Opinion

Opinion

Anti-immigration law would hurt U.S.

February 28, 2012

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If Mitt Romney becomes the next president of the United States and honors his latest vow to turn the Arizona immigration law into a “model” for the entire country, life in America could become quite unpleasant for many of us who look like immigrants, or speak English with a foreign accent.

In the Feb. 22 Republican debate in Arizona, where Romney and his main rival Rick Santorum were competing for the state’s anti-illegal immigration vote, Romney praised Arizona’s E-Verify system to check employees’ immigration status and said, “I think we see a model here in Arizona.” He added that, if elected, he would stop current federal lawsuits against Arizona-style laws “from day one.”

“Dios Mio!” I said to myself when I heard that. Judging from what we have seen in states that have passed Arizona-styled laws, that would lead to arbitrary arrests and interrogations not only of undocumented immigrants, but of legal residents and U.S. citizens as well.

The 2010 Arizona law requires, among other things, that local police demand immigration papers when they have a reasonable suspicion that a person is in the country illegally. It was suspended after a federal lawsuit questioning its constitutionality and is before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Supporters of the law deny it would lead to a wild goose chase of foreign-looking people, and to widespread harassment of immigrants. They say the law does not allow police officers to stop people at random, because it specifically requires that they demand immigration papers only when they carry out a “lawful stop, detention or arrest.”

But those are vague terms, critics say. A police officer wanting to make overtime could legally stop people to ask whether they saw something suspicious around the corner, then arrest them for not having proper immigration papers.

In addition, the Arizona law requires that local police act as immigration inspectors not only when they legally stop somebody for a crime, but also when they do it for a violation of a city ordinance.

If somebody calls the police to complain that a neighbor is playing music too loud at a party next door, an officer could show up at the party and detain anybody there who can’t prove their legal status, opponents of the law say.

“The central problem is that it opens the door to widespread racial profiling based on what individuals look like or sound like,” Karen Tumlin, an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles, told me last week. “The ‘reasonable suspicion’ wording would force cops to make judgments based on what people look like.”

It has already happened, and not just with Latin American or Asia-born people. In Alabama, one of several states that has passed Arizona-styled laws, a German executive with Mercedes Benz was recently arrested under the state’s new immigration law near his company’s manufacturing plant for not carrying documents proving his legal immigration status, the Associated Press reported Nov. 19.

The 46-year-old German visitor’s rental car was stopped by a police officer and the man was arrested when he could not prove his legal immigration status, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson told the wire agency. The visitor was released when an associate retrieved his passport from his hotel room.

Two weeks later, a Japanese employee from a nearby Honda plant was arrested and jailed for three days under Alabama’s immigration law after he was stopped during a checkpoint used by police to detect unlicensed drivers, even after he showed his international driver’s license, a valid passport and a U.S. work permit. There have been dozens of similar cases since Alabama’s anti-immigrations law was enacted.

A recent study by Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research economist Sam Addy concluded that the Alabama law could cost the state as much as $10.8 billion a year. Another study says Arizona’s immigration law has cost that state’s tourism industry $490 million.

Can you imagine what would happen in tourism and foreign trade-dependent states such as Florida if Arizona-like laws became the law of the land? Or what it would do to the real estate and convention industries in cities like Miami or New York?

My opinion: By almost any measure, Arizona-style laws are morally questionable and economically disastrous, and increasingly unnecessary at a time when illegal immigration has dropped dramatically after the 2008 U.S. economic downturn.

If Romney — and, to be fair, Santorum as well — stopped federal lawsuits against these xenophobic laws and allowed them to become a “model” for the entire nation, America would cease to be the country it has always been.

— Andres Oppenheimer is a Latin America correspondent for the Miami Herald.

Comments

oldbaldguy 3 years, 4 months ago

Romney and Santorum are idiots, pandering to our worst emotions. Maybe this is a Mormon plot or maybe the Catholic Church? What is the explanation? Do they really think we are that stupid? I think they do. Look what happened in Alabama. We need to deal with the illegal immigration issue, but this is not it. Maybe it is another amnesty period like President Reagan implemented. Papers please?

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 4 months ago

ONE of the many problems involved is clearly demonstrated by the Mercedes and Honda examples...untrained law enforcement.

Brittanicus 3 years, 4 months ago

States with very large populations of illegal aliens, beginning with the election in Michigan and Arizona should be very aware of non-citizens voting. The Democrats and its Liberal progressive core have been shown in the daily news reports that many in their party have strayed from election laws and remained indifferent to illegal acts. Whether it’s in gubernatorial, state or local election cycle, then leading up to the 2012 presidential election we must stay wise to how easy it is to cheat the system, if no form of picture ID is required. The Absentee Ballot can easily be altered and non voters have found the way to slip around the laws. With comparable organizations to ACORN, condemned for its canvassers signing up anybody with a pulse, this method netted hundreds of thousands of illegal voters in eleven states. Without any form of official ID non citizens have located the ambiguity, and after voting themselves turn over their card to a cousin, sister or any relative with the same address, impersonating the real citizen. What is even far worse that canvassers, who sign up people, do not even tell the people in many cases, they are not eligible to vote. Therefore non voters who are in the country legally, but then some non-citizens are misled by people collecting signatures?

