by Walter Brasch
Two things are assured this coming week. One is that Arizona will do its best to put into practice its controversial anti-immigration bill. The other is that a federal district court will rule whether that law is constitutional.
The Arizona law requires all law enforcement officials who stop anyone for any reason to determine if that person may be an illegal resident. If the person can't produce documentation, the police are required to detain the individual and to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The Arizona law is mostly based upon the fear by Arizonans that the state is being overrun by Hispanic illegals, and that the federal government isn't curbing the problem. However, the Obama administration has increased both personnel and funding for immigration enforcement. Critics have also complained about President Obama's recommendation for a one-time general amnesty for undocumented workers and their families who have no criminal records. That same proposal by George W. Bush, which included other immigration reform, was never enacted into law because of the opposition by the extreme right wing.
Most law enforcement officers, including most Arizona police don't like this law. It takes away time and resources; it also creates a barrier between police and undocumented workers, who often cooperate with the police in their investigations because they know the police will not notify ICE. There is no doubt that police will have a serious problem locating undocumented workers who could be witnesses. More important, police community relations will deteriorate under the new law.
Contrary to the panic and fear demonstrated by certain citizens, contrary to the politician rants to get media attention, and contrary to the media which have under-reported the good that minority cultures bring to the nation but have exaggerated criminal activity, most undocumented workers are neither lazy nor are criminals. Most don't use the welfare system or hospital ERs because they are afraid of being caught and deported.
The federal lawsuit avoids the Constitutional issues of civil rights and due process violations. It asks the federal district court in Phoenix to rule that the Constitution reserves all immigration issues and enforcement solely to the federal government. No matter what the ruling, it is likely there will be an appeal, which will eventually reach the Supreme Court.
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