Let me start out by saying that illegal immigration is a significant problem for the United States. In my opinion, the biggest threat posed by illegal immigration is the fact that both major political parties in this country use the issue to goad their followers into a frenzy. People living along the US border with Mexico might not agree, which is their privilege. They’re closer to the problem, and deal with the short-term consequences of it every day. I, however, live in the Shallow South. We have a much smaller problem with illegal immigrants here, which allows some of us to look at the forest, while others are focused on the trees.
My personal opinion is to allow open immigration, with the stipulation that every would-be immigrant gets photographed, fingerprinted, and gives a DNA sample. Make the immigration process inexpensive and not particularly time-consuming, then open the flood gates and put ’em to work- at regular wages and paying taxes.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this country making money- and scoring political points- from illegal immigration. The money bit we can deal with by fining to smithereens any company employing illegal immigrants (and jailing the company executives). The political issue, however, is a tougher nut to crack. The folks on the right like using illegal immigration to stir up thinly-disguised racism among their followers. The folks on the left like using illegal immigration to push through ever-greater entitlement programs in their quest for cradle-to-grave government dependency for all. Both groups also enjoy getting campaign contributions and other baksheesh from grateful company executives who get to use illegal immigrants as not-quite slaves. I am admittedly painting with a wide brush, but the fact remains that many politicians have vested interests in illegal immigration.
In Arizona, for example, the state legislature has sent an illegal immigration bill to the Governor for signature. Among other things, this bill would require all legal immigrants to carry their residence status documents with them at all times. That, in itself, is only slightly fascistic. Another part of the bill allows law enforcement to demand proof of citizenship from anyone who- in the opinion of the law enforcement officer- might be an illegal immigrant.
For those of you with quizzical expressions on your faces, here is a capsule description: Any cop in Arizona can demand proof of legal residence from any brown person in the state- anywhere, anytime. For those who are still wondering why this is a problem, ask yourself what will happen to the throngs of American citizens (born and raised here in the US) of Latin American descent. Now ask yourself this: how would you provide proof of citizenship if required to do so? Don’t bother reaching for your wallet- your driver’s license alone won’t do. Passport, birth certificate, or other US Government documentation proving legal residence por favor.
I’m reasonably certain that the standard of “innocent until proven guilty” is still in effect in this country, but this Arizona bill threatens to turn that on its head. Any person who looks like they might be an illegal immigrant to any cop in Arizona will now be forced to prove his or her innocence at any moment. How anyone with a functioning brain (I include Arizona politicians as a courtesy) can believe this is a good idea is completely beyond me. It’s not just un-Constitutional, it is industrial-strength stupid and utterly un-American.
I’m told that there is a large community of expatriate Canadians living in Arizona, no doubt some of which have expired visas. Will the Arizona police agencies be conducting sweeps for people wearing touks? Will there be INS raids for people who can’t quite master the words about or house? I somehow doubt it. The cops in Arizona will most likely take the path of least resistance and just pull over every person with brown skin and toss ’em in jail if they cannot provide proof of citizenship or legal residence.
Here’s a better idea: Arizona cops should make a policy of pulling over every single member of the state legislature and demanding that they provide proof of legal residence. Make ’em squat on the side of the road while the cops check their ID, all the while speaking to them in broken Spanish. See how long this law stays on the books.
If the Arizona legislature wants to do something about illegal immigration, fine. Draft a law punishing employers who hire illegals. That will dramatically reduce the number of illegal immigrants. Passing laws which turn every law enforcement agent into stereotypical gestapo (papers, bitte!) is a colossal waste of time and money, and furthermore takes law enforcement personnel away from their primary tasks in favor of harassing brown people. Imagine the lawsuits under the 4th Amendment from legal residents and natural-born citizens who get victimized by this law. The money spent fighting these inevitable legal battles would be far better spent on dealing with more important issues, in my opinion. There is no excuse for violating the civil rights of any American in this manner.
For those of you living in Arizona, you might want to un-elect every incumbent next election. The ones you have are obviously morons.
Current status: Visibly peeved
Current music: No Rain by Blind Melon