Immigration crisis justifies Arizona law

April 27, 2010


Arizona has decided that if the federal government will not live up to its responsibility to control the border, it will. Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed a bill that allows police officers to inquire about a person’s immigration status if there is reason to suspect that individual might be an illegal immigrant. The governor correctly noted that the new law “represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix.”

The latest example of that failure is the Obama administration’s refusal to finish the border fence begun with some reluctance by the Bush administration.

Critics of the new law, who plan a court challenge, ask how police officers will “know” by observation whether someone might be in the country illegally. Police officers regularly make judgment calls about suspicious behavior, whether it involves erratic driving, passing small packets on the street in drug-infested neighborhoods, or searching cars for drugs and alcohol. “Immigrant groups” are upset that in Arizona people might actually be forced to comply with the law or face deportation.

Let’s get something straight. The failure to protect America’s southern border has been a bipartisan effort. Democrats want more illegal immigrants in the country because they are a potential source of votes they hope will contribute to a permanent Democratic majority. Republicans and their donors want more illegal immigrants in America because they are a source of cheap labor. Once you understand this, you can ignore much of the talk about “human rights.”

If a state, or nation, has laws it will not enforce for political reasons, it mocks both the law and politics, to say nothing of the cultural order. If the language of laws has no meaning other than what lawmakers assign to them after a law is enacted, it is proof that we have arrived in a kind of legal “Wonderland” in which Alice is told by Humpty Dumpty, “When I use a word ... it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” To which Alice responds, “The question is ... whether you can make words mean so many different things.” Politicians constantly try.

So what does the “illegal” in illegal immigration mean? For that matter, what does the less judgmental and legally vacuous “undocumented alien” mean? If something is illegal, according to dictionary.com, it is “forbidden by law or statute.” If one is “undocumented” that person lacks “the needed documents, as for permission to live or work in a foreign country.” Sociological and political considerations notwithstanding, the law should be the law and its requirements ought to be universally adhered to, or punishment imposed for their violation.

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, as of 2007, there are about 475,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona straining an already overburdened economy. Taxpaying citizens must underwrite the cost of schooling for their children, as well as visits to emergency rooms. In California, several hospitals have had to close because they could no longer afford to give free care to noncitizens.

Gangs in Arizona operate under the command of drug lords in Mexico. This and other criminal activity threaten the peace and security of Arizonans and potentially all American citizens. Is this something that must be endured for the sake of “human rights groups” and “immigration rights groups,” or is it long past time to slow the flow?

The Arizona legislature and Gov. Brewer have correctly chosen to slow the flow. They realize a state and a nation unwilling to protect their borders cannot hope to preserve qualities that have made this country what it is but won’t be for much longer if we permit this illegal invasion to continue.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services. tmseditors@tribune.com


geekin_topekan 8 years, 2 months ago

Universal health care and legalized pot would relieve two of your gripes.

The browning of America is uncomfortable for the, until recently, presumed face of power in America; the white male. Their laws are becoming more and more brazen toward brown-specific legislation. The next few years will be very interesting in American history. Let's proceed with caution. Brown votes are going to be very important to the Repubs and this is not a way to secure them.

citizen0123 8 years, 1 month ago

if they are not in this country legally,then their vote should not count.they absolutly do not have the right to vote on anything in this country as long as they are here in violation of federal and state laws.they are criminals. does anyone think they can enter another country and vote without becoming legalized? So,in the interest of securing votes,for any party,we should just turn our backs on our boarders and let anyone who wants to just come on in? BROWN VOTES? DONT YOU MEAN AMERICAN VOTES?

whats_going_on 8 years, 1 month ago

Obviously you can't vote if you're here illegally, but the ones who are here legally and either still feel discriminated against or sympathize are definitely going to have an opinion about this.

ivalueamerica 8 years, 2 months ago

If we can not learn to control illegal immigration without eroding our Constitution and civil rights, then we fail as a nation.

