A law that violates freedom

Latter-day Saints, I want you to imagine the following scenario. You are in Arizona. You are driving to the temple with several other members of the ward. You are stopped for speeding (yes, even people on the way to the temple speed sometimes). One of the members of your ward is Hispanic, speaks with an accent and has dark skin. The police come up to your car, spot the man in the backseat with dark skin, and tell him to step out of the car. He smiles in disbelief but obeys the orders from authorities. They ask him to produce his resident alien documentation. This man has lived in the country for decades but was not driving, so he didn’t bring his driver’s license. The only documentation he has is his temple recommend. The man is promptly arrested by police until he can prove he is legal.

Too far-fetched to believe in America? Actually no.

A new anti-immigration law in Arizona requires people who may be recent immigrants to carry documentation providing they are legal. Let’s stop and think about this for a second. Given the new law, what happens to the policeman who sees a Hispanic-looking person but decides it is a bit much to bug him about his documentation? That policeman is violating the law.

Is it too much to now say that all Hispanic-looking people in Arizona are now suspect of being there illegally and will be profiled, including our fellow Latter-day Saints?

I remind our readers that the Constitution was specifically written to provide individuals protection against the government. By granting to police the requirement that they must ask for documentation from people they suspect are illegal immigrants, we are giving the government new powers, powers that run exactly counter to the American project of individual freedom. This governmental power is extremely dangerous and will by necessity decrease freedom. In this case, if you have the wrong skin color and forget to carry your driver’s licenses, you may be arrested.

I understand the frustration of the people of Arizona. The drug war in Mexico has not been contained to Mexico. Illegal immigrants have indeed flooded into Arizona, although the flow is much smaller now given that the Mexican economy is growing faster than the U.S. economy.

Surely we can deal with illegal immigration without giving away our freedom?

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

74 thoughts on “A law that violates freedom

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention » A law that violates freedom The Millennial Star -- Topsy.com

  2. I’m just curious, and not wanting to pick a fight or start some philosphical discussion about this, but to those of you opposed to this law, what would you have done? What do you think Arizona should have done? I just want to know, because the end of the world scenarios are just not working for me.

  3. Joyce,

    What do you think this will achieve? I do not see how this specific action was done out of neccessity.

    Anyways, maybe Arizona’s leader could work to achieve national immigration reform. But, I do not think they are all that interested. Even, McCain in trying to firm up support on the right has backed away from the type of reform’s that President Bush advocated.

    Not sure if the people who always rail against federal immigration reform and go all out to block it can complain the the national government in not doing enough.

    As Geoff note, illegal immigration has declined significantly under the current economic conditions. This law seems to be addressing an anger which is deeper and more troubling than the realities of the immigration issue.

  4. Ever since my mission in Western Europe, I’ve looked at the pros and cons to living in the US versus Western Europe.
    Europeans focus more on education, have more culture, more affordable healthcare, better public transportation, more livable cities, less violence.
    The US has less of an obsession with sex (although that is changing), stronger freedoms of speech and religion (both exist in Europe too, but they’re more protected in the US), lower taxes, and, at least until now, you weren’t required to carry around identification with you so you could prove to the cops that you were in the country legally.

    If Arizona were truly concerned about stopping illegal immigration without being xenophobic or racist, they would focus on punishing those who hire illegal immigrants. If there’s no demand for work, the illegal immigrants will return home.
    But Arizona instead insists on creating scapegoats to blame for all its problems. This “solution” will drive up crime (no illegal immigrant will dare report a crime for fear of being arrested, so crime against illegal immigrants will skyrocket). And it turns anyone who’s not white into a suspect.

    America just got a little less great.

  5. Unfortunately, I believe that this move was very necessary for Arizona, and in fact the rest of the country, to show this current administration they are tired of the delays. Tired of the excuses. Tired of the lies. I applaud Arizona for having the courage to do this. Maybe now Obama’s crew will actually figure out that it is possible to do what the *people* want. Maybe even some *hope* and change instead of depression and change. Not holding my breath, though.

  6. I think we should all chanell our anger againt the President (LIAR!) and take it out on people with brown skin.

    No worries, Paula. The federal courts will strike this down and the you will be able to foam about them, too.

  7. The true and correct solution would be to close the border to illegal crossings, and make it like most every other international border in the world. The US’s borders with Mexico and Canada are anomolies.

    This illustrates why the Dems have fought for an effective open border with Mexico, and why the republicans have let them get away with it.

    The ultimate goal (well, aside from cheap labor which the republicans wanted, and cheap votes, that the democrats wanted) for having an open border is to effect control over citizens in the US. The first step towards that goal is to control brown skinned people. Then, in the name of fairness the solution to that apparent discrimination will be to control _all_ people, by having _everyone_ produce their ID at frequent intervals …. like shopping, turnpikes, traveling by air, etc.

    Oh, wait, we have that now, the shopper’s affinity card (the one they gave you so you could get “discounts”).

    So we’ve already got people accustomed to producing an ID number on demand, to showing ID when travelling by air (or when using the fast-pass thing on turnpikes). What’s left is to tie it in or switch it over to a national ID.

    Look at the big picture, look at where all these steps are going, and stop looking at the micro-picture or the freeze-frame of a given moment in time.

    The open-border, illegal alien mess is a bit-player in the overall scheme of government control of citizens via a national ID card.

    What’s the bible quote about not being able to buy or sell without a number ?

    Did ya hear the story about the engineers who had a few extra bytes of storage left over in an ID chip they designed, so they put the digits “666” in there just for a joke?

  8. Carrying proper ID is a basic requirement for everyone these days, even for people of no color. Just a fact of life. From time to time, I am asked by cops or other authorities to document my identity. No big deal. I simply produce the valid documentation, which I carry with me all the time.

