired grannies get patted down in the airport because of their names.

A week or so ago, a 14-year-old autistic child drew a picture of himself wielding a gun toward his teacher (alarming!), but rather than finding out why he was so upset (and channeling his feelings so inappropriately), their rules mandate that he be charged with "terroristic acts" in the legal system.

This scares me a lot.

Posted by: K at June 3, 2010 10:01 AM

It is way too reminiscent of Nazi Germany for me. Papers please? Also, it's racial profiling plain and simple.

I understand that there is an issue with illegal immigration in this country but it has been seriously compounded by our super strict requirements on becoming a citizen. Additionally, it is so expensive to become a citizen it pretty much blocks out most working class immigrants.

I understand that illegal immigrants tax our welfare and other systems. However, why are people not demanding that these systems be overhauled to prevent people from scamming the system and collecting benefits and support they're not entitled to? Wouldn't that stop a lot of what people claim are the "lazy immigrants who sit on welfare?"

Also, why aren't they targeting the employees that hire illegal immigrants and pay them under the table? Wouldn't that stop so many people from coming here knowing it isn't easy to get a job?

This county was built by immigrants and on the backs of immigrants. At any given point in history one set of immigrants has been hated by the general public. I guess Hispanics are the newest group for people to hate.

Which is really upsetting when you realize that the majority of these people are coming to this country to make a better life for themselves and their families and our only answer is, "get the hell out." How sad.

Posted by: Jennifer at June 3, 2010 2:54 PM

You know what outrages me? People who are comparing this bill to Nazi Germany. That is RIDICULOUS. Have these people actually read the bill? Because I have. And here it is for you if you would like to read it - http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/sb1070s.pdf.

It is an EXACT restatement of the federal law already in place. If I go to a foreign country, it is required that I carry my passport with me at all times. I can be (and have been) stopped for any reason and asked to show this document. Why is the Arizona bill or federal law any different?

I live in Arizona. I know what is going on with this state. I know that there is corruption in the government just like there is in ANY state. We have good politicians and bad politicians. But we are not a community made up entirely of racist rednecks. We are not a bunch of fascist tyrants talking about rounding up the Mexicans and locking them in camps. That comparison is not only insulting but disgusting.

I completely 100% agree with any statement saying this country was founded on the blood, sweat and tears of immigrants. The issue is not that Arizona is anti-immigration. What we are not supporting is ILLEGAL immigration. If you want to come to this country and start a new life for yourself, WELCOME. The issue is finding a way to do it legally.

I am married to a third generation Mexican American. This is a family that refuses to be called Hispanic because they are PROUD of their Mexican heritage. They are striving to be examples in their communities and to help eliminate the fact that "Mexican" has become such a dirty word. And they are all equally proud of the fact that they are Americans. Proud that the first family members came here as migrant workers and became American citizens.

This has nothing to do with race. Due to our location within the United States, we don't get a whole lot of illegal Canadians, you know? I don't care if you are Mexican, Hungarian or Martian. Illegal immigration is costing this country billions of dollars. $397 billion dollars in social services since 1996!

Is this bill the answer? I don't know. But it's better than sitting back and doing nothing. This system is broken. It's not going to get fixed by people who are standing still. If any of you have a better idea, talk to your lawmakers. Write to your senators and congress people. Don't stand around pointing fingers and making heinous accusations. This is not an Arizona problem, it is an American problem.

(Chris, you know I have been a long time reader of this blog and Beth's. I may not always agree with your views, but I always respect the fact that you have the right to your own opinion. I appreciate how you ALWAYS back up your side of the story with facts. Please forgive me for jumping on my soap box. My intent is not to attack you or your commentors. I only want to bring a little perspective to the issue. I never comment if I disagree with you because this is YOUR blog and you have the right to say whatever the hell you want. Please know that I respect that. I respect YOU as a writer and as a person. But as a citizen of this state, as a member of this community, I can't let some of the comments left here go without a rebuttle. Anyone comparing this bill to the horrors suffered by millions of Jews is disgusting, uneducated and offensive. I hope we can still be friends.)

Posted by: April at June 4, 2010 4:48 PM

The Terry Stop Didn't Stop with Just Terry

Terry was a case that allowed police to stop people on the grounds of reasonable suspicion (stop and frisk).

The Terry Stop was further defined in the following cases:

U.S. v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873 (1975) - The Border Patrol stopped a driver unconstitutionally solely because the driver was of Mexican descent.

Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47 (1979) - The police unconstitutionally arrested a man for refusing to identify himself.

According to case law from the Supreme Court, the police can't request papers from anyone who isn't doing more than being a particular race. I really hope AG Holder goes after this one. There are thousands upon thousands of undocumented workers (as we now call "illegal aliens").


Being here illegally is a public offense. It's a) in the purview of the Feds to take care of that (ICE should be taking care of it, not the state) b) illegal to stop someone for breathing, as stated above, and c) for racist profiling in Arizona, as opposed to, say, New York. There, undocumented workers come from everywhere. In Arizona, it's going to be a particular group they're looking for. Race and ethnicity are protected classes, and this law has a clear disparate impact. For those who don't know, that's a law that needs to be struck down.

Plyler v. Doe-457 U.S. 202 (1981) the Supreme Court has also found that laws depriving children of undocumented workers (yes, even kids without their own papers) the right to go to public school to be unconstitutional.

Posted by: alektra at June 6, 2010 7:03 PM

I strictly recommend not to wait until you earn big sum of money to order different goods! You can just take the home loans or just college loan and feel yourself fine

Posted by: MadelineBrady23 at October 16, 2010 9:27 AM