Controversy erupts over Arizona Immigration bill

Thursday, December 19th, 2013 By

A US Immigration Official.

Opposition to the Arizona immigration bill voices concerns over powers of law enforcement. From Wikimedia Commons.

The recently passed Arizona immigration measure, Arizona Senate Bill 1070, has ignited a firestorm of controversy.  Opposition from Latino members of Congress to the clergy have decried the bill as tantamount to making racial profiling not only legal, but de facto policy for Arizona police.  The state of Arizona is among the hardest taxed states regarding illegal immigrants, with law enforcement there running for emergency cash loans to deal with the problem.

Arizona immigration reform SB 1070

The Arizona immigration reform bill, SB 1070, just passed the Arizona House of Representatives, and is due on the governor’s desk soon.  The bill, according to the Christian Science Monitor, would enable police officers to determine immigration status of suspects involved in crime.  The bill would also make it a crime for immigrants to not possess valid immigration paperwork. Proponents contend the state must intervene where the federal government has failed to, in the wake of greater numbers of illegal immigrants and the recent murder of a rancher.  Arizona currently spends more than $1 billion a year because of illegal immigration and may be running for extra cash soon if no solution is reached.

Latino members of Congress in opposition

From CNN, several Latino members of the U.S. Congress have called for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill.  Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva (D) has blasted the bill as discriminatory against an entire ethnic group.  Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) contends it also impedes federal immigration authority as well.  Isabel Garcia, a legal defender in Arizona, says the bill “legalizes racial profiling.”

Los Angeles Cardinal blasts bill as totalitarian

In an article by the Los Angeles Times, The Archbishop of the Los Angeles Diocese, Cardinal Roger Mahony, compared the methods authorized by the bill to “German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques.” Bishop of the Tucson Diocese, Gerald Kicanas also protested the bill, and both are calling on Governor Brewer to veto the bill.  They contend that a fairer policy on immigration is called for, and Mahony’s blog maintains that the impetus behind the bill is an unrealistic view of immigration, as many come to this country looking to make a better life with honest labor.

Immigration reform has been an issue of great contention

Immigration reform efforts have long been a hot topic in the U.S.  In the late 19th century, Asian immigrants were heavily discriminated against (and again in WWII), and immigrants from Mexico and Latin America are now the cause de jour.  There have been numerous attempts to tackle illegal immigration from Mexico for decades. Harsher crackdowns haven’t appeared to work in the past, and perhaps pragmatism rather than authoritarian solutions is needed.

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This post has 36 comments

  1. glenn hubbard says:

    I hope this law will pass in all states. The problem is not only in AZ. Let the american people stand-up together for what is right. Maybe the welfare system will be less abused. I support Arizona.

  2. Dustin Dixon says:

    I did not read everything here, but thought I would address the "we need laborers" statement. That is a bunch of bull. There are plenty of legal US citizens that will pick crops for small wages. Here is Phx there are countless corners with day laborers standing by. I am sure some are illegal, but a lot of them are legal.

  3. kelbell34 says:

    Almost 1/2 a million illegal immigrants live here in AZ. I say it's more than about time that something was done. Racial profiling got you upset? Why? If you're not here illegally (note I said ILLEGALLY) then show your licence and go on with your day. If you're here illegally, then, in my opinion, you deserve to be incarcerated and deported. It doesn't really even matter about the resources and funding that is spent to assist these illegal immigrants, the crimes committed, or any of the economic reasons being brought up. What it comes down to is that almost 1/2 a million people have broken the Laws of this country they so want to be a part of, and entered the country. If they wanted to be Americans so badly, why not go through it legally. Oh yea, that's right, because our immigration process is too slow and bogged down….because of the time spent on illegal immigrants already here. I say lay off AZ and let us take care of our own backyard, and you worry about yours. If California, New Mexico and Texas want to criticize and point fingers, then be prepared because where do you think these people are going to go to? I say to illegal immigrants, this is last call, time to go, you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here!!

    • Steven Tarlow says:

      Kelli, I'm with you about not allowing illegal immigration. But the people who cry racial profiling (at least some of them) have the well-founded concern that law enforcement officers could conceivably pull over anyone who appears vaguely Hispanic and hassle them.