    You have nothing to fear if you have done nothing wrong.

  9. Southern Arizona certainly has faced a lot of difficulties because of illegal immigration. The coyotes who bring groups of immigrants across the border are quite violent, and damage property, steal and have been known to murder. This is a serious problem.

    However, this legislation really doesn’t do anything to solve the problems. Arizona will still be a transit point for immigration, even with this law. Worse, those most likely to be able to report about those committing these crimes, the illegal immigrants, will be even less likely to report the crimes.

    Tim’s solution (focusing on businesses that hire illegal immigrants) is certainly one solution. Another is to tighten border security. A third solution (the most expensive, but one most likely to actually solve the underlying problem) is to build the Mexican economy (and those of other major sources of illegal immigration) so that the immigrants have no need to come.

    A fourth solution is to simply open up the border — cutting off the need to use coyotes. With a reasonable guest worker program the economic incentive to come to the U.S. will eventually disappear, and immigrants will soon learn that they can’t get any work here and leave.

    Of course, this likely means that some here in the U.S. won’t get the (usually low wage) jobs that they feel they are entitled to. Which, of course, raises the question, are they really entitled to those jobs? Does the mere fact that they were born in one place really mean that they should get a benefit that those born elsewhere don’t get? Why is this moral? or fair? or ethical? or Christlike?

    Like everyone here, I would much rather have higher wages here in the U.S. But economically, I don’t know how that can be supported. Through immigration law we are trying to limit the supply of labor to keep wage rates high and preserve jobs for those born here. But I fear that often what ends up happening is that the jobs move overseas to lower wage countries, and we end up economically poorer overall because of these laws.

    And the questionable morality that is the basis of immigration law leaves us ethically poorer as well.

  10. “The true and correct solution would be to close the border to illegal crossings, and make it like most every other international border in the world.”
    That won’t fix anything. I knew a guy on my mission in Germany who helped smuggle illegals in. I knew others who were in the country illegally. A wall and secured borders aren’t enough to keep people out. Illegal immigration is an issue in any country that has jobs for those who enter.
    Besides, many illegal immigrants enter the US legally, and then just stay after their Visas expire. No wall is going to stop them.
    All these silly “solutions.”
    As long as there’s a demand for work, people will keep coming. As soon as that demand goes away, those that don’t consider the US their home will go back home. That’s the only solution that will work in the long run. Find a way to stop the demand.
    Police-state laws, like this one in Arizona, are most likely unconstitutional, and therefore, by definition, unAmerican. It won’t last. The Constitution, and the courts, will see to that.

  11. For those who still don’t see the overall picture I’m trying to point out, the process I described is a “Hegellian Dialectic”, or “conflict of opposites.”

    When you have a plan you want to implement in a society, but don’t have the support to implement it, one way to generate support and accomplish your goal is to create a problem for which your plan is the solution. This is the “Hegellian Dialectic”.

    Government take-over of Wall Street is a good example. Government created the financial crisis by forcing banks to make home loans to people who were high risk (sub prime), and the govenment guaranteed those loans. The institutions went broke when millions of people defaulted on those loans, and the government had to make good on those guarantees. The government is blaming the institutions for the problem, not admitting that forcing banks to make sub-prime loans was the real origin. However, by blaming the mess on the banks, the government has an excuse to take them over, or at least exercise even greater control. IE, create a problem for which your plan now appears to be the solution.

    So you need to look a step or two back to see what caused the problem, and you need to look forward a step or two to see what the proposed “solution” will do.

    Whose fault is it that we have such a porous border with Mexico? (Our government, which is tasked with protecting our borders.)

    Who encouraged more even Mexicans to cross the border illegally in the 1980’s? The congress and administration under Ronald Reagan, when AMNESTY was granted to illegeals in the 1980’s. Look it up. We’ve played the amnesty game before. And what has happened with illegal immigration since the 1980’s? It has skyrocketed. Rule: if you REWARD something, you’ll get MORE of it.

    What precipitated the current financial crisis that started in 2008? The meltdown of the mortgage industry (hundreds of thousands of people defaulting on their mortgages). Who were those people who defaulted on their mortgage? Mostly, they were people who would not have qualified for mortgages, but they obtained mortgages because congress required the banks to loan to them, and at the same time, congress GUARANTEED those loans, making the banks beholden to the US government for those future bailouts.

    Then, by tieing up all those assets, the banks now had less money to loan to good borrowers and businesses. And that further exacerbated the financial crises, affecting the economy, causing even more mortgage defaults, and those hundreds of thousands turned into millions.

    As I see it, both the illegal immigration crisis and the banking crisis have been caused by our government. And what is our government now proposing as a solution to the problems it has create? More government control!

  12. Bookslinger, I think your analysis is a bit extreme. I have trouble accepting your belief that the government caused the mortgage crisis, and I have trouble believing that there was some governmental decision to make the border porous or to allow it to become porous. I’m not claiming that government is blameless, but I don’t see a conspiracy to expand government power.

    The fact is that the border with Mexico has never been patrolled very well. Neither has the border with Canada. Nor, despite claims above to the contrary, have many long borders around the world. [For example, outside of the paved border crossings, Brazil makes very little effort to control its borders with most of its neighbors.] No country in its right mind wants to spend millions or billions of dollars on manpower to make sure no one crosses illegally. The only difference with the U.S. is that there isn’t any demand to cross these borders illegally.

    The argument for amnesty isn’t about providing incentives to others to come to the U.S., its to legalize those that are here, making them part of normal society.

    I can’t see how perpetuating an illegal subclass in our country will help us, even if it by some weird coincidence manages to remove the motivation for illegal immigration.

  13. Let me try to address those who may read this who are “conservative” (ie my good friend Joyce).

    This law in Arizona is frighteningly similar to the recently passed health care monstrosity. How, you say? Let me try to convince you.

