Motives and paradoxes presented by Arizona’s immigration law…

After managing to get my computer operating better, I was able to do a little internet reasearch on the Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, and so I offer an update to this post: 

It should be clear to everyone that although there may be a host of intentions behind Arizona’s tough new immigration law, to include racial prejudice and xenophobia, as well as legitimate concern over drug violence spilling over the Mexican border and terrorism, and the competition for labor presented by illegal immigrants, the fact is if congress would do its job, that is reform or at least demand enforcement of current immigration laws and rules, there would be no controversy. 

So both President Obama and Democrats who support him in his challenge to the new state law, and Republicans who support the Arizona law are in a sense shooting themselves in the foot. Obama is politically injured because a majority of voters reportedly support the Arizona law. Republicans are wounded because they already have a hard time recruiting in much of the Hispanic community, and much of that community (not all) opposes the law. 

But I think that there is pressure on the congress, on members of both major political parties, to actually preserve the status quo where we pretend to strictly enforce immigration laws but —  wink wink nod nod — allow a sufficient flow of cheap labor not always subject to wage and working condition standards as home-grown labor. 

Nominally, President Obama’s administration represents the Democratic Party.  It is challenging the Arizona’s law in court. But that puts Democrats in tight congressional races on the hot seat because a majority of the voters nationwide reportedly support the Arizona law. So all Democrats probably do not support the law or would not want to say so. 

I find it strange indeed — well not really —  that so many Republicans are demanding enforcement of immigration rules and support the Arizona law. At the same time they say that enforcement must come before reform. Me thinks they want it both ways. As good representatives of business interests who prefer cheap labor (or at least vulnerable labor that is not in a position to complain of working conditions), they don’t want reform which might offer citizenship to illegals, but as representatives of right-wing reactionary citizens, they want to be seen as rounding up illegals. 

(If your read John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of  Wrath you will recall it depicted police at the California border turning  emigrating “Okies” away back in the 1930s.) 

Several other states, besides Arizona, have at least introduced similar legislation. There are several court challenges pending to the Arizona law, most notably now the Obama administration’s challenge based on the U.S. Constitutions’s supremacy clause that basically says federal law and federal law enforcement trumps state actions in areas where the federal government has jurisdiction, immigration being one of them. 

It seems to me what we have here is a kind of state’s rights argument that I thought went out with the Civil War. It would be highly impractical to have each state trying to enforce immigration in its own way. What next? Each state making treaties with foreign powers?  I know Sarah Palin can see Russia from her front porch (but she’s not even governor of Alaska anymore). 

Don’t take from this that I do not think the states should be concerned. If illegal immigration is causing problems then something needs to be done on the federal level and the state’s should be pressing their U.S. senators and congressmen to do something.  

Some have argued that all Arizona’s law really does is the same thing that federal law requires. If that were so, however, there would seem to be no need for a new state law. Actually, the Arizona law purports to force police to make, and support them in doing so, a harder effort to identify and arrest or detain illegal aliens they encounter in the course of their normal duties. 

There has been some complaint or mention from many, including me, that police would be demanding to see people’s papers in Nazi fashion. I mean, do you carry around your birth certificate (Obama doesn’t — just joking)? 

But a summary of the law tells me that if one has certain types of I.D., most notably a valid driver’s license, he or she is presumed to have legal status (and that is strange since as I understand it illegals often can legally or at least easily get driver’s licenses). 

While I don’t think state’s should directly enforce federal immigration law or make their own immigration law,  I do not understand why local police could not as a matter of policy be on the lookout for illegals and when they encounter them in the normal and lawful course of their duties turn them over to federal authorities. I would see no need for state law to do that. The courts and ACLU might think differently, I suppose, and there is no guarantee federal authorities would take action. 


My original post, with minor revision,  follows: 

I said that I would post something about the legal challenge to Arizona’s new tough immigration law which is supposed to actually go into effect July 29. 

It seems to me the Obama administration has a good case in its challenge based on the Constitution’s supremacy clause.  

In reality I think the Obama administration in part is trying to curry favor with the portion of the Hispanic community that is offended that some of its members might get caught in the search for illegal aliens. But since the law has not taken effect yet, one can hardly make a case that there is racial profiling or other types of discrimination. 

But I believe immigration is the bailiwick of the federal government and it is not practical to have each state decide how to enforce immigration, and  the Obama administration did too and felt that was its best argument. 

It is kind of strange that the Democratic Party, often seen as the friend of labor, finds itself fighting a move to cut down on illegal foreign labor, while the Republican Party, who among other constituents, represents business interests who lure the illegals over, is supporting Arizona’s immigration law. 

Of course the concern is also over drug thugs and other criminals who come over the border. And supporters of Arizona’s law say since the federal government is failing to do anything about the problem of illegals coming over the border, the states are forced to do something. 

There must be quite a lot of pressure to preserve the status quo, that is let illegals come over and provide a steady supply of cheap or relatively cheap labor, otherwise I would think something would have been done by now.


I believe the Arizona law also has provisions to fine those who hire illegals and one that prohibits soliciting for day labor — all well and good, but again the federal government needs to run this show, otherwise it will all be a free for all with each state acting as a separate sovereign nation. We need federal immigration reform now, even if it is only enforcing laws and rules already in effect — yes, and it’s probably a lack of funds and manpower that is standing in the way, as well as the behind-the-scenes political pressure from the cheap labor crowd and even those who want special status for certain immigrants.


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