      Do you not see the potential problem there? There are many people of Latino heritage living throughout the United States. The vast majority of them are here legally, and they may have been for generations. In addition, they contribute with their tax monies and are generally committed to being solid American citizens (as solid as the next person, I'd say). If a police officer has been given carte blanche to pull anyone out of the crowd and demand that they show ID or be arrested/deported, how does that honor the good that legal immigrants have brought to America? It doesn't. It would be insulting and racist. And remember, Arizona has somewhat of a negative history when it comes to race relations. They cancelled Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, you know. Even if it was reinstated as a non-paid faceless holiday (and it was reinstated only after much protest), the damage was done.

      That being said, I think most amnesty talk is a joke and that illegal immigration needs to cease. America is overextended. For too long, the image of the Statue of Liberty welcoming all the masses has conditioned our minds to believe that keeping the door open for all is the best way. We're discovering more with each passing year that total leniency creates serious problems.

  4. frank B says:

    What many Americans do not understand so far is that Mexican goal is to recover the territories they sold to USA in the past. More Mexicans in USA means a growing danger. AZ governor is a heroe and a patriot, Obama is a traitor who wants to give AZ to Mexico.

  5. Elena1186 says:

    I understand what is going through these peoples minds that oppose this bill….dont you all understand having illegal immigrants from any country (including Mexico) take from your pockets and your pay check. We pay for their medical bills, their wel-fair, and tons of other things that are all on the American tax payers shoulders. So opposing party, tell me what is fair about that? They have rights….in their OWN country. Why should we have to fit the bill and suffer because of that? Still not with me on this?? Ok then tell me how fair this is. My cousin's husband was murdered in February in Phoenix, AZ. She and her husband stopped at a liquor store to pick up a few things and to shoot the breeze with the employee that her husband had known. A Hispanic male came in and tried to commit a beer run and her husband stepped in and talked him out of it. The guy put the beer back and could have left without any cops involved. The guy instead pulled a gun and pointed at her husband. My cousin stepped in the way and begged the guy to just leave. He instead hit her in the head with the butt of the gun and knocked her to the ground. Her husband went to help her up and was shot!! He was shot…OVER BEER!!! He died in her arms. The shooter was nowhere to be found. His parents (illegals I may add) called the police department to turn her son in. The cops found out later that his parents drove him to Mexico to be safe from our legal system. His parents, as well as his sister, were taken into custody for doing what they did…only to be deported back to Mexico!! Now you tell me where the fairness is in that?

    • Steven Tarlow says:

      Rights in THEIR OWN country, absolutely. If they are undocumented workers in America, they are NOT Americans. They're simply skirting the law here while their own government is let off the hook.

      Your store is horrible, Elena. I'm sorry for your family's loss.

  6. Peter Stone says:

    Obviously, what is in place now is not working. Also, the bill could easily be construed as opening the door to tyranny, which is also not good. A better idea would be either to make it easier, but mandatory, to legally immigrate into the US to become a resident, OR for those that don't wish to repatriate themselves to another nation, guest/worker visas.

    The thing is that heavy handed methods of dealing with problems firstly don't work in the long run, and secondly, end up only benefiting the state, and by that I mean government, as a separate entity from the populace. What is better is to find a way that both sides benefit. We need the labor, otherwise they wouldn't be here. They need the money, otherwise they wouldn't be here. The immigration bill, as it stands, does not seem to address illegal immigration in such a way that will benefit anyone other than law enforcement.

    • Steven Tarlow says:

      Well Peter, the "we need the labor" argument could definitely be questioned. We have it here in America without illegal, undocumented help, but growers want to continue paying slave wages. It was even worse than it is today before Cesar Chavez got involved.

      Undocumented Mexican workers need to earn money to support their families and also need access to services that they cannot attain in Mexico. Thus, the U.S. is a land of greater opportunity. U.S. companies want to pay as little as possible for their labor, and they hire undocumented workers because they can get away with paying them less, since they aren't in line to receive the same rights as documented American workers. It's an exploitative relationship that the law ultimately allows to exist because government hasn't shown the stomach to enforce the laws.

      • Peter Stone says:

        The point is that nothing is going to stop them from coming here, and it seems that no one really wants to go ahead and face that fact. People have tried, and it isn't working. Therefore, something that benefits both sides is a better arrangement. This bill doesn't. If anyone happens to remember any US History, there was a series of particularly nasty anti-immigration laws aimed at Asians – at first it was the Chinese (not so much as a thank you for the railroad) then the Japanese, Filipinos, etc. Guess what? Those laws…also didn't work.

        As to migrant workers, especially those that work in agriculture – I agree. I think that laws should be put in place which mandate employers pay the same wage to migrants as to anyone else – thereby eliminating the incentive to hire them.