As the presidential race is most probably the most important race in decades, the consequences are so high, specifically in close races. Those GOP (TEA PARTY) candidates Matt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich for president need to enlighten with statements, about the very urgent need for proof of citizenship, when voting. You may have already seen the chaos with nationwide immeasurable ID thefts, which cause aggressive action by financial institutions and sometimes years of anguish by victims. Yet the do nothings in Washington do nothing to end this epidemic. Until discovered later in life, children of citizens find they now have a complex predicament in sorting out a credit mess, after their Social security number was stolen. Yet Washington does nothing. It is way past time that like many European countries a national picture ID was issued to every citizen, with biometric information. But until an elitist Republican or Democratic leaders has their credit compromised, the theft will continue and no laws to stop non-citizens from voting will be passed?

Orwell 3 years, 4 months ago

Maybe you didn't notice that it was a Republican secretary of state (in Indiana) who was just convicted on six counts of voter fraud. The governor, Republican rising star Mitch Daniels, says he's considering letting this proven lawbreaker – who listed election integrity as one of his top campaign issues – resume his duties overseeing Indiana elections.

Rather than focus on the imaginary hordes of foreigners who would risk deportation in order to cast a vote, you might want to focus on repeated illegal conduct by Republicans (like misinformation about elections in robocalls and leaflets targeted at Democratic and minority neighborhoods) that are intended to subvert democracy.

Brittanicus 3 years, 4 months ago

All 50 States have been trying desperately to save their legal population into forfeiting dollars for illegal alien welfare, but they have received an extreme bombardment for decades, instigated by Liberal media, religion, unions, special interests and radical minority groups, that insist we pay for their settling here. This will not occur under TEA PARTY legislation and in fact they will pass bills, as the mandatory E-Verify “THE LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT” (H.R.2885) Placing federal enforcement obstacles to halt illegal workers being hired, the “BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP ACT” (H.R.140) to right a wrong by adjustment to our law, that says no child gains instant citizenship if neither parent is a U.S. citizen and owes allegiance to a foreign country. Soon as (H.R.2885) is enacted self-deportation or ATTRITION THROUGH ENFORCEMENT will commence as with jobs unavailable, they will leave. “Foothold Babies’ which goes by another name is the most expensive outlay of dollars, cemented by our judicial system that is crippling this homeland’s economy.

This has been a huge mockery of our laws, as 300 thousand females annually will purposely cross our border or enter as a tourist from another country, to have her unborn here free of charge and then apply for a green card. Then If you are not versed in the “The Legal Workforce Act” which directly affects millions of citizens-residents jobs or the “Birthright Citizenship Act” that will finally contain billions of dollars of your tax-money and not spread to nationals. Google NUMBERSUSA for much in depth portrayal of this issue and then report this fiasco to your important federal or state lawmaker and demand they pass these laws. IN COMING ELECTIONS DETERMINE WHICH DEMENTED POLITICAL ARROGANT PERSONA’S SHOULD BE DISCARDED BEFORE THEY GIVE YOUR COUNTRY AWAY. These laws above-mentioned are not state laws, but to be introduced into Congress if voters demand it from their representatives; it might just save their jobs?

Brittanicus 3 years, 4 months ago

The Liberal Vendetta has surpassed the rationality of blaming the Constitutionalists. Far from it; we need engineers, scientists and highly skilled professional in computer technology. What is not wanted is unfettered poverty that seems we are getting more of every day? The top classes of potential immigrants already have been sponsored by companies waiting for them, and its ascertained they are unlikely to be paying a visit to the welfare offices? Guest Workers for the farming industry should be well regulated and only on a temporary basis, with no path to citizenship. Anybody caught illegally in this nation, must face a felony charge. Annually the cost for this paramount immigration issue has climbed to a hundred billion and still rising.

If you really want the facts about the illegal alien incursion and many other problem that cause Americans unnecessary pain and suffering, then you need to view the uncensored pages, not suppressed by the Leftist media at (Google) AMERICAN PATROL. For information about the dishonesty in Washington and state congressional seats of power, check the web pages of the (Google) JUDICIAL WATCH.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

The word "illegal" seems to have been left out of the headline.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 4 months ago

Those that lump together legal immigration and illegal immigration do a disservice to the former and prevent an honest dialogue.

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