Bordering On CrazyEssays, Featured — By Jordan Green on April 27, 2010 at 1:00 pm
Feel free to read it yourself (it’s not an overly difficult law to understand), but here are some important excerpts:
“Requires a reasonable attempt to be made to determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state or a county, city, town or political subdivision (political subdivision) if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.”
“Requires the person’s immigration status to be verified with the federal government pursuant to federal law.”
“Allows a law enforcement officer, without a warrant, to 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 U.S.”
“Disallows officials or agencies of the state or political subdivisions from adopting or implementing policies that limit immigration enforcement to less than the full extent permitted by federal law, and allows a person to bring an action in superior court to challenge an official or agency that does so.”
“Specifies that, in addition to any violation of federal law, a person is guilty of trespassing if the person is:
a) present on any public or private land in the state and
b) is not carrying his or her alien registration card or has willfully failed to register.”
There are a number of things that make the United States great, but maybe the largest is that an individual’s rights takes precedence over the public as a whole. That’s the balance of the Fourth Amendment: protect the liberty of the law-abiding individual, even if that sometimes means we end up protecting some of the guilty as well. This means we value our right to free speech, to assemble, to our individual pursuits, even in the face of death. It means an organization like Revolution Muslim, which recently made news by vaguely threatening Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is allowed to operate relatively freely. It’s one of the things that separates us from a nation like China, where illegal immigrants and Muslim extremists alike could be swept up by police and imprisoned under unfair pretense.
Predictably, many of my Arizonan friends were angry and took to the streets!
(Okay, they took to their Twitter and Facebook accounts.)
“‘Vere are your papers,’ they ask here in Arizona. ‘Vee must zee your papers!’”
That last one was mine. As I said before, this was an awful law. I mean, it’s not awful for me. Police aren’t going to storm into the public library and demand to see my citizenship status because I’m middle class, white, and I speak English in a bland Pacific Northwestern accent.
Now hold on, you may be saying. This law might be bad, but conducting immigrant round-ups in a public library? It’ll never come to that.
So yes, I’m opposed to SB 1070. Now that’s established, I’d like to provide some perspective.
Immigration reform has to happen at some point.
As Governor Brewer mentioned a number of times in her speech, something had to be done.
There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life.
We cannot delay while the destruction happening south of our international border creeps its way north.
We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act.
But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.
All of these things are true. Phoenix has the second highest number of kidnappings in the world outside of Mexico City. Arizona is a hotbed for human trafficking and the most frequently-traveled path between drug cartels and their American clientele. The impetus for this particular bill was the murder of a southern Arizonan rancher at the hands of an illegal immigrant, which is certainly upsetting. And the federal government has done very little in pursuing immigration reform, presumably because it primarily affects four states, but also because they’ve had a number of other hotbed issues to deal with.
SB 1070 is not the most effective way to combat the narcotics trade and human smuggling, but it’s something. When you combine that with a Republican-dominated state legislature (and generally Republicans who have more in common with Sean Hannity than Mitt Romney), a Republican governor eager to make a name for herself after being assigned to office when Janet Napolitano became head of Homeland Security, and a conservative voting base reacting crazily to a Democratic federal government, you might just get a bill like SB 1070, a law that would’ve been shot out of the water in more level-headed times.
Again, though, it’s something.
The shoe is on the other foot.
The opposition to SB 1070 almost uniformly came from my left-leaning friends.
They see this law as an egregious attack on civil liberties, one more example of an extremist political faction chipping away at the fabric of what makes our nation great. Regardless of what the law actually states, they are assuming the worst. They believe that removing the constitutional handcuffs from law enforcement officials like thuggish Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is comparable to letting an angry Rottweiler off-leash.
Live in the Phoenix area for long and any reassurance that racial profiling won’t be part of the process will be swept away. Are there raids of local European restaurants looking for illegal immigrants who have fled various Balkan nations? Not that I’ve heard of, but every few weeks, Sheriff Arpaio is shaking down food cart operators in largely Hispanic parts of town, day laborers, or the staff of supermarkets with Spanish language names.
Regardless of what Governor Brewer says (“My signature today represents my steadfast support for enforcing the law — both AGAINST illegal immigration AND against racial profiling.”), opponents of SB 1070 don’t believe it. And why should they? Does anyone really believe this law applies outside the Hispanic community, or the Native American community with similarly brown skin?
To recap, many of those liberals fear the federal government has achieved unprecedented power, power that will be used to control the populace and infringe on our rights as Americans. They believe this power will be taken to its extremes, casting allusions to Nazism (“Heil Brewer!”, “Vere are you papers?”), despite assurances it won’t.
Now read that last paragraph again. Replace the word “liberals” with “conservatives”. Replace “Nazism” with “Communism” or “Socialism”, and you’ve got the popular stance of Tea-Partiers, a group almost all those same left-leaning Facebook friends of mine have dismissed as right-wing nutjobs.
My point here is not that opposing SB 1070 is a bad thing, or the anger and rhetoric at Tea Party gatherings is a good thing. There’s some legitimate philosophical ground on both sides. It’s not crazy to believe government is good at supplying some services, and bad at supplying others.
But it strikes me as hypocritical to claim indignation when the growth of government doesn’t work in your favor. Liberals railed against the unprecedented secrecy and expansion of executive power during the Bush years, then expand the influence of the government as soon as they regain control. Conservatives rail against higher taxes and welfare, then applaud when law enforcement is granted leeway and defense spending goes up. Both sides may quote 1984, but I’m beginning to think such Orwell’s dystopia was more likely the result of opposing sides escalating until such an environment was possible.
Anymore, it seems the default response to any problem, on either political side, is “fix it with the government!” That’s why groups like the Tea Party are gaining traction, and that’s why it bothers me when they are dismissed as wackos. Insane posterboards have played well for news cameras, but a NY Times poll of the movement showed the Tea Partiers aren’t all the uneducated rubes they’ve been depicted as. If they coupled their self-serving criticism of “Obamunism” with equal attacks on laws that don’t affect their income, but promote government intrusion all the same (like SB 1070), maybe they’d gain some legitimacy. Same goes for Republicans and conservatives who claim they oppose big government.
If we’re willing to point out the pitfalls of linking American Christianity to conservative politics, we have to be willing to do the same when the pendulum swings the other way. Mostly, we need to find a new perspective. More and more, I find that perspective leaning toward Christian anarchism, or at least non-participation in government. Or if not that, then at least our first approach to any problem should be how to solve it without government assistance.
It’s not that government is necessarily evil anymore than a corporation is evil, it’s just that it is not truly controllable or ideally effective. We cannot expand government’s influence in one sense and stare in shock when it turns Frankenstein’s monster against us.