Debate on Arizona’s ‘no illegal immigrants’

Vanessa Gomez, Ernesto Lopez, Vanessa Gomez, and Ernesto Lopez

Protests, Web sites and petitions galore have mounted against the newly-passed Arizona law (SB 1070). Thousands hit the streets of Arizona, claiming the bill is “unconstitutional,” “irrational” and “dangerous.” Members of the press have compared it to Adolf Hitler’s orders to the SS to demand papers from Jewish people. Although our society seems a far cry from the Third Reich, the passing of the bill definitely shadows the absurdities of the once superpowers, swiftly authorizing law enforcement to spearhead the “war on immigration.”

SB 1070 makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally. The bill also requires legal immigrants to carry documentation. Police are now urged to stop persons of “reasonable suspicion” and demand papers when questioned. To top it off, citizens can sue local government for not enforcing the law.

First off, there is the blatant subject of racial profiling with the bill. Arizona police have the right to ask for documents from anyone that seems “illegal.” What exactly defines “reasonable suspicion,” signaling an officer to question residency? Sure there are a few blonde-haired, blue-eyed Mexican-Americans roaming the streets, but the fact of the matter is police officers will probably focus their efforts on those with brown-haired, brown-eyed characteristics typical of Mexicans.

The type of discrimination that can surface from this is alarming, similar to the racial profiling some Middle Eastern-Americans deal with at airports. Yes, this country has been severely burned by some Middle Eastern terrorist groups, but does that mean they all carry the same values as Osama Bin Laden? It’s the same stereotyping that could be applied to Mexican-Americans: just because they look a certain way, does that make them illegal? Hispanics are quickly becoming the majority in the U.S. Are we to assume all of them are without credentials?

And what about illegals in the work force? Let’s be honest, America, this country thrives on immigrant workers that take on the jobs many residents of these great states won’t do themselves. This country is guilty of taking advantage of undocumented workers, forced to work long hours for minimal pay. Remember the immigrant ghettos in an emerging New York City? This is a pattern that continues to repeat itself.

The concept that some people feel immigrants take away jobs from hard-working Americans is almost laughable. Do non-Hispanics volunteer themselves as day laborers, waiting to be picked up for a grueling day’s work at a pitiful wage? If non-Hispanics think they aren’t being considered for these jobs, then why don’t they show up at 6 a.m. and wait? What could be a more level playing field than that?

What about major corporations that outsource to foreign countries to man call centers or manufacture products we buy in stores? Consumers in this country love a great deal, so kicking out a workforce that is willing to do remedial jobs for less pay could hit wallets hard.

A possible solution to this problem? Research the possibility of a better guest worker program, similar to a program tested in 2007, but that was drowned in bureaucratic red tape.

Other than moral or economic reasons for the bill being problematic, is the bill even practical? Americans frown upon carrying personal documents for fear of identity theft. Unless a profession requires carting around credentials, people rarely tote their passport or social security card. And what about the loophole that when questioned, a person has the right to refuse showing documentation? Will that satisfy an officer suspicious of your legality? What lengths will law enforcement go to in order to ensure citizenship?

To give Arizona lawmakers credit where it’s due, the bill is probably the result of the overwhelming crime that has ensued from the drug cartels, the coyotes in the human smuggling, and kidnappings. Arizona, however, has jumped the gun and enacted a law that hurts Latinos and Americans alike. Law abiding Americans, most of which are Latino, need to be protected and not harassed due to the color of their skin.