Get over yourself, Arizona

Harrison Leonard

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Harrison Leonard
contributing columnist

I am a conservative opposed to Arizona’s recently passed immigration law.

SB1070 does not reach five pages in length. It is not specific. It “mandates” that law enforcement avoid any form of racial profiling as a basis for detaining suspected illegal aliens, but provides no alternative methods for determining the immigration status of a suspected illegal (other than saying “reasonable suspicion exists”).

Leaving “reasonable suspicion” to the discretion of individual police officers will result in profiling because a law that bans discrimination but doesn’t define “suspicion” is entirely unenforceable.

If a group of five dark-skinned persons are driving in Sun City, AZ in a 1989 Nissan, obeying all seat belt and traffic laws, would law enforcement be justified in pulling them over on “reasonable suspicion?” I don’t think so.
Inquiring about the status of someone because they stand in violation of some law is one thing. But a police officer has no right to stop and ask someone, who has committed no apparent crimes, for their paperwork.

If someone looks “illegal” but is abiding by every law in a given municipality, there is no reasonable way an officer can come to such a conclusion other than by making judgments based on looks.

This bill essentially requires that all immigrants carry their paperwork with them everywhere they go. Having no ID while driving is an offense. But not carrying your visa while loitering at the mall is not illegal in a free country.

“Fine,” you say, “maybe they don’t need to carry around a green card, but immigrants should be forced to bare something that allows us to know who is legal and who isn’t.” Would you prefer they wear a patch?

No one has immunity from the law, but just laws are enacted in accordance with proper constitutional principles. Citizenship issues are clearly within the purview of Congress to regulate, not the states.

Article 1, Section 8 from the Constitution reads: “The Congress shall have Power…To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” There are Constitutional protections for two classes of people: citizens, and everyone. The Constitution issues a series of “privileges and immunities” that are reserved only for U.S. citizens, but there are protections that are extended to “all persons” in the United States.

The right to privacy against unreasonable searches of persons and their papers (4th amendment) and procedural due process safeguards (14th amendment) are not only for citizens; they are for all people in the United States. But the militant opposition to this bad law has been just as stupid as the support for it.

Boycotting states that do things you dislike is pitiful. During the period under the Articles of Confederation, the colonies used to get into fights about commerce and trade routes, and they tried to economically sanction each other in order to secure economic supremacy in America. The Founders sought to stop that by leaving the regulation of commerce to the federal government. City councils who threaten to economically divest from another state is constitutionally questionable.

Something needs to be done about undocumented immigration. Republicans and Democrats deserve equal blame for not fixing this mess. Successful nations require standards and border laws are foundational to even a free society. People who have broken our fundamental laws, abused our social services and robbed our taxpayers should be punished for their actions. Undocumented immigrants who are convicted felons should be deported.

And we need to secure our borders for national security purposes. Disciplinary measures for law-breakers are vital, but must be rooted in reality and equanimity. The notion that we will knock on doors and deport fifteen million people is not American; it is Nazi.

I fear that my conservative friends are partaking of the same Kool-Aid they accuse liberals of drinking. The concept of immigration reform (or even just enforcing existing law) is great. At the same time, we can’t choose to defend only those parts of the Constitution we agree with and ignore the ones that don’t mesh with our personal politics.