Sunday, May 23, 2010

Reading the Immigration Debate

Since Arizona passed its stringent new immigration law, I've pondered the situation quite a bit.

I'm the son of an immigrant -- my father, his brother and their parents came to the United States from The Netherlands in 1950 and were among the last wave of immigrants to pass through Ellis Island in New York City. They traveled by train as far as Chicago, Illinois, before they ran out of money and wired their sponsor -- an Idaho Falls real estate developer -- for assistance to finish the voyage to Idaho. Once there, they found work -- they were among the crews that built the Civic Auditorium and Idaho Falls High School. Dad went on to become a bricklayer. His brother became a concrete finisher. Their parents worked a small farm, and found a happy life here.

Some of Dad's family's immigration papers. The rest are here.

They immigrated to the country legally. That helps me frame part of my opinion on immigration. Those who want to come here ought to do so legally.

Those who work here ought to either have the proper work or student visa or become a citizen of the United States. Maybe that sounds harsh and heartless. That doesn't mean that there can't be people or organizations that work to support those who are working on legal immigration/working status before that stat us is obtained. I just know that the same rule of law ought to apply to everyone. As I was applying for the job I have currently (working as a subcontractor to a federal agency) I had to verify that I was a citizen of the United States, or duly documented to work in this country. I had to do so again as I filled out paperwork with the company after I was hired -- and to lie on the application meant I acknowledge that I could be fired if a lie were discovered, even an inadvertent one.

Arizona's immigration law has gotten a lot of press -- but as far as I can tell, it doesn't go beyond what federal law already states, except in the fact that it's more likely that Arizona, which is dealing with illegal immigration on a scale most of the rest of us in the country cannot fathom, will actually enforce the law.

Unlike some of the higher-profile opponents of the law, I've read what Arizona has approved. Text of the bill is available here.

Reading the bill would seen requisite to criticizing the bill, but apparently we have folks in high places who either don't read or can't find the time to read or something. Amusingly, Arizona has a reply to that situation:

I'm probably a soft touch on immigration. Shoe me immigrants who are struggling to make ends meet while they're working to legitimize their immigration/working status, and I'm likely to help them out as I can. Are there things we can do to help and encourage immigrants to become legal without threatening them with deportation or worse? Absolutely.

1 comment:

Steve Loertscher said...

Amen, Mr. Fweem. I've read the statute, and the only thing that makes it remarkable from a legal sense is that it requires Arizona agencies to enforce the federal law to the maximum extent possible. This removes a law enforcement official's discretion to not turn them over to ICE. The law should withstand constitutional scrutiny, because the "reasonable suspicion" language is entirely consistent with 4th Amendment jurisprudence. If people would read the law they would understand that.