      • Steven Tarlow says:

        What would benefit both sides is Mexico's government getting its act together. And while I don't envision internment camps along the lines of those Japanese-Americans faced during wartime (remember that word: war time… it was a different scenario), I can easily see the tent villages so common in the hidden valleys and gulleys of souther California being uprooted and sent south, across the border, so that Mexico's government will be forced to deal with their problem.

        All that being said, I still say that the AZ law will be a nightmare to enforce, even if I agree with the founding principles. Abuse of power will be entirely too easy.

  7. N Weber says:

    I can see how this bill is meant to provide security from the drug cartel issues that have plagued Norther Mexican in recent years. Lets not forget how influential the United States is in the world, and if this problem was really important, do you not think it would have been taken care of already? Do you know why not? Because there are people in our own government who have their hand in the cookie jar that is drug-trafficking. But that is another topic altogether.

    I myself believe that welfare in general has plagued our nation. Did you not see the report of a town in, if memory serves me correct, somewhere in the Adirondacks, where the majority of the people, who are majority white, live off the welfare system, and they are citizens of the US. And do you honestly believe they pay taxes? Now, no one argues the fact that something has to do be done with immigration, and some sort of overhaul or reform must be done soon. And no one is arguing the fact about who pays taxes and who reaps the benefits. The main issue here is the power it gives local law enforcement to pull over anyone they question to be illegal here in the US. I hope we all agree that Latinos aren't the only group who has illegals. How many Europeans and Asians come here illegally? The only reason they aren't highly publicized is because many, especially the Asians, keep their own kind hidden among their self-made cities. Let me ask you this: How many Asians do you think will be pulled over should this bill go into effect? How many people of European decent, who speak with a German, Russian, French, etc. accent will be questioned? Now, how many Latinos? Let's not be blind here to see who this bill is really aimed at. Have you seen how Asians drive? Do you think they all have legal, legit drivers licenses? Why aren't we focusing any attention on that group? How would you feel if the roles were reversed, say if it was United States of Mexico, and you were in the country illegally, and you go there to provide a better living for your family and a bill similar to this is passed? I think it would be very hypocritical for you to say you would be okay with it because you aren't really in that situation. I'm not pro-Immigrant, but I am pro-rights, and this bill goes against that belief.

    • Steven Tarlow says:

      OK, N Weber, you say you're pro rights. Nothing wrong with that concept. But shouldn't those rights apply first and foremost to citizens and foreign nationals with legal passports who are visiting? Flying under the radar by being undocumented (regardless of ethnic group) presents a great loophole through which millions take advantage. Yes, I do believe that the welfare state is also problematic, but that's a separate issue. We seem to agree on the major issue regarding law enforcement and how they'll enforce their granted power. It could get ugly, even if the principle behind the AZ bill may be sound.

  8. DJ says:

    Too many people look for controversy and a reason to make something out of nothing… Illegal immigrant…hmmmmm not an American citizen, correct?? Then the problem is become a citizen the way our country wants you too, or leave. Too many people, from all races, want their cake and eat it too, without earning it the right way.

    • Steven Tarlow says:

      It's the handout mentality that has developed in America. If you're paying into the tax base, then you are without a doubt entitled to services. Committing serious crimes may alter one's rights, but that's the long and the short of it. If you are in America illegally, don't pay taxes and expect to be handed services, you deserve your rude awakening. I think that while Arizona's enforcement of their new immigration law could be problematic (racial profiling, giving law enforcement too broad a brush to determine who is an immigrant and who isn't, etc), I like the precedent it could set for the rest of the country. However, implementation will be a problem and will be hotly contested.

  9. drallan says:

    You are all missing the point. This Governor is a true Patriot! If anyone in our nation has studied any history, you will find out that when your borders, language, and culture are jeopardized, then you lose your identity as a nation. Don't believe me? Just ask the ancient Romans. Oh, I forgot, most Americans can't remember or are not being taught history anymore. Just how many of you even know what our Constitution and Bill or Rights gaurantees? How about its a privilege to come here and BECOME an American. How about you are breaking our laws by coming here illegally. Don't confuse my opinions, immigrants made our country, however, my ancestors came here legally, learned English, had pride in becoming American, and never asked for a hand-out. They never drained our system, they added to it! Nowadays, everyone has the "accommodate me" attitude. They want us to speak THEIR language and help them out. I am so tired of our WEAK tolerance attitude. Its this type of complacency that marched Poland into Hitler's hands, Stalin's ability to reign over Russia. What, do you honestly think that we as Americans are completely immune to ways of the world? How ignorant we are to act so foolishly. Do your homework. Stop buying the feel good politics. Wake up and use your head, before someone from across the borders decides to place it on a stick and absorb your beachfront property as their own.

