When Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona signed Senate Bill 1070 into law last month, the salsa really hit the fan.
From ballplayers to bishops, from Congressmen to commentators, the hew and cry of illegal, discriminatory racial profiling has been raised to a fevered pitch.
Even before the law was signed, the case of Abdon, the licensed commercial truck driver who was handcuffed and taken into custody because he wasn’t carrying his birth certificate, was broadcast across the Internet, and he became the unwilling poster boy for the Nazi-ization of Arizona.
I’ve spent some time reading Senate Bill 1070, and I must confess that as piece of legislation it leaves a lot to be desired.
One section, for example, which is intended to curb the employment of illegal immigrants, requires the Attorney General to publish a form on which citizens can report the employment of illegals by their fellow Arizonans.
It then requires the Attorney General and the county prosecutors to investigate any employer whose employment practices have been challenged by somebody on an official form.
The statute prohibits an accusation based entirely on the race or color of the workers. That’s fine. But the statute doesn’t require any basis for the accusation to be recited in the form.
The form may not ask for the complainant’s social security number nor does it need to be notarized. Not being notarized is an off-hand way of saying that the accusation does not have to be made under oath.
Even more troubling to my lawyer’s sensitivities is the next line in the statute which authorizes, though it does not require, the Attorney General and the local prosecutors to investigate employers based on complaints which are not made on the official form.
Then just so there is nothing left to doubt, the statute says:
“This subsection shall not be construed to prohibit the filing of anonymous complaints that are not submitted on a prescribed complaint form.”
I have no doubt that these and other sections of the new law will be struck down as soon as they are challenged in the Federal Courts.
As they should be.
But if the new Arizona law goes too far and offends our constitutional sensibilities, is it really enough to strike it down, shrug our shoulders and concede that nothing can be done to combat the surge of illegal immigration that threatens to inundate the southwest?
The Constitution of the United States authorizes the Congress to enact uniform naturalization laws. It doesn’t mention immigration, though there is a large body of opinion which holds that the federal government has the inherent right and the implied duty to control our national borders.
The United States Code is full of minute regulations about who can come here, how long they can stay, what they can do, what they must do and what can happen if they don’t.
But the sad fact is that our federal government has neither the will nor the way to enforce its immigration regulations.
Aside from the occasional demonstration raids on selected employers, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which has been subsumed into the Homeland Security Office, has been eminently ineffective in stemming the tide of humanity from Mexico.
Arizona and the other border states have a right to protect themselves. They have a right to step into the breach and enforce the laws which Uncle Sam ignores.
Hispanic organizations have been vocal in their criticism of Arizona, but do they really want to see the Grand Canyon State boycotted? Don’t they have the same interest as the rest of the country in preventing illegal immigration?
I’d be interested to hear what Ozzie Guillen, Jose Sulaiman, and Cesar Izturis think Arizona should be doing about the problem.