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25 Jul 2014
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What's Wrong With Arizona?

Comment

Over the weekend, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony joined in on the attack against the new law passed by the Arizona legislature to expand police powers to arrest and deport illegal immigrants. The law basically makes it a crime to be an undocumented alien. If that doesn't sound like an inherently controversial proposition, believe me, it will by the time it gets to court.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, is still deciding whether to sign the bill. If it becomes law, it is certain to keep lawyers and judges busy, if no one else.

The obvious danger is that it will be an invitation to racial profiling, to stops based solely on appearance and to punishment for the status of being undocumented rather than for the act of entering the country illegally. Unbridled discretion to stop, detain and punish people for their status is almost the definition of that which due process condemns.

Even so, it seems to me that Mahony's strident criticism is unfair to the angry, frightened and frustrated citizens who live in fear of the violence that illegal immigration is bringing to the border. It only contributes to the very kind of polarization he condemns. Calling the bill "the country's most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law," Mahony wrote on Sunday that the "tragedy of the law is its totally flawed reasoning: that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder and consume public resources. That is not only false, the premise is nonsense."

Most immigrants come to this country for the same reasons my grandparents did: in the hopes of finding opportunity and freedom, because they want a better life for themselves and their children and are brave enough and desperate enough to face huge obstacles and great dangers in their quest for that.

They do not come to rob, plunder and consume public resources; they come to work and to contribute.

The same, however, is not true of the smugglers, the coyotes who prey upon the desperate and use violence as their way of doing business — that business being trafficking in people, drugs and weapons, leaving citizens in border towns rightly frightened and desperate.

Bad times produce bad laws. The problem is not the premise of the law, but the desperation that has state officials and decent citizens searching for equally desperate solutions.

Talk to decent people in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, as well as California, where I live, and you don't hear them railing against people consuming public resources. When California Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner recently proposed that undocumented children be kicked out of school, the move was seen by almost everyone — including his opponent Meg Whitman, who is way ahead of him — as an act of desperation, proof that his candidacy is floundering. What was once seen as a winning strategy in political terms is now rightly recognized as a loser in both the courts of law and public opinion.

The federal government is supposed to secure the border. Its failure to do so effectively not only invites measures like Arizona's, but complicates — if not dooms — the prospect of immigration reform at the national level.

In the final analysis, the greatest threat to the rule of law is the lawlessness that leaves both desperate immigrants and desperate citizens vulnerable and afraid. Rather than condemning each other, we need to find ways to secure the border that are consistent with the values and security we all came to this country hoping to find.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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Comments

9 Comments | Post Comment
This issue is the point where I part ways with liberals. For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone would defend a person who enters this country illegally, no matter how long he has been here, how hard he has worked or how many children he has produced once here. It's because I myself cannot imagine entering another country illegally. I would be breaking that country's laws and I would expect to get caught and punished. I would not expect to be greeted with open arms and helped by either its citizens or its government in any way. I am sorry that people in other countries have bad economies and bad governments and want something better. But they should stay there and make it better, not barge into a country whose citizens have done the hard work of making THEIR country a good place to live. It's like stealing the blood, sweat and tears of every American past and present who has built this country, sacrificed to protect it and volunteered in countless ways to improve it. And it disrespects all law-abiding American citizens and weakens the rule of law. I say whatever it takes to identify and expel those here illegally should be done. Else why have laws?
Comment: #1
Posted by: Laurie Craw
Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:40 PM
I have no problems with immigration as long as it is done legally. I live in Arizona and Iread and hear daily the crime rate, murders of innocent people and police officers by illegals. I see the hospitals, schools overcrowded by illegals who demand our services. Who pays for all of this? We the tax payers pay and meanwhile we are in a budget crisis state wide. I think the media and this includes you Susan are making a bigger issue of this bill then need to be. People will not be profiled like you and others state. I watched the news last night and you can tell those who are being staged to talk about this issue. It is for the safety of our law enforcement officers, innocent people and financially to a state that is laying off teachers due to lack of money . Again I have no problem with immigration if done legally and I do not understand (I do because the democrats want to make immigration our next fight) why you and all liberals can not look into their souls and do what is right and lawful then what will give them power and greed.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Kathaleen
Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:27 AM
I sent your article to another person from Arizona. This was her response to it. She does not blog : I will tell you what I think. I think if the illegals would do it right and get their citizenship the right way. They could pay taxes, work, not take up the resources that we all have to pay for. Thanks to illegal immigrants my mom's school may be shut down do to a failing rating for the state. They come at the beginning of the year and withdraw and re enroll through out the year to get the freebies then bring down the Aims scores. Now who suffers? My mom who has put in almost 20 years and 3 years from retirement, who may be forced out of a job and lose everything she has worked for. My Mom's School District has given rif notices to 239 teachers. WOW! I think they should pass the law. I wouldn't ever think of going to another country illegally. Say Germany or Africa, or Mexico for that matter.

Comment: #3
Posted by: Kathaleen
Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:05 PM
I've lived in Arizona for over 30 years. In that time I have listened to politicians in D.C. give the immigration issue lip service...without giving any teeth to whatever gets passed.
Now...Arizona said enough of the Federal impotency on this and enacted laws that have some teeth to them. and guess what...liberals begin screeching at the top of their lungs that this is nazi, or communist, or racist, or bigoted, etc.etc.yada/yada/yada.
I've been out hunting in southern Arizona and have seen firsthand...how many make it past the 'patrolled' border & move their way northward.
Maybe liberals should form their own sovereign territories & then we can set up some safe travel zones & said left handers can transport them to said places...and support them...since they are so vital to America.
Posted on the AzCentral website today is a poll stating that 70% of Arizonians agree with the new laws.