    1)Both rely on “more government” as the solution.
    2)Both rely on emotional appeals rather than reason (“we have to help the uninsured, regardless of the costs and the massive deficits we are running up”; “we have to do SOMETHING about illegal immigration.”)
    3)Both do not take into account the realities of the marketplace and the forces of supply and demand that will always affect how commerce takes place and why people move from one place to another.

    What is the source of our current illegal immigration problem? Simple supply and demand. Mexico has traditionally been poorer than the United States. The same job on one side of the border pays one-fifth the salary on the other side of the border. Thus, people are willing to take risks (crossing the border) because the reward is high (a much higher-paying job).

    People are up in arms today about the drug war in Mexico and see it as a sign that Mexico is in chaos. Actually, again, the explanation is simple supply and demand. Mexico is a drug transit point because of the demand for drugs in the United States. The source of the problem is not Mexico, but the United States. If we did not have such a high demand for drugs, the cartels would not exist in Mexico. And it is worth pointing out that the administration of Felipe Calderon is doing more to fight the drug cartels than any past Mexican government. That is why you hear about so many shoot-outs between the cartels and police — the police are actually doing something rather than standing by and letting the cartels operate in a completely lawless environment.

    Supply and demand is also creating a situation where fewer illegal immigrants are coming to the United States now than they did in, say, 2006, when the economy was booming. The Mexican economy is actually growing, and there are more jobs, so more people are staying home.

    There is another important factor to consider: birth rates. Mexico is right on the cusp of its population stabilizing because it is getting wealthier and people are having smaller families. What does this mean? Smaller Mexican families — and the continued growth of the Mexican economy — will mean a much lower incentive for people to cross the borders.

    So, if we look at this rationally, the people of Arizona are getting all worked up (“we have to do SOMETHING about immigration”) for no reason. Illegal immigration is already decreasing. WE (the United States) are the cause of the drug problem, NOT Mexico. Birth rate trends show that illegal immigration will become less of a problem in the years ahead.

    This law in Arizona causes more problems (more government and less freedom) than it solves. Let’s concentrate on solutions that solve problems.

  14. I find it interesting that “70% of likely voters in Arizona approve of the legislation, while just 23% oppose it,” in spite of the fact that “53% of voters in the state are concerned that efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants also will end up violating the civil rights of some U.S. citizens” (source).

    I suspect Geoff is correct that emotions got out of hand.

  15. @Chris 8:10am Im not sure what this law will achieve. I’m trying to look at all the sides, but as I no longer live in Arizona what I think does not matter.

    However, I will say this, having grown up in Arizona I understand the frustration and I understand the desire to feel safe in one’s own community. My parents live less than a mile from one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Mesa, AZ — because of the high illegal popultaion, which is a sancuary city, and have felt unsafe going out and about for years now.

    I think they should be going after employers first — which if I remember AZ does have a law to this effect, but I see nothing wrong with asking someone to verify who they are if something is suspicious. I acutally think law enforcement officers are honorable people who will not abuse the law. And in the end if Pres Obama is so offended by this law, he should have responded to Gov Brewer’s FIVE requests for help. After all border security, immigration isses are a Federal matter.

    So Geoff, I’ll disagree with you on this, I think this is acutally one of the functions of govt and one of the times govt is supposed to be in our lives.

  16. Joyce,

    As a Mexican, I find this comment outrageously offensive:

    “I understand the desire to feel safe in one’s own community. My parents live less than a mile from one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Mesa, AZ — because of the high illegal popultaion, which is a sancuary city, and have felt unsafe going out and about for years now.”

    What is it, exactly, about the “illegal population” that makes you and your parents fearful?

  17. I attend church with several illegal immigrants. Some of the missionaries that serve in my ward are illegal immigrants.
    I live a mile or two from some very dangerous neighborhoods. Neighborhoods you don’t go into even during the day. I take classes at the university, and won’t go there at night because of the number of robberies that occur in that neighborhood.
    And yet, strangely, none of the people that make these areas dangerous are illegal immigrants. Heck, none of them are immigrants. They’re all American citizens.
    I find the vast majority of immigrants, and the vast majority of illegal immigrants, to be good people with good hearts.

  18. This law is necessary because of the failures of the federal government to secure our borders against illegal activities, including illegal immigration. The scenario at the top of this post is farfetched for several reasons. First, a temple recommend for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, while not a “legal” proof of citizenship, would be confirmation of the person’s story that they are simply going with the group to the Temple for religious service. It is also “proof” that at least two church leaders vouch for the honesty and integrity of that individual. Add to that the church dress and a helping of the Holy Spirit and no officer would take the action described.

    Second, the officer must have reasonable grounds for acting, and the Governor has specifically stated that simply having “dark skin” isn’t enough to trigger enforcement. Finally, in many places a picture ID is required to vote, buy even some over-the-counter medications, and to pay with a check or credit/debit card. Add in the nature of a Latter Day Saint to be prepared and the likelihood of the gentleman not carrying some form of ID is remote.

    If you want to talk about liberty-curbing provisions, focus on the real source of the problem, the Obama Administration and Democrat Congressional leadership in Washington, D.C.

  19. nannmeroo,
    In reply to your first paragraph, an LDS missionary who had previously served in my ward was targeted by ICE–while still and LDS missionary–and deported.
    By all accounts he was on honorable missionary.
    So you’ll understand if I don’t buy the “no officer would take the action described” stuff.
    They already have.
    This just means that the state government of Arizona is taking federal matters into their own hands.
    ICE has targeted LDS missionaries. Will Arizona police target LDS Spanish-speaking branches and wards?

