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Stop attacking Arizona law

By Alexander Pherson

May 23, 2010 10:21 pm

The ire over Arizona’s new immigration law is mystifying for two reasons. In the first place, the law merely intends to execute what has already been called for by 50 years of federal law, seconded by the dictates of common sense: illegalize the illegal immigrants.

Then, there is the self-defeating nature of the proposals for dealing with this supposed injustice, which focus on vilifying the malefactors (the law’s framers) and starving them into submission ““ along with the illegal immigrants themselves ““ by boycotting their homeland.

On the road to clarification, we ask ourselves the fundamental question: In what way does the new law disdain, or contradict, the overarching laws that apply to illegal immigrants (the supreme law of the land)? The answer depends on how seriously we take the existing federal laws.

Arizona’s solons are merely being diligent by stipulating, “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.”

However, this view does not register with many Americans for a few reasons. First, attempts to root out illegal immigrants have failed miserably in the past. Second, immigrants are thought to be a vital source of labor for U.S. businesses. Third, worries abound that civil rights abuses will undoubtedly ensue if law enforcement officers become overzealous and begin investigating people who are only marginally suspicious.

These are not invalid concerns, but they must be balanced against an equally uncomfortable set of facts. That includes the number of illegal immigrants already present, which is roughly estimated between 10 to 12 million (half a million in Arizona alone).

Our thoughts immediately turn to the huge cost of absorbing such a massive slice of humanity.

Here, sympathy rests chiefly with the out-of-work American, who chafes under a system that allows foreign nationals to come into the country illegally and be hired for jobs. Their plight contrasts with the image constantly ginned up by pro-immigration activists, of the porcine rancher who ruthlessly exploits his workers and lives comfortably off of their labor.

Moreover, the illegal immigrants living in poverty contributes to a series of other burdens. As these burdens grow worse, demand for government assistance grows exponentially, tightening the cinch on the productive ““ and legal ““ members of society and sending us deeper into debt.

The solution proffered by former President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama and others to this problem ““ amnesty ““ would institutionalize these burdens by making anyone who is here illegally a legal citizen.

Nevertheless, it continues to gain in popularity because the alternative ““ uprooting some 12 million people from their adopted homes ““ creates logistical and humanitarian demands we have yet to sort out.

One of the biggest challenges is assembling the requisite police forces to undertake this kind of deportation.

As we begin to wade into that problem, we are faced with the derivative question: What is to be done with naturalized citizens, the liminal group of people born in the United States whose parents are here illegally?

While these problems have no easy answers, it does not pay to shirk them, as many people who are recommending “blanket amnesty” seem inclined to do. Nor is it constructive to vilify supporters of Arizona’s new law.

Predictably, not everyone agrees. Since the law passed, people sympathetic to the pro-immigration cause have gone on a rampage, portraying Arizona as a “fascist” state.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney sounded in on the subject on his blog: “I can’t imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation.”

In case verbal attacks don’t succeed in reversing this legislation, a plan is also in motion to boycott the hapless state.

While it is not clear that Arizona will suffer from this scheme (what do they produce, anyway? Spurs?), it is sure to do great harm to the planners themselves.

Singling out one state for punishment will not sit well, particularly if the government is forced to make cuts in areas that disproportionately affect immigrants (e.g., health care, unemployment insurance, etc.).

The internecine damage wrought by this ploy could be easily avoided if we leave the issue to its proper handlers ““ the courts. Until it reaches that level, an effort should be made to refrain from using invective as a tool for intimidating one’s opponents.

For amnesty supporters, this would accord with the first rule of social policy-making, “do no harm,” which is not served by comparing Arizona to something wild like Hitler’s Germany, or an “apartheid” state.

Concomitantly, we should all do our best to uphold duly passed federal laws, even if we disagree with them, or Washington continues to drag its feet.

E-mail Pherson at [email protected]

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Alexander Pherson
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