Immigration

Arizona Gets it Right on Illegal Immigration

Exercising its sovereign right under the Constitution’s 10th Amendment, Arizona has enacted a law empowering its state and local police officers to use suspected illegal immigrant status as a crime-fighting tool. 

The law, which GOP Gov. Jan Brewer signed April 23, uses state police authority to step up pressure on illegal aliens. This should help force many to leave the state—and the country—on their own or else face time behind bars. 

This measure promotes attrition through enforcement, the most reasonable, rational strategy on the enforcement side of the immigration equation.

This law has been vilified in every conceivable way. Obama: “misguided.” Los Angeles Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony: “German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques.” But the best description is “common sense.” 

The legislation states its intent: “The provisions of this act are intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.” 

Arizona’s new law includes several elements: It makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. This mirrors federal law, just as with narcotics and other crimes. Lawmakers categorize unlawful presence in the United States as a state criminal trespassing offense. 

Legal noncitizens can be charged if they fail to have their immigration documents handy. Also, a police officer having reasonable suspicion that someone isn’t legally in the country must check the suspect’s immigration status. The law allows officers latitude here. This police duty applies “when practicable.”

Citizens can hold state and local governments and agencies accountable. Average Arizona citizens can now sue any of these bodies that fail to carry out immigration-related enforcement. This measure counters “politically correct” officials who adopt so-called sanctuary policies or practices and thereby protecting foreign lawbreakers in certain areas.

New state crimes include transporting or harboring illegal aliens.

This law reflects a state properly acting to protect its citizens. It represents federalism at work.

And it’s long overdue. Janet Napolitano, Arizona’s former Democratic governor and now Homeland Security secretary in the Obama Administration, vetoed similar legislation. Napolitano has long advocated “comprehensive immigration reform”—code for mass amnesty.

The state already has a law requiring employers to verify that new hires may lawfully work in the United States, using the E-Verify system. The new law takes the next logical step toward making Arizona less hospitable as an illegal alien destination and for rooting out vast foreign criminal networks.

Arizona has suffered a huge impact from having an estimated 350,000 illegal alien residents. Not only has illegal immigration drained Arizona’s healthcare, education, welfare and law enforcement resources. It has also given the state some of the nation’s most oft-used smuggling routes, trekked by hordes of illegal aliens, gangs and smuggling rings.

“Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state,” Gov. Brewer said at the bill-signing. “We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life.”

The recent murder of rancher Rob Krentz by a suspected illegal alien sparked a loud public outcry. Krentz was on his own property at the Arizona-Mexico border.

Though many of the usual suspects among the open-borders pleaders oppose this law, it enjoys strong support among Arizonans and key police groups. The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which is a police union, and the Fraternal Order of Police backed the bill. Even pro-amnesty GOP Sen. John McCain, up for reelection and facing a tough primary, endorsed it.

Unsurprisingly, the National Day Labor Organizing Network opposes the legislation, as do the Mexican government, the radical Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund and a slew of similar ethnic advocacy pressure groups. President Obama, Archbishop Mahony and the American Immigration Lawyers Association stand with illegals and against fellow American citizens. 

The law, badly needed to fight the vicious foreign-born crime epidemic that illegal immigration nurtures in Arizona, bears little resemblance to the fear-mongering claims of the law’s opponents. 

The opponents early and often have charged that rampant racial profiling will follow. But this law prohibits officers from using “race, color or national origin” as the sole basis of their reasonable suspicion of illegal immigrant status. Further, officers may question suspected illegal aliens only in the context of their involvement in another law violation, such as breaking traffic laws. And the officers will get special training.

Opponents assert that the law is unconstitutional because Congress has plenary power over immigration policy. But states hold inherent police powers and much discretion under the 10th Amendment. 

Arizona’s new law addresses the consequences of illegal immigration that fall upon the state and its localities, just as its E-Verify law goes after the “jobs magnet” from the state side. Arizona is solidly within its police powers to write this kind of legislation that’s complementary to federal immigration-related statutes. 

Of course, the facts won’t stop activist groups like MALDEF from trying to derail this new law. Even before the bill was enacted, the radicals at MALDEF announced that they would challenge it in court.

Sign Up