  20. Nannmeroo, we cannot base our suppositions about what the law will do by the “best-case scenario.” We need to be realistic about what the law says and prepare for how the police will act based on what will happen to them if they don’t follow the law. The law says that if police have suspicions that a person is illegal they are required to ask for documentation, and if that person doesn’t have documentation they may be arrested. My scenario above is not at all unreasonable.

  21. Nanmeroo,

    Laws that restrict the state’s power, like the Fourth Amendment, exist precisely because foresight requires thinking of the worst case scenario. You can’t simply trust the discretion of state officials, and “a helping of the Holy Spirit” for effective administration of the law. That’s just absurd.

  22. “What is it, exactly, about the “illegal population” that makes you and your parents fearful?”

    We mus’nt deceive ourselves. Illegal aliens are generally less affluent than your average citizen. When the population in a given area has a relatively high percentage of illegal aliens it probably means that there will be greater poverty in that area than most other areas were there are fewer illegal aliens. And where there is more poverty there tends to be more violent crime.

    The problem is economic in nature. It’s not about race; not about culture or nationality.

  23. I just want to say brilliant post Geoff and comment Bookslinger. I think this law will most likely be overturned at some point. Hispanics are not the only illegals in this country. There are illegal Asians, Africans and even Anglos. There are cases of Anglos here on a VISA, who just stay way after there VISA is up. THere are plenty of HIspanics who have been in this country longer than the whites. What about Native Americans? They often get mistaken for Hispanics and get harassed by whites in charge. Heck, Anglos are illegal to them 🙂 If we require Hispanics to carry ID at all times, soon we will all be required to carry it. This is just another excuse for the government to get control of us. IS this a long term plot? I doubt it, but the result is the same; more government control in our lives.

    Remember this poem?

    “THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

    THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    THEN THEY CAME for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

    by Martin Niemöller

    Geoff is right. THe illegal and drug problems in this country is our fault. We have made becoming a legal citizen to be very difficult, and to be illegal easy. Can we blame them for taking advantage of opportunities? If you had the chance to vastly improve your life and your children’s life would you not do it, I sure would.

  24. You’re one to talk. I could see southern states taking it upon themselves to pass laws like these to try to deport the “Yankees” that they – and you – have so much contempt for.

  25. John, this post is not about yankees :).

    What you “could see the southern states doing” is a great big IF and ya’ll know what they say in the South, “IF a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his ass when he jumped”. Real civil rights abuses are happening in Arizona, not hypotheticals.

  26. Bookslinger, Since we’re the only ones who seem to remember the previous attempt at immigration reform, remember that after leagalizing all those in the US illegally, we were promised that there would be stronger boarders and more stringent enforcement of existing laws. Guess which part Congress forgot to do?

    Finish what we were promised in the 80’s, then we’ll talk about current reform.

  27. Mexicans have been living in Arizona for centuries before Arizona was part of the United States. A person whose family has lived in Arizona longer than Arizona was a state could be arrested and threatened to be deported to Mexico, when it was the US who took Arizona out of Mexico in the first place.

  28. “So Geoff, I’ll disagree with you on this, I think this is acutally one of the functions of govt and one of the times govt is supposed to be in our lives.”

    More government is bad except when it’s good?

    “First, a temple recommend for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, while not a “legal” proof of citizenship, would be confirmation of the person’s story that they are simply going with the group to the Temple for religious service.”

    Haha, no. A police officer stopping the car won’t care if they’re on their way to a religious service, they’d care whether the person was an illegal or not.

    “Second, the officer must have reasonable grounds for acting, and the Governor has specifically stated that simply having “dark skin” isn’t enough to trigger enforcement.”
    Of COURSE he’s stated that. You really think he’s going to come out and say “Our officers will be focusing on the real problem, the non-whites”?

    Like so much legislation dealing with illegals, homosexuals and travel this is driven by fear. “Second, the officer must have reasonable grounds for acting, and the Governor has specifically stated that simply having “dark skin” isn’t enough to trigger enforcement.” -James Faust

  29. Oops, that President Faust quote of course should be “terror perpetrated in this new millennium has been skillfully designed to frighten us, but fear need not control us. “

  30. I would add this distinction (to those offered by Geoof) between health care reform and the immigration issue: With respect to health care, a complaint I often hear is that the legislation takes from those who work to give to those who don’t.

    With immigration, the complaint is not that undocumented people are “taking” compensation for doing nothing. No one argues that such workers are being overpaid, or that the exchange of work for pay is unfair to the recipient. There is no forced redistribution of income from the those who have earned wealth to those who have not.

    Rather, the claim is that the worker should not be entitled to offer his or her work in exchange for compensation because of the place of his or her birth.

    And I suppose that is why many fiscal conservatives, like Geoff, and like the Wall Street Journal (hardly a lacky for the left wing) favor allowing the operation of the markets for the exchange of labor for compensation. It benefits not only the worker, but the recipient. Harsh and restrictive immigration laws significantly impede the operation of the free market, to the detriment of society on both sides of the borders.

  31. David H, good point. I will add that I believe will all the fiber of my being that the continued prosperity of the United States depends on immigration. Immigrants bring new skills, new abilities, new drive, new ideas and new capital to the United States. The times of greatest immigration restrictions (ie, the Depression) have also been accompanied by economic stagnation.

    As one last point, I would say that the Lord’s Gospel knows no borders. We are supposed to take the Gospel to all people. The United States serves as a training ground for many people who come here and then take the Church back to their lands. Restrictions on immigration may in fact impede the growth of the Gospel.

  32. How about some Arizonians citing statistics, such as the cost to the state of illegals’ medical expense, welfare expense, education expense versus the tax revenue they create? How about relative crime rates? Let’s base our discussion on facts rather than conjecture.

