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Arizona Immigration Law, Cont.

No matter what you think of the question of illegal immigration, there's no denying that the Arizona immigration law will have a huge impact on legal resident Latino immigrants, naturalized citizens and even U.S. born Latino citizens (and, although the focus has been on Latinos, the same would go for Asian-Americans as well). In fact, U.S. born citizens and naturalized citizens are likely to feel the brunt of it most directly, because of two interlocking factors: (1) they possess the phenotype and accents that police will inevitably rely on in identifying illegal immigrants and (2) since they are actually citizens, and therefore secure in their presence here, they are not in the habit of carrying around papers that would prove their citizenship.This is what defenders of the Arizona law, who say that it is just an attempt to deal with illegal immigration by enforcing the law do not seem to understand. The burden of this enforcement is not just going to fall on illegal immigrants. Besides the actual illegal immigrants whose apprehension it will facilitate, the design of the law means that the burden it creates will fall exclusively on Latinos who are lawfully present in the United States. This is exactly how the law differs from a law that, say, would require everyone to prove his or her lawful immigration status in certain contexts (e.g., as when we are required to show our SS card when we begin new employment).And a recent episode confirms the fear that the law is designed specifically to maximize the zone in which these intrusive police interactions will occur. An email from Kris Korbach, a UMKC law professor who has been instrumental in shaping and defending the language of the Arizona law, confirms this. When lawmakers recently tinkered with the statute's language, ostensibly to limit the circumstances under which law enforcement would be required to demand papers, he sent an email to Russell Pearce, an Arizona State Senator involved in drafting the new language, asking him to be sure to do it in ways that would continue to give police officers the ability to selectively target certain groups (e.g., those who have cars on blocks in the their front yards and those living with lots of people in a single apartment) for immigration inquiries by making violation of local ordinances one of the contexts in which police would be obligated to ask for proof of immigration status when they developed a reasonable suspicion that someone was here illegally:

When we drop out "lawful contact" and replace it with "a stop, detention, or rest, in the enforcement a violation of any title or section of the Arizona code" we need to add "or any county or municipal ordinance." This will allow police to use violations of property codes (ie, cars on blocks in the yard) or rental codes (too many occupants of a rental accommodation) to initiate queries as well.

Korbach's email suggests that the point of the law is not just to empower the police to question the immigration status of people they happen to encounter in the course of their normal law-enforcement duties. That would be intrusive enough from the perspective of lawfully resident Latinos who find themselves in a situation of always being on the hook to prove their status. As Korbach's email makes clear, however, the goal is much more ambitious: to give local law enforcement the mandate -- and then use the other provisions of the law to pressure them to make use of it -- to affirmatively target certain populations for intrusive immigration inquiries.Interestingly, the very same group of people promoting the Arizona immigration law are generally (1) eager to avoid government intrusions on their "liberty" (e.g., the Real ID Act) and (2), as Frank Rich pointed out in his column this past Sunday, not satisfied by President Obama's own proof of his U.S. birth, notwithstanding his Hawaiian birth certificate. Why is that? Given the racially tinged rhetoric of the current immigration discussion in some quarters, you could forgive Latinos for thinking that this law might have to do with a bit more than just enforcing immigration laws and might, in fact, be tied up with larger racial and cultural anxieties animating certain segments of the American Right. (And, it should go without saying that if Obama's birth certificate is not evidence for these people that he is a natural born US citizen, heaven help the rest of us.)In light of all of this, this WSJ article, discussing the growing dissatisfaction with the GOP among conservative Latinos should come as no surprise. Here's the essence of it (but go read the whole thing):

Conservative Hispanic voters, in particular, say they feel betrayed by Republican Party leaders who have supported the law. .... "When the Arizona law was passed, it quickly became the single most important issue to all Latinos in Arizona and nationwide," said Matt Barreto, a political science professor at the University of Washington who studies Latino voting patterns. "Either party that pushes the issue too hard risks moving centrist voters in the other direction," said Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist and director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. Massey Villarreal, a Houston businessman and past national chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, an independent group with chapters nationwide, said, "It's insulting to have Republican leaders across the country applauding this racist law. I'm sure this is going to hurt the Republican Party."

This law is quickly becoming a litmus test for Latinos of all political stripes. So far, the GOP is failing it.

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Oh, the Republicans are bad! What a refreshing conclusion. I'm so glad that Catholics are able to offer such a bold witness! This will be sure to shake up the, oh there must be some Commonweal readers, who are not already convinced of the feclessness of the GOP.Let me know when you guys are interested in solutions instead of just taking shots are Republicans.

