We have absolute chaos at our southern border. There is a literal war going along the Mexican border, and it is spilling to the north. What to do? It seems like the Feds have done nothing in both the Bush and Obama administration. Secretary of Homeland Security, and former Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano questions whether she has the resources to handle such a law saying it "will detract from and siphon resources that we need to focus on those in the country illegally who are, those who are committing the most serious crimes in addition to violating our nation’s immigration laws."
I know that she’s been too busy watching out for “rightwing extremists” so we’ll have to cut her some slack. Seriously, what were they supposed to do? Phoenix is considered the kidnapping capital of the United States, and is second only to Mexico City worldwide.
What were they supposed to do? They did the only reasonable thing they could do – empower their law enforcement to actually enforce the law. President Obama calls it misguided. Attorney General Eric Holder said that they may fight this law. Yet they do nothing.
Here’s the kicker – Arizona legislators were very careful in how they worded the law. It mirrors current federal law. If it went beyond federal law then they would have a case, but Arizona has some tight provisions that I think addresses the kneejerk “concern.” The law states:
Prohibits law enforcement officials and law enforcement agencies of this state or counties, municipalities and political subdivisions from restricting or limiting the enforcement of the federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.
· Requires officials and agencies to reasonably attempt to determine the immigration status of a person involved in a lawful contact where reasonable suspicion exists regarding the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.
· Stipulates that if the person is arrested, the person’s immigration status must be determined before the person is released and must be verified with the federal government.
· Stipulates that a law enforcement official or agency cannot solely consider race, color or national origin when implementing these provisions, except as permitted by the U.S. or Arizona Constitution.
· Specifies that a person is presumed to be lawfully present if the person provides any of the following:
Ø A valid Arizona driver license.
Ø A valid Arizona nonoperating identification license.
Ø A valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification.
Ø A valid federal, state or local government issued identification, if the issuing entity requires proof of legal presence before issuance.
· Requires that if a person is convicted of any state or local law, on discharge from imprisonment or on the assessment of any monetary obligation imposed, ICE or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) must be immediately notified.
· Authorizes a law enforcement agency to securely transport an unlawfully present alien to a federal facility.
· Requires a law enforcement agency to obtain judicial authorization before securely transporting an unlawfully present alien to a point of transfer that is outside of Arizona.
· Prohibits, except as provided in federal law, officials and agencies of counties, cities, towns or other political subdivisions from being prevented or restricted from sending, receiving or maintaining information relating to the immigration status, of any individual or exchanging that information with another governmental entity for the following official purposes:
Ø Determination of eligibility for any public benefit, service or license.
Ø Verification of any claim of legal domicile if legal domicile is required by law or judicial order.
Ø If the person is an alien, determination of the person’s compliance with federal registration laws.
Ø Pursuant to federal laws regarding communication between government agencies and federal immigration agencies.
· Stipulates that these provisions does not implement, authorize or establish and cannot be construed to implement authorize or establish the REAL ID Act of 2005, including the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
· Allows a person who is a legal resident of this state to bring an action in superior court to challenge officials and agencies of the state, counties, cities, towns or other political subdivisions that adopt or implement a policy that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.
· Requires the court to order any that a violating entity pays a civil penalty of at least $1,000 and not to exceed $5,000 for each day that the policy has remained in effect after it has been found to be violating these provisions.
· States that the court will collect the penalty and transmit the collected monies to the state Treasurer for deposit in the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM) Fund.
· Authorizes the court to award court costs and reasonable attorney fees to any person or any official or agency that prevails in a case brought under these provisions.
· Indemnifies officers against actions brought under these provisions, except if the officer has been adjudged to have acted in bad faith.
· Stipulates that these provisions are to be implemented consistent with federal immigration law protecting the civil right of all persons and respecting the privileges and immunities of US citizens.
So basically it states we are going to fully cooperate and help the federal government where we legally can. Then the law also addresses penalties against Arizona’s legal residents if they are caught unlawfully picking up passengers for work, as well as, harboring and transporting illegal aliens. They also outline employer sanctions.
This is a bold move. They needed to do something. President Obama’s administration can challenge this law, but will have to do so knowing they are against a law that 70% of likely Arizona voters back this law. In a national poll – 60% of those surveyed by Rasmussen support giving local law enforcement the authority to stop and verify immigration status. Republicans and Independents overwhelming support such a measure, but Democrats themselves are evenly split.
People recognize something needs to be done. While we don’t want to see people pulled over simply for being Hispanic, if in the course of a reasonable traffic stop or other law enforcement action it just makes sense. Since Congress and President Obama don’t seem to want to do anything Arizona was right to act. I hope other border states follow suit. Let’s use common sense, enforce the existing law, and stop making victims of those who are here illegally.