    For example, in North Carolina, the DUI-caused fatalities resulting from from illegals is four times higher (per driver) than for the remainder of the population.

  33. R Biddulph, across the board, and especially in states with high percentages of immigrants, crime rates are significantly lower among immigrants–including both legal and illegal groups–than they are among the native born citizen population. I mentioned this way up in question 27, but you apparently ignored that.

  34. Also, studies in the last decade have repeatedly emphasized that illegal immigrants do not place a disproportionate burden on health care costs in America. They are, on average, younger and healthier than the population at large in the U.S.

    Roughly 1/2 to 3/4 of illegal immigrants pay federal, state, and local taxes. They pay over $5 billion a year into social security. Their net cost of the illegal immigrant population on the American taxpayers in quite modest, in fact. Of course, if we provided these individuals a clear path to citizenship, then their contribution to taxes on all levels would rapidly increase and their net cost to taxpayers would vanish–because, you know, they would be full taxpayers.

  35. It seems clear to me that this will ultimately result in all people in Arizona needing to carry documents with them at all times proving their legal citizenship. This is because although the immediate impact will be that all people of hispanic or latino ethnic descent will need to have their residency status documentation with them at all times, Arizona police officers will need to make it seem like they are applying this in a way that does not discriminate based on ethnicity or national origin given our society’s commitment to avoid discrimination on that basis. Therefore, they will need to act as if they care as much about illegal immigrants from Europe, Scandinavia, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, the Far East and Canada as they do about illegal immigrants from Mexico, Central America and South America. This will mean that you can be as blond and blue-eyed as a descendant of the first Scandinavian Mormon pioneers/settlers sent by Brigham Young to establish Mormon colonies in the scorched and cracked territories that are now Arizona and you will still be fair game for producing your “papers” while walking from your car to your office or leaving the supermarket with your five blond, blue-eyed kids in tow.

    I am surprised that some do not seem to agree that having to carry your “papers” with you at all times and produce them at the demand of a police officer is truly a defining characteristic of an authoritarian regime. This would have been par for the course in the Soviet Union and, in fact, when I personally think about the Sovieet Union, one of the characteristics I think about is this issue about having to have your “papers” with you and produce them on demand or face potentially awful consequences.

  36. Here is a link to a local Arizona blog with some information on SB 1070 and some of the misinformation about the bill: http://www.espressopundit.com/ (Note: There are several recent posts on SB 1070)

    I’m still doing my homework on the bill, but from what I have read, it mirrors the Federal immigration law in USC Title 8.

  37. The problem doesn’t lie with Arizona, but with the feds. THEY are supposed to manage illegal immigration, not the states. Since they have failed to build a fence, establish good immigration laws, etc., Arizona has felt pressured to do something about it.
    They have a war going on at the border. Do we really want to have the events on Mexico’s side traverse the border to our side? I don’t think so. I agree that there are difficult issues involved in their new law, but at least they are attempting to do something. Perhaps the idea is to force the Feds hand?

    There are common sense things that can be done to secure our borders, provide a tough but legal way for the illegals currently here to obtain legal residency, etc. The issue is, we have spent the last several decades hacking at the branches, instead of chopping at the root of the problem. Personally, we have enough gang related problems in our country to now allow the more ruthless Hispanic gangs to enter our country. We don’t need the wars that are killing judges and cops down there.

    So, how do we balance freedom and security?

    In the past, America has militarily invaded Mexico at least twice because it couldn’t maintain its own border. Would that be a better solution?

  38. Geoff, you and I have sparred on this matter many, many times in the past. To be clear, I believe Arizona’s new law is indeed unconstitutional and will be overturned somehow in short order. I agree that it has more of its roots in emotion than logic. I don’t believe it will hinder the illegal drug pipeline. Now to where we disagree. I’ll take a few statements you’ve made in this thread and respond to them specifically:

    “1)Both rely on “more government” as the solution.”

    Yeah, but comparing this to Obamacare is apples and oranges because it’s two kinds of government. You, of all people, should be aware of the conservative idea that the best government is the one closest to the individual. That’s why we don’t equate socialist policy on the national level with things like municipal water management and garbage collection, and why we’re always arguing for states’ rights. Growth of state government is different than growth of federal government– we needn’t quibble about that.

    “2)Both rely on emotional appeals rather than reason”

    As I said above, I agree. But don’t discount the emotional EFFECT of the law on the other end. Keep in mind that I don’t think this will solve the most pressing problems, it is already having an emotional effect on illegal immigrants. I haven’t researched this in depth, but reading the local news and hearing word on the street here in the illegal immigrant hub of SLC, illegals are looking to leave AZ now, and the inflow from Mexico (non-cartel streams) is now actively routing itself around AZ. They can’t rid the U.S. of the problem (or percieved problems) caused by illegal immigration, but they have begun to divert it away from AZ. The question now becomes how much of a problem is straight illegal immigration and how interdependent (if at all) it is with the gang/criminal/drug operations). If stopping the flow even reduces these other problems, stopping the flow is something worth considering. AZ, while acting unconstitutionally, may just be the experiment that will give us real answers.

  39. “3)Both do not take into account the realities of the marketplace and the forces of supply and demand that will always affect how commerce takes place and why people move from one place to another.”

    Demand will always be here. We can mitigate it, but we cannot eliminate it until Mexico becomes a better place to live than America. What we can do is reduce the incentive. Don’t shut illegals out (we can’t ship them back and we can’t let them starve), but don’t invite them in either. Any “comprehensive” immigration reform serious about solving problems would 1) make it easier to immigrate legally, 2) make it miserable (not inhumane) to be here illegally. Part of the solution is emotion: is it really worth it for me to be here illegally? As long as it’s worth it, they’ll come. Make it not worth it.

    “Immigrants bring new skills, new abilities, new drive, new ideas and new capital to the United States.”