    • Steven Tarlow says:

      “Feel-good” politics… exactly! The comparison between illegal Mexican immigrants and the immigrants that built America is largely invalid, based upon your argument. Yes, many illegal Mexican immigrants have provided labor for America’s agricultural industry, but that doesn’t erase these facts: 1) Illegal immigrants (of ANY race) place undue stress on civic resources without contributing to the tax pool; and 2) There is no such thing as “jobs Americans won’t do,” including agricultural labor. Of course the entire economic system in America’s agriculture industry would change because of the heightened pay scale for Americans in those jobs, but perhaps it would not change as radically as some would like to think.

  10. ramru says:

    I PAY TAXES. Illegal immigrants do not ….. (weekly $32.00 on taxes, and never get refund-tax)I pay taxes too

  11. SAM says:

    By the way, I'm from Southern California too.

  12. SAM says:

    It's not an economic issue, it's an issue of one group of people deciding who is deserving and who is not. When you favor one group of people (or point fingers at one group, as the case may be), you are trying to decide who deserves what. You know what? Maybe some people think that YOU don't deserve government services. Maybe NO ONE deserves free services and everyone should just pay their own way. Eliminate taxes. You want to have kids? Pay for their education. You want health care? Pay for it. You want money in retirement? Save for it. You want to eat? Work for it. Where did all of our immigrate for a better life, American dream, work your way to the top values go in this country?

    • Steven Tarlow says:

      Gee SAM, you're completely missing the main point here, and you're attempting to obfuscate the issue by hiding behind a ridiculous scenario that will never come to pass in America. I deserve government services because I PAY TAXES. Illegal immigrants do not, yet they are allowed to take constant advantage.

      While I certainly would not begrudge hospital services to a dying man, there has to be an uncrossable line. The way taxpayers are constantly given the shaft by illegal immigrants overtaxing resources in various parts of this country – primarily but not exclusively in southern CA, AZ, NM and TX – causes the overall quality of services to decay greatly. That is absolutely an economic issue, as money and resources are inseparably tied. Children do not receive sufficient instruction in public schools and emergency rooms are stuffed to the gills. These are two of many possible examples. Good for you being from Southern California, too. Either you weren't paying attention or you didn't spend much time on "that side of the tracks."

      • Malind says:

        Illegal immigrants do pay taxes thru the ITIN number, it Is my opinion is that This state is tryIng to recoup lost money due to the recesion at the illegal immigrants cost. Sure this bill will pass Hispanics will be sopped and arrested taken to immegration where they will give them the option to bond out and be deported at a later date. So they will between $5 to $7 thousand dollars to be released and put back in the same community they were picked up from. So what does the state do with this money that's what you people should be asking. Then you talk about security when we freaken give child molesters second chances to do what they know how to do best molest kids. The USA is so worried about the "illega immegrants" they have in the in their cities but they open their doors with there arms wide open to the same people we are at war with and caused September 11th. So as you can see we fight with Mexicans but greet the terrorist. It was NOT the Mexicans that took the pleadge of alligance out of our schools it was us the Americans. It was NOT the Mexicans whom hijacked three airplanes and flew them into the trade center, it was the people we allow in legally. So what is the real injustice of being Mexican cause remember that "all men are created equal" Oh wait that is unless you were born in Mexico right.

      • Steven Tarlow says:

        While I disagree with the "they do pay taxes" for the same reason I give in my comment to Molly, I will say that I also know from first-hand experience that we are not exactly greeting people of any Middle Eastern nation here with "open arms." As an educator, I worked with many Chaldean people, Afghans, Persians and more, and everyone faced serious discrimination at one time or another. The injustice is not racially motivated; it is a matter of exploitation and politicians who have no stomachs – they fear they'll lose votes. As long as the little man suffers but politicians still get their bread buttered, the politicians don't care a whit.

