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The Arizona immigration law

Ben Boychuk and I debate the issue in our Scripps Howard column this week. My take:

When immigration is outlawed, only outlaws will be immigrants.

That's the real problem in Arizona. There's obviously a great demand for the services of immigrant workers, or the supply wouldn't keep pouring over U.S. borders. If America would allow more legal immigration -- and more guest worker visas -- more of those workers could come in through the country's front door instead of over the back fence. There would be less need for the coyotes and traffickers who bring them into the country, and less opportunity for American employers to exploit their legal, documented employees.

Many of the ills we associate with illegal immigration would be reduced if only we had a sane immigration policy.

But that's Washington's job to solve. It's not doing that job. So you can't blame Arizonans for wanting to do everything in their power to fix their own problems. You can, however, blame them for the approach they've decided to take.

Sure, Americans are asked every day to produce identification. But we don't ask only Hispanic residents to provide their ID when boarding a plane, buying booze, applying for a job or for government benefits. Police enforcing the new law will surely single out Latinos -- legal or not, born here or not -- for such treatment. It's a demeaning, hostile act that will alienate and intimidate many Latino citizens, folks as American as you or I. It's treatment that the white majority would never stand for, but is willing to inflict on others.

Yes, America's immigration policy is a mess. Trying to fix its ills with a bad law will only make things worse. Doing so in a racially divisive and demeaning manner is unconscionable. The Republican Party that passed this law will pay the price as Hispanics become a larger part of the electorate. And Arizona will have to live with the self-inflicted smear on the state's good name.

Ben's got a cautious defense of the law. Read the whole thing!


namefromthepast said…

My understanding is that AZ isn't outlawing immigration. I "get" the comment.

I agree with you on a couple of points, it is the Feds job to secure the border, and the immigration policy is a mess.

Whether or not a person agrees with this legislation it does do a great job of calling attention to a huge problem that the feds have virtually ignored for decades.

To me this is a classic struggle between rule of law vs rule of man.

What is striking to me is that critics here don't have either on their side. Lopsided majorities in AZ support the law, and it IS illegal to be in the US...illegally.

Maybe AZ and the US should just make it simple and have the same enforcment and policy as Mexico does?

My understanding is that law enforcment can only check the status of citizenship when stopped in normal contact or other such verbage. I say check everybody "in contact" with law enforcement and then no profiling?

Does this strike anyone as a security issue? How can the US claim to be a sovereign nation without secure borders? How can anyone, regardless of affiliation, believe we have a handle on terrorism when our southern border is this leaky?

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