    I’ll give you that, but this isn’t the 1800’s. I think the U.S. is in a great position to be able to pick and choose who comes. Make legal immigration much easier, but make it even easier for those who posess a useful skill, speak English, know and appreciate American history, and who are good citizens of their country of origin.

    I live in Illegal Immigrant Central, and I can tell you that these people aren’t bringing new skills, ability, or capital. They bring cheap labor, crowded emergency rooms, blighted neighborhoods, and Democrat votes. If there’s a silver lining at all, most have an excellent work ethic, are Christian-minded, and have good family values. But you can’t argue that they’re our key to innovation and economic boom.

  40. Brian. The state law does not follow the federal law, although it refers to it. Among other things, the state law makes it a state “trespass” crime to be in Arizona without proper immigrations status. Under federal law, simply being in the U.S. without proper authorization is not a crime.

  41. Tossman, good comments.

    In general, I favor as little interaction with government as possible. Just one small example: I bought a basketball hoop and had to call a government agency responsible for “digging” before installing it in the ground even though I was sure there was no electrical, water, gas, etc in the area it was going to be installed. All of these governmental regulations get in the way of people using common sense.

    I would be extremely upset if I were targeted because of my ethnicity. I refuse to answer the ethnicity question on my Census form for that very reason. Sanctioning the government to do this is just wrong on so many levels.

    Immigration is not interrelated with the drug trade on any significant level. The vast majority of immigrants are hard-working honest people who simply want a job.

    Regarding the supply and demand issue, it is worth noting that salaries on both sides of the border are becoming more comparable, especially for professionals. As the Mexican economy continues to grow, this will continue to be the case. I truly believe that if you study demographic trends and salary trends the illegal immigration problem from Mexico will not exist in 20 years. The border will come to look much more like the Canadian border. We are all freaking out about a problem that will resolve itself over time.

  42. DavidH:

    Under federal law, simply being in the U.S. without proper authorization is not a crime.

    Read 8 U.S.C. § 1325 and then get back to me.

  43. Geoff,

    “I truly believe that if you study demographic trends and salary trends the illegal immigration problem from Mexico will not exist in 20 years.”

    For better or worse, and barring any serious policy shift, in 20 years the American southwest will essentially be Mexico.

    Salt Lake City is facing some serious problems with drug gangs composed entirely of illegals. They enjoy at least the tacit support of the larger, non-gang/drug, illegal community.

    To pick just one example, An illegal Mexican drug dealer recently killed a female police deputy in one of our southern towns. Finding and arresting the man was a grueling task mostly because he was being protected by the non-drug/gang Mexican community in Salt Lake. Not only was that community less than cooperative, the guy’s family had the nerve to pitch a fit about the police damaging their home during the siege. Those details were reported, though in a suppressed manner, by local news agencies, who treat the illegal community with kid gloves. Only when the shooter and his accomplice left the Salt Lake area were police able to track them down.

    Yes, American druggies are to blame for the role this guy filled. But had he been prevented from coming here, Josie Fox would be alive today. Had he been here, but didn’t enjoy the sympathies of a mixed legal/illegal community, the manhunt wouldn’t have taken so long and cost so much.

    No, the greater illegal community isn’t inseparably connected with their drug and gang subset, but the two groups are also not mutually exclusive.

  44. Brian, 8 U.S.C. § 1325 relates to entry, not simply being here. One can enter the U.S. legally–say by visa, and overstay the visa. That is not a criminal offense. Similarly, an infant brought here cannot violate 8 U.S.C. § 1325 because infants cannot have mens rea to violate a criminal statute. If the infant grows into an adult, without ever crossing the border, his or her staying here is unauthorized, but not criminal, because there is no violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1325. By way of contrast, as I understand the new AZ law (I may be wrong), simply being here (as distinct from crossing the border) without proper authorization is criminal trespass. Perhaps I misread section 3 of the new Act. How do you read section 3?

  45. I think the hypo is way over the top and leaves out some important facts. Let’s start with the law.

    First, the cops must have a reasonable suspicion for the stop to begin with, OTHER THAN immigration status. Sure, there may be cops that will conjure up something to make the stop but the police I know are generally far too busy to create issues. An improper stop will be subject to a 42 USC 1983 claim — just as it is now for any other violation of one’s civil rights. The basic premise of the hypo is that NOTHING should be done about illegal immigration if it might, remotely, ever, impinge, ever so slightly on one’s civil rights. Using that as a premise, no enforcement provision for immigration or any other aspect of law enforcement could ever be implemented.

    Second, if I understand the law, ANY government issued ID solves the matter on the spot. You get stopped, you show an AZ driver’s license and you’re on your way; end of story. By the way, take immigration out of the equation and make all the passengers lily-white: if the driver is stopped by a cop for speeding, what is the first thing the cop will ALWAYS do, regardless of race: driver’s license, registration, insurance. Nothing new here. What will the cop do if he has a reasonable suspicion about a crime regarding any of the passengers: out of the car and show some ID. Nothing new about that either. Showing a driver’s license or other government ID is a normal incident of life and a nuisance at worst.

    Racial profiling? To an extent – of course. The problems in Arizona have very very little to with Canadians or Norwegians (bet the number of either group overstaying their visa and living in Arizona can be counted on one hand). And while Asians, particularly, Chinese, Filipinos and Indians form a significant part of the illegal population in the US as a whole, I suspect it is an almost inconsequential group in Arizona. But I gather the obvious ought to be ignored.

    Two other points. My daughter-in-law is Argentine, now has permanent residency status and soon will apply for citizenship. She (and we) had to jump through a lot of hoops and incur a lot of expense to get her here legally. One of the conditions: she has to have her immigration papers (her “green” card) with her whenever she goes out or she could be detained. She of course complies with the law. She has a driver’s license that would preclude detention under the AZ law. And, finally, did anyone notice: 100% of those entering the country have committed a crime. Apparently that should simply be ignored.