Respectfully.........one of the 70%
Comment: #4
Posted by: smallmouthbass
Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:16 PM
What is wrong with Arizona?? You have to be kidding. There is nothing wrong except the failure of the Federal government to enforce their laws. Arizona is merely doing what I would expect my state to do as well given the same circumstances.
It is time for political correctness to exit the scene. Illegals are taking advantage of our "correctness" and sticking the tax payer with the bill.
Is there any wonder that Sheriff Joe Arpaio continually is elected by substantial majorities?? He and the Arizona legislature are a reflection of the opinions of the electorate.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Ray
Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:22 PM
This article is just too comical. Ms Estrich, when referring to a person's immigration status, please use the correct terminology. Since they are in fact breaking the law, using a word such as "illegal" is more appropriate than the word "undocumented". If a worker who enters a country illegally is referred to as "undocumented worker," then can a drug dealer be referred to as an "unlicensed" pharmacist?
As a person who believes we should have open borders, I have no doubt that we need to reform our current immigration laws. However, until that time, we need to follow the existing laws. As ill advised as prohibition was in the 1920s, the distributors of alcohol were still referred to as criminals and not unregistered liquor salesmen.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Frankie Barbella
Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:28 PM
I really am having a difficult time understanding your thoughts about the Arizona bill concerning illiegal immigrants. Having taught for 35 years I have seen how children of seemingly illegal immigrants consume those services for which American citizens have paid. The children of these parents who pay taxes etc. because they are legal, cannot receive many of the services their own children might need because the amount of time alotted is all used up by children of people who pay no taxes to the schools. The same goes for the resources of the hosptals in many cases. Why can't a hospital check to see if these people are legal immigrants to our country. The mere title illegal immigrants means they are doing somethnig against the law. Do they want to come to make a better life for themselves? I am sure they do, but they need to do it legally like my grandparents and parents did when they came to this country. They went through the proper channels and they worked hard and never received any help but that of their own hard work. If our national government cannot spot the illegals then we as a nation need to put in place measures when we can find them and send them back. No disrespect but it seems you need to get out there and see what is happening in many areas in regard to illegals before you write an article that doesn't cover the extent of this situation.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Diane Lueckel
Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:17 AM
Reference: "What's wrong in Arizona" Once again the real issues have been ignored. We need to remember the two words "illegal" and "undocumented." I have worked in the Middle East, Central and South America. If you are caught by the local authorities without your required documentation you will be immediately deported - if not arrested and held prior to. No legal counsel, no trial or advocates shouting out discrimination. Racial profiling? As an obvious outsider, I was daily approached by local military, police officers and security as to my status, reason for being in the country, contacts to support my status and to review my documentation. I went nowhere without my passport. In fact, I kept a second in my apartment just in case my original was lost or stolen. In addition, I was also expected to speak the language or have my own interpreter present. No effort was made to post signs and instructions in English to make my life easier. As an employer, I have no problems with immigrants trying to improve their living conditions. Many have worked with me, not only in labor capacities, but as supervisors and fellow inspectors. As a citizen of the USA, however, I must insist that they obtain employment legally just as others have come before. If we do not agree with our required entrance policies then lets change them, but don't come against those who are simply trying to follow the law of the land as presented. If the Federal Goverment will not address the issues, nor enforce the laws "they" created...then the States are going to. If you want to point fingers...do so in the right direction. Challenge...work "with" the States and local organizations to force Congress to change entrance requirements and reform our immigration programs. In the mean time, however, we will continue to empower our local officials and State representatives to enforce the current laws. Undocumented workers and illegal status individuals (whether criminal or not) will continue to be deported until our government position changes. Michael Buchman
Comment: #8
Posted by: michael buchman
Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:16 AM
Reference: "What's wrong in Arizona" Once again the real issues have been ignored. We need to remember the two words "illegal" and "undocumented." I have worked in the Middle East, Central and South America. If you are caught by the local authorities without your required documentation you will be immediately deported - if not arrested and held prior to. No legal counsel, no trial or advocates shouting out discrimination. Racial profiling? As an obvious outsider, I was daily approached by local military, police officers and security as to my status, reason for being in the country, contacts to support my status and to review my documentation. I went nowhere without my passport. In fact, I kept a second in my apartment just in case my original was lost or stolen. In addition, I was also expected to speak the language or have my own interpreter present. No effort was made to post signs and instructions in English to make my life easier. As an employer, I have no problems with immigrants trying to improve their living conditions. Many have worked with me, not only in labor capacities, but as supervisors and fellow inspectors. As a citizen of the USA, however, I must insist that they obtain employment legally just as others have come before. If we do not agree with our required entrance policies then lets change them, but don't come against those who are simply trying to follow the law of the land as presented. If the Federal Goverment will not address the issues, nor enforce the laws "they" created...then the States are going to. If you want to point fingers...do so in the right direction. Challenge...work "with" the States and local organizations to force Congress to change entrance requirements and reform our immigration programs. In the mean time, however, we will continue to empower our local officials and State representatives to enforce the current laws. Undocumented workers and illegal status individuals (whether criminal or not) will continue to be deported until our government position changes. Michael Buchman
Comment: #9
Posted by: michael buchman
Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:18 AM
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