Illegal Immigrant Reform Controversy Involving Arizona Essay

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Illegal Immigrant Reform

Illegal immigration has always been a controversial topic in the United States. While some people believe that every individual has a right to live a good life, irrespective of the country he or she is born in, others argue that it can cause social and economic problems if left unchecked. Legal immigration, on the other hand, is an accepted part of the society and this country welcomes more than one million immigrants every year. These legal immigrants are believed to have a constructive role to play in the economy and this is the reason U.S. attracts the cream of talent from other countries.

Current Controversy

The current controversy relates to the laws passed in Arizona and other states to force down on illegal immigration. Is this law necessary in the first place is the question plaguing the minds of millions of Americans today. "It's a problem with no easy answers -- and little consensus, our June poll shows. Nearly all responders (90%) say the government should beef up border security, but you are sharply divided on whether to offer illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Thirty-nine percent would offer it, 39% would not, and 12% would create a guest worker program that stopped short of citizenship. Another 10% answered "none of the above." (American School Board Journal, 2006, p.11)

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The crux of the issue is the meaning surrounding the word "illegal." While Americans are open to accepting legal immigrants and integrating them as part of the society, there is a lot of negativism about illegal immigration. One of the reasons is that the society looks down upon and punishes anyone doing illegal activities like smuggling or cheating or even violating established rules. These acts are met with stringent punishment like jail time, fines and so on. The same mentality extends to illegal immigration as well and this is probably why a good number of Americans do not believe it is the right path to citizenship.

Essay on Illegal Immigrant Reform Controversy Involving Arizona Assignment

There are many reasons attributed to the spurt of illegal immigration in the recent years. The increased violence in Mexico and the resulting insecurity and poverty has forced thousands of people to flee the border to give a better life for their children. There is little chance for them to enter the country legally because they are predominantly uneducated and can add little value to the social and economic growth of the U.S. So, they resort to an illegal way of entering the country of prosperity.

A few others blame the employers who hire these people for lower wages. They are indirectly helping these people to have a livelihood and settle down in this country. In keeping with their policy of staying away from slave labor and other forced forms of cheap labor, Americans are not comfortable with employers who hire these illegal immigrants for cheap. Such employers blur the distinction between illegal and legal immigrants and this undermines the efforts of legal immigrants who come here to make a living, pay taxes and contribute significantly to the growth of the country.

Another problem is the inefficiency of the Congress that ignored this issue until recently. "The last major revision of immigration laws was in 1986. What happened to those provisions? Why were they never enforced or followed up on? Congress, and both Democratic and Republican administrations, should be ashamed at what they have created because of their own negligence." (American School Board Journal, August 2006, p.12).

All these reasons have increased illegal immigration and this puts a big strain on the society and the economy of the country.

Arizona Law

Arizona law has been the center of this raging debate. "The law, known locally as SB1070, was aimed at discouraging illegal immigrants from entering or remaining in the state. It coincided with economic anxiety and followed a number of high-profile crimes attributed to illegal immigrants and smuggling, though federal data suggest that crime is falling in Arizona, as it is nationally, despite a surge of immigration." (New York Times, July 29, 2010).

As per this law, the police officers can crackdown on the illegal immigrants in many ways. They were given the power to detain any person who is living without an authorization and ask him or her to prove the visa status. Also, this law makes it a crime not to carry immigration papers all the time. Any member of the public can sue Government institutions if there is a violation of these laws or if the member believes that the law was not enforced the right way.

This law is seen by people as an expression of frustration at the inability of the Federal Government to come up with an effective solution for this problem. Arizona is one of the border states that has been largely affected by the huge influx of illegal immigrants. In this period of economic problems, this is adding more problems. There is little chance for the illegal immigrants to find work and this can lead to crimes and violence. This law was passed to prevent these problems from occurring in the first place.

The downside to this law is that it gives power to the police officers to check every Hispanic. This, in turn, can make life difficult for those who came into the country legally and have a certain status in the society.

This law has stirred a lot of debate among the proponents and opponents of illegal immigration. According to the poll done by numbersUSA. org, more than 70% of voters in Arizona supported the bill and only 23% opposed it. Though 53% expressed concern that it would lead to racial profiling, the remaining 46% said that it doesn't matter as long as it makes the state a safe place to live. (NumbersUSA, 2010). This overwhelming majority of supporters in the state is due to the fact that the drug wars are spreading to the state and the human kidnappings to fund the drug war has also increased. (Davidson, April 24, 2010).

On the other hand, President Barack Obama has condemned the bill and he believes in giving amnesty and an opportunity to citizenship for the country's illegal immigrants. Many civil rights groups also believe that this would lead to racial profiling and civil right abuses. Some of the opponents even filed a lawsuit against the law and a federal judge blocked some of its toughest provisions, especially those related to police officers.

So, apart from the civil and ethical implications, is it legal for a state to pass such a law? According to New York Times (April 2010), this law is merely an re-enactment of the existing Federal laws. Chapter 8 and section 1304 and 1306 of the United States Code clearly states that aliens have to carry all documents related to their legal presence including the date of entry into the country, the kind of activities that the alien is engaged in, the length of time that he or she is expected to be in the U.S., the police and criminal record and any other document that is related to his or her stay in the country. Not having these documents is a federal crime and by enforcing this law, Arizona simply makes it a state crime as well. The article further says that a Supreme Court ruling in 1974 makes it legal for a state to enact laws that will discourage illegal immigration as long as it does not conflict with the federal laws. So, this law enacted by the Arizona Governor is legal and is well-within the established legal authority.

From the point-of-view of people living in Phoenix, this bill is essential to prevent the huge number of kidnappings that take place here every year. "Arizona is the ground zero of illegal immigration. Phoenix is the hub of human smuggling and the kidnapping capital of America, with more than 240 incidents reported in 2008. it's no surprise that Arizona's police associations favored the bill, along with 70% of Arizonans." (New York Times, April 2010, p.1)

Role of Federal Government

It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to fight against illegal immigration. They have a higher responsibility and more authority on this issue than the state or local Governments. They have to seal the border and increase the powers on Homeland Security to prevent the influx of the illegal immigrants through the long border spanning from California to Texas.

Unfortunately, very little is done by the Federal Government to curb this problem. According to (no date), the U.S. Government does not plan to end illegal immigration because it gains a lot from it. "In 21st-century America, it's an unspoken agreement between employer, the undocumented employee and the federal government:the employee provides acceptable ID that appears authentic, the employer asks no questions, and the U.S. government looks the other way." The Federal Government collects money in the form of fines from the companies employing illegal immigrants and this agreement has worked well for a long time. It is… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Illegal Immigrant Reform Controversy Involving Arizona.  (2010, December 6).  Retrieved April 4, 2020, from

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