Arizona passes an immigration law and common sense takes a holiday

Joe R. Hicks is vice president of Community Advocates and host of “The Hicks File” at ” title=”” target=”_blank”>

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed into law SB 1070, which is either a desperate or logical move to deal with a pressing problem—illegal immigration.

The new law brings Arizona into line with something that’s been a feature of federal immigration law since 1940, when it was signed by none other than the liberal icon President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  It simply requires immigrants to carry their legal documents.

Mirroring federal immigration law, SB 1070 empowers Arizona police to check the immigration status of people they question or detain where “reasonable suspicion” exists.  Immigration activists, Latino nationalists, civil rights figures and even some politicians have called the law “racist” and “Nazi-like.”

The hysteria has been nearly unparalleled, with many misstating—on purpose or from ignorance—what the Arizona law will do and, more importantly, what it will not do.

But first, perhaps it’s important to sketch out the problem Arizona faces.
It has been estimated that Arizona has something like 460,000 illegal residents out of a population of 6.6 million people.  It is believed that 9 million to 15 million illegal aliens currently live in the United States and that more than 700,000 people have entered the country illegally every year since the mid-2000s.

Amnesty advocates like to point out that undocumented aliens come here from difficult economic circumstances with only one purpose in mind—to work hard.  OK, this is a generally accepted truism.

Nonetheless, there are other facts that immigration activists shy away from. To date, nearly 20,000 people have lost their lives in Mexico’s brutal and bloody wars between that nation’s ultraviolent drug cartels.  That violence is spilling across the border, with suspected cartel assassinations taking place in Los Angeles, San Diego and many border cities in Texas.  Arizona has been hit particularly hard by the Mexican drug violence—Phoenix is now the kidnapping capital of the United States, with more crimes of this kind occurring there than any city outside of Mexico.

Arizona’s Maricopa County Attorney’s office says that 22 percent of felonies in that state are committed by illegal aliens—yet only 10 percent of that county’s adult population is composed of undocumented immigrants.  The state’s Criminal Alien Assistance Program has revealed that illegal immigrants were 11 percent of the state’s prison population, but illegal aliens are 8 percent of the state’s adult population.  And the Border patrol has said that approximately 17 percent of those arrested in its Tucson Sector have criminal records in the United States.

However none of this has curbed the hysterical rhetoric.

President Obama has awkwardly lurched into the Arizona debate.  He said, “You can imagine if you’re a Hispanic American in Arizona … suddenly, if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out for ice cream, you’re going to be harassed.”

Either the President has been badly informed regarding the facts of this law or the man who styles himself as an agent of “hope and change” was engaging in fear-mongering.

Roger Mahony, the soon-to-be-former Archbishop of the Los Angeles Archdiocese wrote on his blog that “I can’t imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian communist techniques.”  This historically insulting reference was followed by his comments at a May Day rally in Los Angeles where he sermonized that “everyone in God’s eyes is legal.”  Religiously speaking, this may be true—but, the last time I checked, God wasn’t in the business of enforcing immigration law.

However, most appalling was the fact that these comments came from a man who has been publicly shamed for his “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” approach to priests under his authority who engaged in the sexual abuse of children. 

Not to be outdone, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – perhaps taking a break from his inability to deal straight-up with the city’s budget woes—said at the same May Day rally, “We (Latinos) are the Jews of the 21st century.”

So, this mayor believes the plight of largely Latino illegal aliens, who made a free choice to migrate, in the process ignoring this nation’s border laws, is the moral equivalent of a Jewish people who have in the past faced deadly persecution from anti-Semites and ultimately near-annihilation at the hands of Nazi butchers.  This is a stunningly wrong-headed comparison.

Perhaps the ultimate in racial victim politics is to claim—as this mayor did—that it is now somehow open season on all Latinos because Arizona has passed a law to deal with law-breakers.

Of course entertainers and members of the mainstream media have weighed in.  Keith Olbermann told his ever-shrinking MSNBC viewing audience to “Boycott Arizona-stan!”  Joy Behar came up with one of her usual weighty intellectual observations, suggesting that Arizona’s law is “like, sort of Nazism a little bit.”

Then Shakira, the Colombian pop singer with the swivel hips, and now suddenly an immigration expert, held a press conference to breathlessly say, “Are they really willing to enforce a law when they know it is going to crush the dream of so many immigrants who would like to have a shot at the American dream?”

While this pop singer styles herself as an “activist,” it is obvious from her comments that she knows nothing about the specifics of the Arizona law and, if possible, even less about this nation’s immigration laws.  The law, in Arizona or at the federal level, welcomes legal immigrants.

But Shakira and others seem to think that it is somehow “mean” to make it against the law to sneak into the country.  This kind of flat-Earth thinking might be summed up this way: “Laws—we don’t need no stinkin’ laws!”

But let’s stick with Shakira’s lament about preventing “immigrants” from having “a shot at the American dream.”  Having a shot at the American dream is the magnet that pulls legal immigration from all points on the globe.  Literally millions of people worldwide would give almost anything for a chance to migrate to the United States … but any sensible person would agree that this nation can’t accommodate all who want to come here.  That’s why there is a lawful immigration process.
All of these over-the-top claims that Arizona has become a “police state,” that the law is “racist” and “Nazi-like” really need to stop.

The Arizona law is clear that race, color or national origin cannot be factors in enforcing the law. Arizona’s law officers must have a lawful, independent basis for stopping someone, and individuals can only be asked for immigration documents if the officer has “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country illegally.

What might “reasonable suspicion” be? Let’s speculate for a moment: If someone gets pulled over by a police officer and doesn’t have a driver’s license or any form of ID whatsoever, chances are that person just might be in the country illegally.

Citizens of this country routinely get asked to produce ID— credit card purchases, buying airline tickets, security lines at airports, entering government buildings, getting ticketed by a cop, among many other such instances.  None of these examples, by the way, has anything to do with one’s skin color, accent or national origin.

But the circus continues: the omnipresent Rev. Al Sharpton led a march in Phoenix against Arizona’s law.

Let’s just be honest here for a moment.  Many so-called immigration activists are opposed to any enforcement of immigration law.  Like Shakira, they seem to believe that America should be a “y’all come” kind of place.  An open border and a welcome mat for all!

You’ll excuse me if I dissent from that proposition.