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badice.com ~ travel musings for the masses

Excuse me sir, I’m going to need to see a passport or some other proof of immigration status.

That should be the last thing we ever expect to hear from a police officer on a street corner. In fact, we should never have to worry about hearing it either. The latest legislation out of Arizona allows just that type of questioning though and puts police officers on the front lines of enforcing immigration and naturalization. It is fairly obvious that the law Arizona has passed will not stand up to Constitutional scrutiny and will eventually be thrown out. However, whether or not you agree with the law, it has done one very important thing, brought an issue unfamiliar to a large portion of the population to the front page. Immigration is a subject that people hear in passing or mentioned on the news occasionally, but for those not near a border, and in particular, the Mexican border, immigration is something not to be worried about. This is the wrong attitude. Immigration issues affect jobs, healthcare, education, and just about every other aspect of life, so we should be taking interest in what is happening in Arizona.

Living in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or California affords one the opportunity to see what illegal immigration in its current form is all about. You can step into an emergency room and see a number of people in this country illegally waiting for treatment, you can drive by the nearest strip center and see day laborers waiting for work, and you visit schools and talk to children who’s parents are migrant workers looking for the next employment opportunity. These scenes are around us everyday and they are becoming more common outside of border states. So how do we define “illegal immigrant”? They are someone who is in this country illegally, whether that be due to an expired visa or if they crossed the border without being documented.

A fact that will surprise many is that the fastest growing group of illegal immigrants is Indians, not Mexicans or Guatemalans. They are here for work and schooling and usually their illegal status is due to the overstaying of their visa. This does not make it any less of a problem, it simply means it is slightly less complicated. This leads me to my next point, which is that we have created some of this mess simply with the way our citizenship system works.

As the law stands now, a child born in the U.S. is a citizen of this country. The citizenship of the child’s parents does not come in to play at all. I am not suggesting that we change this, I just want to point out that our measure of citizenship creates a very ugly situation if we are to start deporting people left and right. Technically, the children would stay in the U.S. and would become wards of the state. We’ve now taken a slight burden of having a mom and dad illegally in the country and turned it into the state taking a child into foster care because of their parent’s immigration status. This seems to be an unsustainable way of dealing with the issue of citizenship and illegal immigration.

There has to be some way to solve this. During the large Italian emigration to the U.S. between 1870 and 1920 there was a very similar attitude toward immigrants, especially those suspected of coming here illegally, as there is today. The Italians flourished though and became a very welcome part of our country and part of that was due to their efforts to assimilate. They kept their customs but worked hard to become part of the communities that they lived in. This is a necessary step for illegal immigrants now, just as it was then. That means we need a way for those who are here illegally to become legal citizens. No, not amnesty, as that denigrates the hard work of those who have pursued legal citizenship. We need a system that allows illegal immigrants to get in line for citizenship and to begin to pay taxes, etc. My theory is that a large portion of the illegal population want to stay here and be legal citizens, they just don’t have a way to do it. If they do have that way, then we’ll have the opportunity to deport those who are here illegally by choice, who’s sole reason is criminal behavior.

While Arizona may have taken extreme steps to get a point across, it’s a point that’s necessary. Europe is struggling to handle their own illegal immigration issues and we have an opportunity to be a good example for what to do in response. People who emigrate here are the whole reason this country is great, but that does give the green light to sneaking into the country illegally. Let’s do the right thing and encourage Washington to seriously evaluate citizenship procedures and take the responsibility of enforcing the federal borders out of the state’s hands.

 

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  1. April 29, 2010

    Very interesting post. I appreciate your perspective since you are close to the border and the situation.

  2. Brian / Steelsun #
    April 29, 2010

    Sorry. I think most of the ruckus about the new law in Arizona is just hot air and posturing by the extreme left.

    They are just allowing the local law enforcement to inquire as to the status of someone’s citizenship during their routine other duties, like traffic stops. They won’t be just walking up to someone and say “Show us your papers!”

    Right now only ICE/HomSec agents ask those questions easily, as most local law enforcement has not been allowed to due to their superiors (the local politicians) pandering to groups like LULAC and others that encourage illegal activity (like coming into the country illegally).

    Am I against immigration? Hell No. Just do it the right way. 2 of my grandparents were immigrants (1 Europe, 1 Canada), and the other 2 both had their parents immigrate from Canada.

    But Illegals are a drain on the system/economy far outweighing any benefit to us.

    The whole issue of them having to leave their babies behind is also BS. Parental rights triumph, and they would be able to take their kids home with them. It is a common occurrence, unless they choose to abandon them here. And if they are the type of people that would abandon their children, do we really want them here?

    • April 29, 2010

      Brian,

      I agree that a lot of it is hot air, but at the same time, I do not want the state to become the enforcer of federal law, that too is a drain.

      The issue of leaving babies behind is the one where I think you are slightly wrong. There is a lot of abandonment that already happens and no, we don’t want the abandoner here, but from what I have seen, those parents usually want what’s best for the child and think America can provide it.