      • Malind says:

        Ok maybe I was wrong to say "they do pay taxes". Some of them do file their taxes even though they do not qualify for the child credit because they are filing with an ITIN number. I've seen and know people who receive their IRS letter staing "you owe this amount and they pay it they don't complain because they only received $200.00 back even though they have 3 kids. Can anybody tell me how many Americans don't pay taxes? It's probly the same amount but nothing is said about that we just point the finger at the mexicans. Let's talk about welfare, if you have no social you do not qualify for food stamps, AFDC, or Medicaid the kids they have that were born here qualify but the amount given is limited because the parents are not legal. Now let's talk about all the nationalities that do have socials. They get AFDC, foodstamps, Medicaid, utilitie assistance, rent assistance they give them free classes to better prepare them for the job force they also help some if them pay any outstanding fines so they can get their liscense re-instated. Some of them Eat, live and dress better then any legal or illegal workers I know. These peoples don't pay taxes but the sure do collect it and get a bigger refund then the average working person. Majority of the welfare are young and healthy but refuse to work, I mean really why should they if they could live off of the tax payers. They get free 100% free insurance, plenty of food stamps, and enough money to make arrangments on their bills so they can buy a 30 pack with the rest while our elderly have to pay for insurance that pays 80 20, very little are lucky to qualify for Medicaid as their secondary insurance. If they are lucky they will qualify for some food stamps and or utility assistance. So they have to pay for insurance, rent, and utilities on an income of a thousand or less while the young live like kings and queens and or eldey live like pesants. So could someone tell me what's wrong with that picture, pobly not we'll just blame it on the mexicans. So know we talk about "security" what security do you not see the news, just look out you front door and observe and tell me what security. People need to stop pointing fingers and foucs on our real issues our kids. They are the future of the USA but we are so blind and want to point fingers that were missing the fact that our future is not looking so bright and is not the fault of all the illegal people in our contry it is are own.

        Pardon any misspelled words it's hard to go back and spell check on an iPhone.

      • Steven Tarlow says:

        Malinda, I certainly don't support the abuse of the welfare system. It is definitely a rampant problem that politicians also fail to address properly. Providing a more stable environment (with better public education) for our children is indeed vital. I agree with you that that is the most vital issue we as stewards of future generations can address. Welfare abuse and illegal immigrants who abuse the system are both responsible for the degradation of resources. I can't forget either one, as it's all part of the same problem. While some may pay based on ITIN number, it's still not nearly enough. Free rides by the able-bodied has to stop… which leads into the whole thing about people who are perpetually on disability… another ball of wax. See what happens, the longer we look at these problems? We notice more and cry out because of the government's inefficiency…

      • PO2 Macias says:

        What Steven Tarlow fails to see is that this will only divide the nation, raise discrimination ( in which I have already faced two days before finishing my leave in Texas returning to San Diego)and place many Latinos and Asians as second class citizens. There will be noway I’m ever going to convince you, as you will never convince me in to your views. You will be surprised that there are plenty people in Mexico who oppose Calderon for meddling into the U.S. affairs instead of leading the country and deal with narcotics.

      • Steven Tarlow says:

        PO2 Macias, I don't doubt that there are native Mexicans dissatisfied with their president. Clearly Mexican politics have been in shambles for some time. The drug war is more out of control than it has ever been.

        Regarding discrimination, there has to be a better way to allow people of other countries to make positive contributions in America – allowing the status quo to continue isn't the answer. Migrant workers may pick the food that makes it to my table, but that doesn't mean it's ok for many of they to enjoy benefits paid for by legal taxpaying citizens. A middle ground must be found. The Arizona law may prove to properly enforceable; that will depend upon how well trained and impartial law enforcement can be. I applaud Arizona's guts in taking a bold stance against a system that takes advantage of taxpaying citizens.

    • Chloe says:

      Agreed. The strongest economy in the world right now is Hong Kong, the ONLY completely capatalist economy. No government involvement, no problem.

  13. free_us_citizen says:

    there is nothing in this bill about race its about security. this bill is forced on Arizona because the federal government will not up hold it constitutional duty and secure the boarders. in fact it will not even enforce the laws on the books. so we in Arizona must take action to protect our self from the drug lord and terrorist that are coming across the boarder and destroying our state. So if the Feds will not enforce the law we are forced to do so our self.

    my advice to the 420,000 illegal’s in this state is leave know will the getting is good.

    • Steven Tarlow says:

      I'm from Southern California, so I know something of what Arizona is going through. The honest truth is that persons in the country illegally exploit the tax-paying base through their use of services. It's a particular problem in public schools. That isn't a race issue; it's economics.

    • Malind says:

      Because all drug lords and terrorist are illegal mexicans right!!

      • Steven Tarlow says:

        Nope. Didn't make that claim, either. In fact, if I recall, I made a point of differentiating. But it sure makes for a stinging comment, doesn't it!

      • Naraida says:

        Shut up you racist. My parents were both illegal and Mexicans and they are certainly not drug lords or terrorists. STUPID !!!!!

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