I challenge my fellow Americans that we can find ways to stop illegal immigration without spitting on the Constitution and those that can not or do not care about the Constitution are traitors to America and just as dangerous as illegal immigrants.

citizen0123 8 years, 1 month ago

YOU SAID IT YOUR SELF, DANGEROUS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. No one is spitting on the constitution.All that is being asked is that you enter this country legally and respect our constitution. Why do you assume that all the law enforcement officers along our nations borders are racial profilers and all they want to do is ignore human rights because their skin is the wrong color?Why do you think our police officers,the very ones that protect you and your family,are all of a sudden going to become racist.These laws have always been in place. You make it sound like theyre going to go out and start clubbing people.You must have a very low opinion of our police forces.Keep that in mind the next time you need help. Do yourself a favor,read the bill that was signed.It isnt new.

jaywalker 8 years, 2 months ago

Just like Pitts' piece the other day, it was a no-brainer who the author of this one was. Pretty sad to pigeon-hole oneself so blatantly.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

"Once you understand this, you can ignore much of the talk about “human rights.”"

Cal, you always ignore talk about "human rights," so no "understanding" on your part is required (or expected.)

cato_the_elder 8 years, 2 months ago

Whatever one thinks of the Arizona law, Thomas hits the nail on the head as to why neither party has done anything to fix, or at least attempt to ameliorate, this very significant problem.

Brent Garner 8 years, 1 month ago

I agree with Cato. What needs to be done is to dry up the incentive for these folks to come here. Arrest those who employ them. Mandate checks as to legally to work in the US. Deport those who are shown to be here illegally--no I don't mean a lengthy process, just put them on a bus to the border and tell them to go south and stay there. As for legal immigration, thats fine and wonderful. Lets invite the best and brightest especially from any country on earth to come here, live, work and contribute. This may sound unkind but doing that will improve the US and lower things elsewhere, giving us the advantage.

citizen0123 8 years, 1 month ago

I agree.Its time to impose stiff penaltys on those people that keep hireing illegal aliens.There are 8 million + people,legal people, in this country that could use a job.Why not hire them?

whats_going_on 8 years, 1 month ago

I think beo has a point...I think a lot of American's feel too entitled to do "dirty" work that illegals will gladly do for less pay.

whats_going_on 8 years, 1 month ago

How many stories/blogs do we really need about this, honestly.

kansasironworker 8 years, 1 month ago

well we at one time did do raids and sent them back but only less than 20 mi into mexiceo. but since then they have schools that teach them to use our laws against us.. take for instance. political , refugee, or just play silent. and run back over again till ya get it right. watch some tv shows of people doing it every day. fence only go so far out of town 2 cities same name on both side of fence less than a block away. they dig tunnels to both sides so if ya go far enough well ya in the us and far from the border patrol. oh why must i press 1 for english. no russian ,german, french or any other ? oh i know in canada they have the french first then english in most store front signs. but they also have a high asian population in a few major cities. so think long and hard about that .

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 1 month ago

Still having that same recurring dream I see. Good luck with that.

tbaker 8 years, 1 month ago

Sometime after WWII, the immigration paradigm in the United States changed from one focused on “citizenship” to that of being a “legal” alien. Whats the harm in re-focusing on citizenship? In this day and age, why does it take 7-9 years to become a citizen when I can be approved for a half a million dollar mortgage in about thirty minutes on the internet, and never speak to another human being? What gives? Why don’t we set up little Ellis Islands every 100 miles or so along the border, and make everyone who wants to come here tax-paying citizens. Have the ones here illegally now pay fines for breaking the law and tell them to report to one of these things and get in line. Everybody else who won’t participate in the process needs to be immediately deported – just like Mexico does to people who enter that country illegally. Next time you run into someone from Belize or Guatemala, ask them how the Mexican Border Police deal with people trying to come across the southern Mexican border. Quite a few don’t survive their encounter with the federales.

beatrice 8 years, 1 month ago

Cal: "Gangs in Arizona operate under the command of drug lords in Mexico. This and other criminal activity threaten the peace and security of Arizonans and potentially all American citizens."

