Saturday, 8 May 2010

Arizona Immigration Law

With illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. from all directions, it's heartening to see someone, somewhere is fed up and finally going to do something about it... When Washington continues to demonstrate an inability to deal with the crisis, isn't it a state's right and duty to protect its citizens? If the federal government fails to recognize the scope of the problem, then states must take the initiative. So congratulations to Arizonans. You have a governor and Legislature with your best interests at heart.

USA Today

The 2010 Arizona Immigration Law SB1070 which was passed in April was immediately criticised by President Obama. According to an article for USA Today ‘The main point of contention in the law is the responsibility given to local police to verify immigration status if there is a "reasonable suspicion" that a person is in the country illegally’.

The fundamental reason why this law has become so controversial, quickly leading to boycotts and protests, is a fear that it will cause racial profiling, which is a more than fair concern in my opinion. It is believed that there will be targeting of Latinos, which will instil unnecessary fear for people who were born here or are legal. Colombian singer Shakira condemned the law and voiced her worry ‘about the possible effects of the law on Hispanic victims of domestic abuse. "They're going to live in fear to call the police or to report a crime that has been inflicted to them," she said’.

Having discussed the American Civil Liberties Union before Easter, I was interested to research their reactions to this law. It seemed hardly surprising that when you first look at their website the first thing you find is a link to a page entitled ‘What Happens in Arizona, Stops in Arizona’.

The articles states that ‘We believe this law, which invites racial profiling in the worst way, is unconstitutional, and we will be challenging the law with a coalition of other civil rights groups’.

Obama has ordered a review to determine whether the law is constitutional; meanwhile there are some who support the law. An article for the Las Vegas Sun was written following the visit to Las Vegas from Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, who was there to defend the law. The issue is particularly resonant in Nevada because ‘Republican Assemblyman Chad Christensen, a long-shot candidate for U.S. Senate, is drafting a ballot initiative that would replicate the Arizona law in Nevada. Immigration is also a flashpoint in the governor’s race, with former federal Judge Brian Sandoval supporting the Arizona law and Gov. Jim Gibbons opposing it’.

The law has also had an effect on Marco Rubio, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate. Originally moderate on immigration laws but has now shifted and strongly supports the immigration laws. This shift has occurred as he wants support from the Tea-Party movement. This shift shows what an important issue immigration is becoming and one that is showing to be very significant in campaigns for seats in the U.S Senate.

Whilst I fully understand concerns that this law could cause racial profiling, I also am not shocked to read that 70% of Arizonans favoured the law. As the opening quote from USA Today highlights, immigration is one of the biggest issues in America which is yet to be successfully dealt with. It seems that this law has however given the problem a new focus and perhaps it will instigate a more immediate need to try and resolve it. Harry Reid who is the democratic Senate Majority Leader has outlined a proposal to that would increase border security and give some of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants a chance to earn citizenship.

As was written in USA Today

‘Until Washington makes the tough decisions to fix the nation's intolerable, unjust and mostly ignored immigration system, bad solutions like Arizona's will just keep on filling the vacuum'.

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