    My solution: MUCH higher quotas for LEGAL immigration (we need these people). With the exception of people temporarily in the country for vacations or specialty work permits (performing artists, professional athletes etc), everyone else gets a visa which requires the person to commit to becoming a citizen within a specific period of time with benchmarks along the way. If you aren’t headin’ for citizenship, you’re headin’ back home as far as I’m concerned.

    I’m perfectly happy to have lots — indeed, millions — of new immigrants and race and ethnicity isn’t a concern. That these people become “Americanized” and imbued with, accept and respect American values and become citizens loyal to this nation are all that really matter to me.

  46. Dave, thanks for your reasoned response. I would agree with you that the solution is MUCH higher legal immigration. We need immigrants. Unfortunately, most proponents of this law don’t agree with you and are not leading the charge to increase immigration quotas. If they were, perhaps we would have had immigration reform approved during Bush’s presidency.

    One last point, immigration decreases crime, not increases it:


  47. And, finally, did anyone notice: 100% of those entering the country have committed a crime. Apparently that should simply be ignored.

    No, they did not. Many of them entered the country legally and then overstayed their visa. And for those who did enter without any documentation to speak of, they violated/are violating a civil code, and did not commit a crime–they are not criminals anymore than I am a criminal for the parking ticket I received yesterday.

    And while I agree with you that significantly higher quotas for immigration will go a long way in solving the problem, I do wonder about your demand that these people become “Americanized.” Historically speaking, it is difficult to separate “Americanization” from race and ethnicity. What do you have in mind?

  48. Geoff, let me explain where people like you and I differ. I think I understand where you’re coming from, but I’m not sure (especially because of your last sentence there) that you comprehend the viewpoint of conservatives who disagree with you.

    You’ve assumed, irresponsibly, that since Arizonans don’t seem to be as passionate about promoting legal immigration as they are about stopping illegal immigration, that they are anti immigration in general. I don’t think any significant number of conservatives disagree that we need immigrants.

    But here’s the rub: Right or wrong, they see immigration and illegal immigration as completely separate issues. This is important to understand. Priority number one: stop illegal immigration, then deal with proper immigration.

    This analogy isn’t perfect, but bear with me: The arm is hemorrhaging. Apply a tourniquet to stop the hemorrhage. Fresh blood to the fingers becomes secondary- worry about that once the bleeding is controlled.

    That may seem simplistic to you, but that’s the train of thought. We in AZ, NM, CA, NV, and UT are on the front lines here, and unfortunately the failure of the federal government to act has made us reluctant first responders. So don’t get too wound up when you don’t see Rancher Joe in southern AZ “leading the charge” for increased legal immigration quotas. He’s got bigger fish to fry.

    You camp seems to view illegal immigration as a SUBSET OF immigration as a whole. On paper, you’ve got a point. But your formula fails to take a number of real world issues into consideration. That’s somewhat understandable given that conversation is facilitated by a media that favors you view and who mutes the debate political correctness and taints it with knee-jerk cries of racism. More happens on the front lines than ever makes it into the theory papers or the media.

    Your perspective leads to your last point, which to me is a strawman (it may not be to you, but this very point is what’s stifling the debate).

    I don’t know ANYBODY that claims IMMIGRATION increases crime. I do, however, know many, many people who claim that ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION leads to increased crime.

  49. Tossman, no, I get the argument. I read all of the conservative press every day. Believe me, I get it. Here’s the issue: conservatives call for “closing the border” first. Well, the border will never be closed, no matter what we do, so that argument is a farce that always postpones another solution.

    The only way you could conceivably close the border would be an East German-style police state with dogs and cops every 50 feet. The cost of something like that is ridiculous — billions upon billions of dollars per year. Yes, we could do more to put up walls, etc, but as my conservatives Texas friends say, you can always find a bigger ladder. Or a way to tunnel around.

    So, it’s a false argument because it ignores the realities of supply and demand, as I say way up on the top. Castro has spent decades and devoted a huge percentage of his resources to preventing smuggling into Cuba, which is a police state island. Still, contraband products are brought into the country and are available. Where there is a demand, there will always be supply. That’s just a rule of life.

    So, if we KNOW the border will NEVER be secure, then the argument “secure the border first” will always be a false argument and an excuse for opposing amnesty, which is exactly what happened in 2006-2007.

    There is another way of changing the supply-demand dynamic and securing the border: allowing a huge increase in legal immigration. I am not sure if you know how difficult it is for your average Mexican to get a visa. Even a middle-class guy with a house and a wife and kids cannot get a visa in most cases. So, the incentive to cross illegally is huge. However, if you gave Mexico the number of visas that corresponded to demand, say 5-10 million per year, then illegal immigration would dry up. Why pay a coyote $5000 when you can go to the local consulate and get a visa for $100? Even if you raised the visa fee to $1000 to cover additional costs, you would still get more legal immigration than illegal.

    So, if conservatives truly favored legal immigration, they would be proposing that the number of visas correspond to the number of people who want to come legally and push through such a proposal. And they don’t do that, so they are not being honest about what they truly want.

    And before you argue, “EVERYBODY would want to come,” that is simply not true and ignores the source of the problem. The real problem is Mexican and Central American immigration. The Chinese economy is growing at 10 percent a year — I have spent a lot of time in Asia and the demand among Chinese to come to the U.S. is much lower than most people think. Let’s concentrate on the real problem — ie Mexico and Central America — and allow a huge increase in work, student and tourist visas — and see what happens. I predict illegal immigration would become an insignificant trickle if we did this.

