Thursday, April 26, 2012

Response to "Showdown time for SB 1070"

The Arizona Immigration Law SB 1070 has elicited strong reactions. Those who favor a tougher stance on stopping illegal immigration have celebrated the legislation since its passage in 2012. Civil Rights Groups and Minority advocates have argued with growing alarm that the law will permit law enforcement to wage unrestricted human rights violations against immigrants and legal residents of color. Within a month of Governor Brewer's signature, President Obama challenged the law in court, claiming that the Sunshine state was attempting to preempt the federal government's role in dealing with illegal immigration. Now the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the law, whether the legislation is open to broad interpretation permitting racial profiling, whether the law conflicts with federal statutes, and if key elements of the bill violate the rights of citizens and residents.

Before evaluating the merits of the law, let us recapitulate the key elements of the law:

The four key elements of the  Arizona Senate Bill are as follows:

1. Require every immigrant in the state to carry immigration papers indicating legal status.

2. During a legal stop or detention, law enforcement are required to determine the immigration status of an individual if there is a reasonable suspicion that the individual may be in the country illegally.

3. Forbids state agencies and private institutions from preventing the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

4. Punishes those businesses or individuals who harbor, aid, or transport illegal immigrants in the state.

These four requirements do not conflict with federal law, contrary to the assertion of the United States Solicitor General. The third and fourth elements are the state's statutory expressions to enforce the federal laws. To require immigrants in the state to carry identification papers will protect immigrants. The state of Arizona has every right and necessity to ensure that every individual, citizen, visitor, or legal resident is safe in his person and his effects in this country. As a citizen of the state of California, I am required to present valid identification when I am detained by a police officer, as is every individual who is detained for reasonable suspicion or probable cause in this country. To require an individual to carry on himself proof of his status in the country is not a burdensome requirement.

Having established that the four elements of Arizona's laws are neither deviant nor draconian, I am compelled to criticize the ongoing slanderous allegation that the Arizona  legislature is enabling racial profiling.

It is both alarming and disturbing that major newspapers like La Opinion insist on persisting with the flagrant falsehood that the state of Arizona has legalized racial profiling in order to tackle illegal immigration. Every member of law enforcement , whether as state or federal officials, is expected to uphold the law of the land. During a routine traffic stop or detention based on reasonable suspicion, a police officer commands the requisite discretion to determine if an individual has not only broken the law, but currently resides in the state illegally. Police officers can make these determinations based on a number of factors, including the lack of a proper license, the presence of a number of individuals in the vehicle who have no identification papers, or even the inability of drivers and passengers to speak English. These methods of discernment are not discriminator, but discretionary and are utilized in many instances.

The state of Arizona deserves recognition and respect, not condemnation and prosecution, for taking a much needed stance against a problem which harms everyone, and which the federal government has refused to deal with effectively or appropriately. I sincerely hope that the Supreme  Court upholds the law, recognizing that the law complements rather than conflicts with federal statutes. Furthermore,  Arizona, which has borne the greater part of illegal immigration in its state, is upholding the United States Constitution by maintaining the safety and security of the state and its residents, both legal and illegal.

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