Our Voice: Illegal Immigrants And Arizona’s Controversial Immigration Law

Someone asked me this morning why it wouldn’t be a good thing to deport all of the illegal immigrants back to wherever they belong… and it struck me that this individual was probably referring to the recent decision on the controversial Arizona state immigration law.  I told this good hearted soul that in theory removing illegal immigrants isn’t a bad thing at all, what makes the Arizona Law so controversial, amongst other arguments, are two critical things:

First, in what manner does the law choose to pursue the identification of illegal immigrants? Second, what about the power to establish a consistent immigration policy specifically granted to the Federal Government in the U.S. Constitution?

Just yesterday, Arizona Federal Judge Susan Bolton decided to block the looming activation of some key components of Arizona’s proposed new anti-immigration legislation.

The provisions blocked include:

  • Provisions which would require Arizona law enforcement to investigate the immigration status of all individuals they stop if the officers simply suspect that they are illegally in the United States;
  • Mandatory detention of individuals stopped, even for minor offenses, which would usually result in a ticket, if they cannot verify on the spot that they aren’t in the United States illegally;
  • Provisions for arrest without any warrant of anyone deemed by police to be illegal.  Other parts of the law will go into force as determined by the Arizona State Legislature.

I explained this to my good friend, whom I know has a good heart and ethical soul, and yet he seemed unconvinced… His response was, so what’s the problem?  I couldn’t believe it, I looked at him and asked, so its ok for police to stop someone because they “look” like they might be illegal?  What about American citizens of Hispanic or Latino descent? Legal resident aliens? How about tourists from other countries? Why should they have their rights violated?  The new law would demand that they have their identification on them at all times or face mandatory incarceration… not the simple ticket for driving without your license, for example… My dear good hearted friend looked confused for a second, and then responded… You may have a point, but it still seems like a good idea to remove illegal immigrants…

Still quite flummoxed by good hearted’s continued resistance, I resorted to the Constitutional argument, recognizing that as a lawyer, my dear friend would have to relent and recognize the controversy of the issue.  I told him that all that the Federal Judge did was assert a basic principle of Constitutional law, that the federal government has the power to create and implement immigration policy for all the states collectively. Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution gives Congress the authority “to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” Many folks think that it was one of the most logical and practical concepts enshrined by the Founders. I mean, the United States is a big place… as big as all of Europe, and that size is a strength, and also a challenge.  It seems like pretty simple common sense that all of the states should utilize a common immigration policy, as once someone has physical access to one state, they have access to them all, unless we want to require border checks in between every individual state… but that was off the point…

Good Hearted did relent, he agreed that the policies seemed a bit over the top, and probably unconstitutional.  He did, however, still argue that deporting illegals was a good idea… and lot’s of people agree. Immigration reform is a hot topic, and one supported by everyone from liberals to hard core conservatives and libertarians… the issue is how to reform it. Perhaps the real value in this Arizona law is to raise the issues, and give an example of how we do not want that reform accomplished.

Ambrose Law Group


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