What will this law do to stop any of the problems relating to guns and drugs? The police will now be so busy stopping people for being brown in public that they won't have enough time to stop the people they always were looking for -- those with illegal guns and drugs.

And what the %#%@ does Cal Thomas know about Arizona? I live in Phoenix. We have far fewer undocumented workers here illegally then we did two years ago. The jobs dried up, and under threat of losing thier business license, businesses are required to have proof that hired workers are here legally. This means people here illegally have already left the area. So passing this law now is about the not particularly popular Jan Brewer and the Republican legislators doing some grandstanding and pandering to the lowest form of the "take our country back" Rush and Beck heads that remain in the Republican party. Of course, Cal wouldn't know this, as he doesn't live here.

This is an unconstitutional law that requires a certain segment of our population -- those who look like they might be Mexican -- to live under a different set of rules. Rights aren't equal.

I hope everyone remembers what Republicans think of Americans who are brown. They are happy to have turned Arizona into a police state in which someone can be arrested for being brown and not having identification. Add to this the uproar over Sotomayor, and the Republicans have cut out the Hispanic population from their "big" tent.

jafs 8 years, 1 month ago


According to a comment on another story about this, one is only required to show a driver's license, state ID, or green card (there was one other I can't recall).

What's so terrible about that? I carry my driver's license with me all of the time, and so do most people I know.

If you're a legal immigrant, you're currently required to show a green card if requested.

Just have basic ID on you, and show it if requested - problem solved.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 1 month ago

There is no justification for discrimination!

Flap Doodle 8 years, 1 month ago

" grammaddy (anonymous) says… There is no justification for discrimination!" There is no justification for not enforcing the law. Be legal or be gone.

independant1 8 years, 1 month ago


ignore it and it will go away

nope, that tactic didn't work

A trickle of illegals - ok a flood - not ok

glub, glub, glub

Flap Doodle 8 years, 1 month ago

In other news: "...The law will allow police to engage in racial profiling. Actually, Section 2 provides that a law enforcement official “may not solely consider race, color or national origin” in making any stops or determining immigration status. In addition, all normal Fourth Amendment protections against profiling will continue to apply. In fact, the Arizona law actually reduces the likelihood of race-based harassment by compelling police officers to contact the federal government as soon as is practicable when they suspect a person is an illegal alien, as opposed to letting them make arrests on their own assessment...." http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/29/opinion/29kobach.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bradley Kemp 8 years, 1 month ago

So our laws should mean not what our elected lawmakers or courts say they mean -- but what dictionary.com says they mean? And police officers should be able to observe someone being in the county illegally in the same way that they can observe a driver speeding or two people exchanging a small package of powder on a street corner? Come on, Cal. We're not that dim witted.

tbaker 8 years, 1 month ago

From the Mexican Immigration Law - Reglamento de la Ley General de Poblacion — the General Law on Population enacted in Mexico in April 2000.

It mandates that federal, local and municipal police cooperate with federal immigration authorities in that country in the arrests of illegal immigrants.

It makes illegal immigration into Mexico a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Those who are deported and caught again can be sent to prison for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms as well. Mexican citizens who are caught helping illegal immigrants are considered criminals under the law.

The law says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to "economic or national interests," who otherwise violate Mexican law, or are not "physically or mentally healthy" , or lack the "necessary funds for their sustenance."

Question: Why would any Mexican citizen, whether in Mexico now, or in the US illegally have a problem with a US state law that is FAR less draconian than that of their own home country? Wheres the outrage against Mexico for its treatment of illegal aliens? They’re mostly of Hispanic heritage too? Hypocrisy perhaps?

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