Controversy erupts over Arizona Immigration bill

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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