Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, a tough immigration law, has sparked national debate as individuals have begun to rally for and against the bill, marking its arrival at the Supreme Court.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill two years ago in response to the increasing number of illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico, in addition to the federal government’s failure to stop illegal immigration. As a result, the federal government sued, saying Arizona overextended its authority as a state.
Although many argue Arizona’s immigration law is overreaching the state’s power, I believe it is helpful the state has stepped in where Washington D.C. has failed. And while others say the bill is racist, I believe it is necessary.
Opponents of the bill claim the law relies on racial profiling and ethnic stereotyping, and allows state law enforcement to interfere with the particulars of federal immigration policy. President Barack Obama has asserted the federal government alone has power regarding immigration enforcement.
After years of federal paralysis, with Washington either unable or unwilling to act to fix the immigration system or protect the states, it is a reasonable action for states to take matters into their own hands.
In reality, Arizona’s immigration law is largely consistent with federal immigration policy by simply enabling state officials and police to assist in enforcing federal immigration laws. Specifically, it requires local police to check people’s immigration status while enforcing other laws if they have “reasonable suspicion” they are in the country illegally.
Yet the hazy definition of “reasonable suspicion” is what has produced outcries from the public concerning the racial profiling the law endorses. Bottom line is: racial profiling works regarding immigration. The only reason you see Uncle Sam and his grandma being patted down at airport security is so TSA upholds an image of being “politically correct.” When a police officer asks more Hispanics than Caucasians to show their papers, it is not racist, it is efficient and common sense.
Arizona is the country’s most heavily traveled state for smuggling and illegal immigration. The U.S. Department of Justice said Arizona's population of 2 million Latinos includes an estimated 400,000 who are there illegally, according to NPR. Considering these statistics and its 370-mile border with Mexico, Arizona has paid a disproportionate price for illegal immigration.
Consequently, Arizona has struggled with security concerns and the high cost of caring for and educating illegal immigrants. The Obama administration does not seem to care how much taxpayers are burdened with costs regarding illegal immigrants, but the citizens of Arizona are clearly fed up.
Despite outspoken criticism, “the law was viewed favorably by the people most closely affected by it: Arizonans. Sixty-four percent of residents supported the law,” according to USA Today. Other states agree with Arizona’s immigration law as well, seeing that five other states have now adopted similar laws.
Arizona’s controversial immigration law has also forced presidential candidates to take a clear position on the matter. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney indicated he was considering a wide range of immigration policies, including a proposal from Sen. Marco Rubio. This proposal would allow some of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants a chance at visas to stay. The best antidote to illegal immigration is a legal immigration system that works, and our country is finally headed in the right direction.
It appears the Supreme Court justices leaned in favor of Arizona’s immigration laws based upon statements on April 18, and are ready to allow Arizona to enforce part of their state law. It is a good day for the Constitution and a bad day for those trying to tear it away paragraph-by-paragraph — not to mention a bad day for illegal immigrants, too.