Friday, May 28, 2010

Immigration Redux

For those of you who care about such thing, I am working on several Lost related posts and I should have at least one of them up at some point this weekend. But in the mean time I just wanted to return to this issue of immigration and the relative merits of Arizona's new law. Two points:

1- The argument that the Arizona law is only an attempt to clean up the mess left by the federal government is a decent argument, but I have trouble seeing how it differs from the reasoning given by many so-called progressive cities in their creation of I.D. cards and other mechanisms to bring illegals into the mainstream. In both cases you have localities dealing with the non-enforcement of federal immigration laws, albeit in very different ways and I have trouble seeing how one is a proper use of local authority in regards to immigration while the other is not.

It's important to keep in mind that the federal response to this "crises" could be, at any moment, to grant amnesty to all illegals currently in the United States and to open up the borders to all comers. Obviously, that's an extremely unlikely scenario, but that scenario or some watered down version of it, is always a possibility. The point is, solutions to the illegal immigration problem are diverse, with not-so-fringe voices arguing for polar opposite solutions. In that sort of environment are any strong state solutions really appropriate?

And 2- The defenders of this law have argued, simultaneously, that the law quite specifically does not permit racial profiling and that critics of the law are somehow removed from the everyday reality of illegal immigration in Arizona. But I'd flip both of those points around and ask supporters of the Arizona law how they think it's actually going to work. And no we're not talking about over-zealous cops who may be pulling people over for no reason. How is this law going to work when people are pulled over?

Say you have two cars full of older teenagers, one car of white teenagers, another car of Hispanic teenagers. If both cars are pulled over, who gets ID'd and who doesn't (Other than the drivers, obviously)? How are police supposed to exercise their discretion in those two situations in a manner that doesn't involve racial profiling? And if anyone, white or Hispanic, has left home and is riding around as a passenger without identification, what's the criteria for detaining that person to conduct an investigation into their immigration status?

This is why I make the point that this is an end-run national I.D. requirement. I just can't see, practically speaking, how this law could actually be enforced without the illegal and unconstitutional detention of American citizens, unless of course the police can magically detect which people without their papers are illegal and which people without their papers are not. I'm unclear on the detention aspects of the law, but without the ability to detain, the law has little effect. And as long as the law threatens the liberty of American citizens and works as an end run around federal law and the Constitution, I remain opposed to it.


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