  50. Geoff, I’m with you (for the most part) on your solution. Perhaps I didn’t make my point well. Note that I advocate stopping illegal immigration (I also mentioned “controlling” it). I did not say “close the border” and I do not advocate an East German police state. I said stop or control illegal immigration. Re-read my previous comments in this thread. A combination of simplifying legal immigration channels and de-incentivising illegal immigration is the best way to discourage it. You are oversimplifying the opposing argument at almost point and I can’t understand why. You just spent 4 paragraphs refuting a claim I did not make.

  51. “So, if conservatives truly favored legal immigration, they would be proposing that the number of visas correspond to the number of people who want to come legally and push through such a proposal.”

    And there is no evidence proving they wouldn’t do that. But again, separate issues. A first, B second. You cannot expect every conservative to automatically agree with your train of thought. And if they disagree, you’re disingenuous to accuse them of being dishonest.

    To be honest, I think the issues are exclusive enough for most conservatives that the notion of increased quotas hasn’t crossed their minds. Should it cross their minds? Yes. But if this is what you’re preaching, you’ll fail miserably with the approach you’re taking.

  52. Geoff, this common argument that it’s impossible to completely eliminate unauthorized border crossings is very unhelpful. The current arrangement is keeping out most of those who would wish to enter improperly. Many would like it to do better, to keep out, say, 85% of those who are currently getting through. A perfect, impenetrable system is not needed, so knock it off with the idea that those who would like some improvement want to build an evil Berlin wall.

  53. “And before you argue, “EVERYBODY would want to come,’ that is simply not true and ignores the source of the problem. The real problem is Mexican and Central American immigration. The Chinese economy is growing at 10 percent a year — I have spent a lot of time in Asia and the demand among Chinese to come to the U.S. is much lower than most people think.”

    Geoff, you know that most of China’s billion are rural peasants living on a dollar a day and are prohibited from internal migration to China’s booming metropoli. You’ve said before that my fear of 100% open borders is a strawman, but you seem pretty close to that position.

  54. Dave,

    The Arizona statute does not require that the police stop be for other reasons that “reasonable cause” to believe a person is undocumented. It does require that the stop be lawful, but the statute may be interpreted to mean that suspicion of undocumented status is enough to make a stop.

  55. — The Mexican government will bar foreigners if they upset “the equilibrium of the national demographics.” How’s that for racial and ethnic profiling?

    — If outsiders do not enhance the country’s “economic or national interests” or are “not found to be physically or mentally healthy,” they are not welcome. Neither are those who show “contempt against national sovereignty or security.” They must not be economic burdens on society and must have clean criminal histories. Those seeking to obtain Mexican citizenship must show a birth certificate, provide a bank statement proving economic independence, pass an exam and prove they can provide their own health care.

    — Illegal entry into the country is equivalent to a felony punishable by two years’ imprisonment. Document fraud is subject to fine and imprisonment; so is alien marriage fraud. Evading deportation is a serious crime; illegal re-entry after deportation is punishable by ten years’ imprisonment. Foreigners may be kicked out of the country without due process and the endless bites at the litigation apple that illegal aliens are afforded in our country (see, for example, President Obama’s illegal alien aunt — a fugitive from deportation for eight years who is awaiting a second decision on her previously rejected asylum claim).

    — Law enforcement officials at all levels — by national mandate — must cooperate to enforce immigration laws, including illegal alien arrests and deportations. The Mexican military is also required to assist in immigration enforcement operations. Native-born Mexicans are empowered to make citizens’ arrests of illegal aliens and turn them in to authorities.

    — Ready to show your papers? Mexico’s National Catalog of Foreigners tracks all outside tourists and foreign nationals. A National Population Registry tracks and verifies the identity of every member of the population, who must carry a citizens’ identity card. Visitors who do not possess proper documents and identification are subject to arrest as illegal aliens.

    All of these provisions are enshrined in Mexico’s Ley General de Población (General Law of the Population) and were spotlighted in a 2006 research paper published by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy. There’s been no public clamor for “comprehensive immigration reform” in Mexico, however, because pro-illegal alien speech by outsiders is prohibited.

  56. Wow, Michelle Malkin is reading our blog! We have made the big-time.

    John M, if your number 12 (actually, 62, but who’s counting) is true, then why did AZ even pass this horrendous bill? If “most” are being blocked, what’s the problem?

  57. Geoff, I don’t think it’s too complicated. The insulation on a house may be keeping out most of the summer BTUs that would be passing through walls otherwise, but the house may still be warming up more than the owner likes. So he adds more insulation to suit his tastes. It doesn’t mean that he has too seal his property in a multi-million dollar giant Thermos bottle so that not a single unwanted Joule can enter or that his existing insulation is doing nothing.

  58. Showing an ID to an employer is hardly the same as being stopped while out for a run and being forced to show an ID just for being in the country…
    Although I think any approach to immigration needs to be comprehensive, and include ways to let those in the country illegally become (over time) legal workers and eventually citizens.

  59. Tim, unless the runner in your example is breaking a law, nobody’s going to stop him and force him to show ID. We can’t debate this until all sides cease basing their viewpoints on falsehoods.

  60. Dave said:

    “First, the cops must have a reasonable suspicion for the stop to begin with, OTHER THAN immigration status.”

    That’s absolutely incorrect.

    “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement officer . . . where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made . . . to determine the immigration status of the person.”


    The cops do not need to “have a reasonable suspicion for the stop to begin with,” it can be “any lawful contact,” which includes as little as a casual conversation on the street.

  61. There is a friendly amendment in progress in Arizona that will limit such investigations to situations where the police officer knows or suspects some other law is being violated. I believe that Gov. Brewer intends to sign it (I don’t know why she wouldn’t), but I am looking for confirmation on that point.

Comments are closed.