Friday, April 30, 2010

That One Arizona Bill

So that one Arizona Bill passed and has people up in a grand hullabaloo about things like racial profiling being allowed and whatnot when it comes to finding out the legality of illegal immigrants and all. Many claim racism, many claim racial profiling will be used. Until a few days ago, I had not read the bill, which can be found here.

Anyways, as far as immigration goes, I think the system is broken overall, the system to allow people in. Obviously when amnesty has been granted twenty or so years before and it is being talked about again, it means the something is wrong. But this post isn't about the ethics of illegal immigration per se, it is about the bill that has been passed.

As far as the the law, I disagree with racial profiling people to boot them out of the country just because they are illegal. The fact that there are 12 million plus illegal immigrants who take jobs most Americans don't want, how they're trying to make a living and all doesn't mean they should be booted just because they didn't get in the processing line to move here. Again, there are many factors and this post is more about the Arizona Bill and less about illegal immigration. So when I heard about the bill, an Arizonian said that things like out of state license plates, thick accents or their inability to speak English could be means to determine if someone is illegal, which I don't think necessarily serve as a good measuring stick to find out if someone is here illegally. But that is the hearsay talking points of the bill, of how everyone understands it, or how at least the Media portrays the bill as a license to check every Hispanic in Arizona to see if they are illegal immigrants and boot them out. Again, I don't think that just because someone is here illegally, they should be booted out if found out.

But from reading the bill, here is what I, some average Joe college student can determine about the bill:

  • Section 2, Article B says that,
    "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" and will verify with the Federal government the immigrant's status.

    This is probably part of the bill that gives most people concern, reasonable suspicion. What is reasonable suspicion, how is it determined? I disagree strongly with this part of the bill because I don't think illegal immigration itself is bad for the country. The system needs to be fixed and simplified so people can enter. Make it less expensive to get a visa, to become a citizen. So honestly, I don't think an officer who suspects that someone is an illegal immigrant should be able to check to their status. Nor do I think that the officer should be able to take into custody anyone who is unlawfully present in the country, which is what the following allows:

  • Section 2, Article D: "...A law enforcement agency may securely transport an alien who is unlawfully present in the united states and who is in the agency's custody to a federal facility in this state..."

  • Now this last part I am iffy about:

  • Section 2, Article E: "A law enforcement officer, without a warrant, may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the united states."

  • Again, talking to Gio_s, I found out that before the law was written, officers of the law could not deport illegal immigrants who commit crimes. So while I agree that if an illegal immigrant commits a serious crime they should be deported, I think that the wording of "Any public offense" is too vague. There needs to be some qualification on what they can be deported for, because speeding could be construed as a public offense (I am not sure, I am assuming. I am not a law student) and they could be deported for that. So I think a qualifier has to be added in, so it isn't any public offense, but stuff like class 1 misdemeanors or the like. Something serious like breaking and entering.

    What I do like about the bill though are these:

  • Section 2, Article C: "If an alien who is unlawfully present in the united states is convicted of a violation of state or local law, on discharge from imprisonment or assessment of any fine that is imposed, the alien shall be transferred immediately to the custody of the united states immigration and customs enforcement"

  • Again, my last statement already talks about transferring illegal immigrants imprisoned to be deported, but the part about any fine bothers me. A parking violation fine or something small should not mean someone is deported. There needs to be a qualifier added in for how or when to deport people.

  • Section 2, Article J: "This section shall be implemented in a manner consistent with federal laws regulating immigration, protecting the civil rights of all persons and respecting the privileges and immunities of united states citizens."

  • This is good that it is stated, I think it means it will assume everyone is a citizen of the United States. I am not sure about this, honestly and I wonder how the reasonable suspicion declaration would mesh with this. I mean, if an officer pulls you over for speeding, you should give him your identification, but where does reasonable suspicion come into play in other situations? Is it lawful for a police officer to stop someone walking down a street and ask them for identification if they suspect that person is an illegal immigrant? So I am curious how the two would interact without negating or side stepping this provision.

  • Section 3, Article B, sub section 1 and 2: "In the enforcement of this section, the final determination of an alien's immigration status shall be determined by either: 1. a law enforcement officer who is authorized by the federal government to verify or ascertain an alien's immigration status. 2. a law enforcement officer or agency communicating with the united states immigration and customs enforcement"

  • This I like because it ensures that a police officer or department has to work with the federal government. They cannot just decide to deport someone they think or believe is an immigrant. They have to confer with the federal government in finding out the legal status and on what to do. Nothing in this bill says that that state can deport someone without the federal government's say so. So this I like and agree with.

    And then there is Section 4, Article E which says that police officers can pull over anyone who violates civil traffic laws. On a first glance, one should think that "Duh, any officer should do this", but on second glance I read the part that says, "NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER LAW..." and wonder if a police officer can pull over a diplomat or someone with diplomatic immunity.

    So while I like the bits where it firmly states that if an illegal immigrant commits a crime that they can be deported, I think it is too "all or nothing" when it comes to immigrants, in that it gives officers of the peace the power to check the citizenship status of anyone they suspect as being an illegal immigrant, and the ability to confer with and deport any illegal immigrant. As stated above, I think some qualifiers need to be in place in determining who can be deported, because I don't think it feasible in terms of costs of determining illegal status and deporting, nor do I think illegal immigration is entirely bad for the country as it means 12 million more people buying things, paying sales tax, doing jobs most Americans don't want, and other things of that sort.
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