Running Head: American Government and Politics
Course: GPT 170/ Section 6382
- Period when immigrants started to settle in America
- Laws set to check on the number of foreigners
- The laws on immigration
- People who are against these laws
- Reasons why these people are against these laws
- The percentage supporting the proposed laws
- Details of the laws
- How it affects the illegal immigrants
- The powers it gives to the law enforcers
- Its effect on people’s civil rights
- Why immigrants should be treated well
- Rules to be followed when creating the immigration laws
Government’s New Immigration Law Unconstitutional Intrusion on Federal Authority and a Violation of Civil Rights
The subject of immigration has been a thorny issue over the recent years. Historically, America is where it is today, thanks to immigration. Bromwell (2010) gives documentation on how immigrants came to settle in America from as early as the 16th century. He states that the number of immigrants from other continents had reached 4,212,624 within the period of 1819 to 1855. The number has increased exponentially over the years hence a number of legislations have come up to keep in check the number of foreigners immigrating to America in such of greener pastures. One such law is the new immigration law of Arizona, which was signed by Governor Jan Brewer in 23rd April and will take effect in July 29.
The law has created uproar with many opponents threatening lawsuits, as it is believed to be in violation of civil rights and an intrusion on federal authority. The opponents of this law range from civil rights leaders, the justice department, Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon and even President Obama who has stated that it is misguided and requested for its close monitoring to prevent civil rights violation. The law has painted a bad image of Arizona prompting the governor to allocate 250,000 dollars for the state’s rebranding. The state has also lost a whopping 100 million in conventional commitments (Slevin, 2010). Contrary to beliefs, the law has a lot of national support. This is according to opinion polls by CBS News. The polls indicate that 52 percent support the law, 17 percent believe that it does not go far enough whereas 21 percent perceive it to be too harsh (The Washington Post).
This new legislation mandates law enforcers to verify one’s immigration status if he is suspected to be in the country illegally. It makes it a state offence if one fails to carry documentation attesting to their immigration status and it is a crime to work in Arizona if one is an illegal immigrant. Not only is this law hard on illegal immigrants, it also penalizes individuals who knowingly harbor them or disregards their immigration status. In addition, it permits law enforcement officers to arrest individuals believed to have committed an offense that demands his removal from US soil, albeit without a warrant. According to this law, employers are required to keep records that verify employee’s immigration status. Lastly, the law asserts that Arizona will not comply with the Real ID Act of 2005 (Roberts, 1970).
Proponents of the legislation argue that the law is neither unconstitutional nor an intrusion on federal authority. They raise concerns over the inaction by the federal government on the blatant menace caused by illegal immigrants and agree that if the federal government cannot act, then, it is only right to enact the law at the state level. On the issue of racial profiling, proponents argue that it is inevitable and necessary to identify the illegal immigrants. This is because it is impossible to identify an illegal immigrant without first noticing their race. They assert that whenever one goes to a foreign country, it is mandatory to produce papers hence this law is justifiable. Some proponents believe that if this law is enacted, crime rates will decrease in Arizona, as illegal immigrants are closely associated with crime. They are enraged, as they perceive illegal immigrants to be unjustly benefiting from their welfare system, their school system and health care.
The Asian and Latino community have been the most affected by this legislation. This law is unconstitutional as it goes against the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unlawful searches and seizures, that is, searches without legally obtained warrants. The Fourth Amendment also states that arrests should be made when the warrant has been properly obtained and supported by a probable cause. Additionally, the new legislation is against the Fourteenth Amendment that guarantees equal protection for everyone within the state jurisdiction. Hence, it leaves no room for racial segregation or civil rights violation.
This law is an intrusion on federal authority, which is the one mandated to handle immigration laws according to the US constitution. Furthermore, the Arizona state has no resources to implement the legislation. In fact, The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (APOSTB) is now soliciting for support from the federal government to train 15,000 officers by August 1st (USA Today, 2010). These officers will thereafter be responsible for locating and arresting illegal immigrants. This begs the question of whether local authorities are better equipped to handle immigration matters that is a preserve of the federal government. Evidently, funds that were allocated for other priorities will be diverted to this law, namely, the training of the 15,000 officers.
Furthermore, the Arizona new immigration law is an infringement on civil rights. It will lead to racial profiling, as police will be at liberty to stop people who look like immigrants and inquire their racial background. It is a racist law and discriminates against the immigrant community especially the Latino. There are currently 460,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona (Green, 2004). These immigrants contribute significantly to Arizona’s economy due to their purchasing power, the businesses they own and the people they employ.
There has been constant friction between federal officials and boarder communities in New Mexico, Texas, California and Arizona. Consequently, efforts have been made to enforce legislations to curb this. Nonetheless, there has not been an overbearing law such as this one. Such laws are unfavorable to the border communities, who are additionally subjected to violence by border police. Dulles (1997) points-out that in an effort to control the influx of foreigners, American citizens can fall prey. He gives an example of Operation Wetback in 1954 where more than one million were deported because a number of them were legally American citizens who were denied hearing.
In conclusion, it is worth noting that America came into existence due to immigration. The immigrants in this country are very instrumental in providing some blue-collar jobs, which many American nationals are not willing to do. The Bill of Rights does not support any form of discrimination, hence any legislation that is contrary to the Bill of Rights is definitely unconstitutional. The new Arizona immigration law is both unconstitutional and a violation of civil rights. Yes, immigration if left unchecked can be very detrimental. However, there is no room for draconian rules in a democratic country such as ours. Proper channels have to be followed in the process of lawmaking, bearing in mind that the federal government is supreme and a state cannot usurp its authority.
Bromwell, W.J. (2010). History of Immigration to the United States. New York, NY: BiblioBazaar.
Dulles, J.F. (1997). Federal Immigration Law Enforcement in the South West: Civil Rights Impact on Boarder Communities. Darby, PA: Diane Publishing Co.
Green, S. (2004). The Politics of Exclusion: Institutions and Immigration Policy in Contemporary Germany. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.
Roberts, P. (1970). The New Immigration: American Immigration Collection. Ayer, MA: Ayer Publishing.
Slevin, P. (2010, June 8). Arizona Leaders Lament as State’s Image takes beating with New Immigration Law. The Washington Post.
USA Today (2010, April 26th). Arizona Agency Seeks Federal help on Immigration Law. Retrieved June, 8 from http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/arizonaimmigration/N.htm