      Again, I want people to come here legally, but there has to be a better way to deal with illegal immigration than going around asking people their status. With the number of Indian citizens overstaying their visas, are we going to go to college campuses and walk into businesses and start rounding people up? That’s the precedent I fear the Arizona law is setting.

  3. Jeff #
    April 29, 2010

    I guess I’m the extreme left (again) as I think the AZ law is terrible for both civil rights and law enforcement. If the state passed the law for the purpose of forcing the federal government to take up the issue, then fine. It might be the kick in the butt needed to force Congress to work out a compromise along the lines of what you suggest. But to the extent the law reflects the true sentiments of the voters, I think it reflects very poorly on the state. I predict the courts will issue an injunction pending a decision on the law’s constitutionality and it will never go into effect. Politically, the big winner in all of this is Democrats.

    • April 29, 2010

      I am not sure how it’s a far left sentiment to believe the AZ is a bad idea. I’m of the opinion that I just do not want police officers spending their time looking for illegal immigrants when they could be fighting immediate crime.

      Sure, this whole thing is fodder for people like Maddow and Olbermann, but their ideal way of handling this issue is amnesty, which from your reply, I’m not sure you agree with. Giving people who broke the law to get here (and they know they break the law or they wouldn’t cross the Rio Grande in the middle of nowhere) a blank slate while others work hard to become citizens is not the American ideal. Give anyone who is here illegally to a spot in the line to become a legal citizen and if they refuse, send them back.

  4. Jeff #
    April 29, 2010

    Maybe I’m missing something but the proposals I’ve read, including the legislation supported by Bush when he tried to deal with the issue (which I supported), do not include amnesty for illegals, unless your definition of amnesty is anything short of rounding up and deporting everyone. Like every other difficult issue, the way forward is through compromise.

    • April 29, 2010

      The definition sentence you used made me think a certain sarcastic MSNBC took over your body and started typing.

      You’re right, the Bush legislation did not include any form of amnesty but groups like LULAC are strong lobbyists and they want amnesty, along with certain Democrats, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and Robert Menendez (and even a Republican, Lindsey Graham). [http://dailycaller.com/2010/03/15/amnesty-bill-is-latest-white-house-crisis/] It appears that Graham has dropped out of those negotiations though. Reid is still pushing for amnesty and wants to speed the entire process up.

  5. Jeff #
    April 29, 2010

    Huh? Steve King’s labeling of the bill currently being discussed as “amnesty” aside, how is the legislation that Reid, Schumer, Menendez and Graham have been discussing any different than the Bush bill? If anything, I’ll bet the measures they’re considering are more punishing than the Bush bill. I’m sure Steve King called Bush’s bill amnesty, too.

    • April 29, 2010

      We don’t know much about the Reid bill and that’s an issue. Bloomberg has reported the following:

      The proposal attempts to provide a way for the estimated 10.8 million people in the U.S. with no legal status to become citizens. First they could be provided with a “lawful immigrant status” that lets them to work and travel outside the U.S. Later, eight years after current visa backlogs are cleared, they could petition to become permanent U.S. citizens, under the proposal.

      (Source)

      The difference between that and the Bush bill is the way people become citizens. The Reid plan essentially gives them a Bio-ID card and makes them semi-citizens while Bush’s bill put them in the queue for citizenship. The Bush method is, in my opinion, the way to go. We do not want to reward people who enter or remain in this country illegally by letting them jump the line to become citizens.

  6. Jeff #
    April 29, 2010

    I’ll wager the bill that eventually goes to the floor will include other penalties and requirements similar to the Bush bill. We’ll have to wait and see. The only thing certain is that Steve King will still call it amnesty.

  7. Jeff #
    April 30, 2010

    Speaking of details, here’s a pdf summary of the just released proposal: http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/REPAIRProposal.pdf?hpid=topnews

  8. Jeff #
    April 30, 2010

    David Frum, whom I respect a lot, gives a worthwhile defence of the AZ law here: http://theweek.com/bullpen/column/202381/In_defense_of_Arizona

    • April 30, 2010

      Thanks for posting this. He actually makes a good point in how the AZ law is to be applied. All of the rhetoric about stopping people in the streets (and like I alluded to in my opinion) is not what the bill suggests at all.

      Frum is absolutely right that we have to do something to discourage illegal immigration and if Arizona’s law has signs of doing that, I think we’ll see similar legislation in other states.

  9. May 19, 2010

    Maybe I’m missing something but the proposals I’ve read, including the legislation supported by Bush when he tried to deal with the issue (which I supported), do not include amnesty for illegals, unless your definition of amnesty is anything short of rounding up and deporting everyone. Like every other difficult issue, the way forward is through compromise.

  10. May 27, 2010

    David Frum, whom I respect a lot, gives a worthwhile defence of the AZ law here: http://theweek.com/bullpen/column/202381/In_defense_of_Arizona

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