George Will was insisting that it had been the law for decades that non-citizen immigrants had to carry their papers on them at all times, completely missing the point that citizens will also have to carry their papers, since if they are suspected of being illegals and can't prove it on the spot, they get arrested.

Every preacher in the country should be asked his opinion on this and let him say it loud and clear. Tell me how in any way one can call herself a Christian supporting a law such as the Arizonal law.

So long as we don't find it a violation of civil rights to have to carry a driver's license or SS card for certain purposes, I really don't see why carrying proof of citizenship is such a big deal. My wallet is already too crammed with stuff, but if we had foreign drug rings threatening the peace severely here I'd be glad to carry such papers to help eliminate them.If carrying an extra piece of paper is all there is to it, I would expect Latinos not to object to what is essentially an inconvenience. But they object vociferously, so I wonder what the real problem is. I suspect that those who say it is just a way of allowing racist cops to harass and arrest "them" are right. If so, the racist police are the problem, not the papers or any intrinsic threat to civil liberty.Anyway, I expect it will be a simple matter for the bad guys to buy forged birth certificates, so the whole thing sounds pretty unenforceable to me.

I know, why not have everyone implanted with an electronic ID chip in their right hand! You know who would be the first to object to this solution -- and yet they might be the ones who are making it necessary in the future!

Ann,Not everyone has a driver's license or a Social Security card. What about children?

Bill Mazzella, et al: what in particular about this law do you find problematic, and why can't one be a Christian and support it?

If carrying an extra piece of paper is all there is to it, I would expect Latinos not to object to what is essentially an inconvenience. But they object vociferously, so I wonder what the real problem is.The real problem, of course, is that the law is racially discriminatory in its effect and motivated by pernicious racial stereotypes. As a result, every latino is automatically labelled a criminal suspect and burdened in ways that don't effect anglos. Also, it effects any minority group recognizable by phenotype, such as Chinese, Japanese, those from the middle east or of Indian descent. The point is, it feeds on the general paranoia about race under the phony pretext of stopping illegal immigration. Latinos are right to be angry.As to inconvenience, the Brennan Center says the following:Very few official documents actually establish citizenship: birth certificates, naturalization certificates, and passports are among the rare examples. Americans who have this paperwork do not usually carry it around with them. And many people store the documents with a family member or in a safe deposit box, far from a current residence. For other citizens, birth certificates simply do not exist. Those born on reservations or outside a hospital, for example, may never have been issued official birth documents. Victims of natural disasters, such as Katrina survivors, may have had their original birth certificates destroyed. ......Official citizenship documents are expensive and time-consuming to obtain. Even when it is possible to procure citizenship documents, it is an expensive and time-consuming process. A replacement birth certificate can exceed $40, and a passport costs $97. For naturalized Americans, replacement citizenship documents cost $220.What's more, none of this addresses the potential for gratuitous harassment and abuse when an anglo is detained for not having proof of citizenship -- not that I don't enjoy the fantasy of some gun totin' tea bagger being thrown in the clink.

Matt,Christians usually do not need the law since their conduct goes beyond the law in good deeds. Canon law is a creation of an empire church which has lost its way. Good learned people have learned the law to protect poor people from it.In particular to your question, Matt, the law in Arizona is specifically geared to Latinos. That is racial profiling, discriminatory and distinctly UnChristian. But if you asked the question it seems clear that you have not studied it sufficiently. Because, surely you would not be that inhumane to our Latino brothers and sisters. Or are the not your brothers and sisters?

I simply forgot all about my (Ohio) driver's license after I moved to Manhattan, and it expired without me giving it a thought. When it became absolutely necessary to have a driver's license to do things like fly, I got a New York State Non-Driver's License (which required me to get and provide a copy of my birth certificate). Later, I decided to get a passport, and I was told a driver's license was sufficient ID, but non a non-driver's license, even though the process for getting both is the same except for the driving test -- I even took the eye exam! I did manage to get a passport, but I had to provide all kinds of information and references, and then the came back to me for more information. It wasn't easy, and it took a few months.

Bill Mazzella, et al: what in particular about this law do you find problematic, and why cant one be a Christian and support it?The problem is that this law gives Az. officialdom a tool for abuse in new and novel ways. Keep in mind that any 'lawful' encounter becomes a pretext for citizenship verification -- where the test of lawfulness is determined afterwards at a trial. Why is it so hard to see that the law is, at best, an excuse for racism and at worst a way to harass and intimidate anyone regardless of race? Why is that so hard to see?

Working in Lower Manhattan, after 9/11 I could no longer get in office buildings without "official" i.d. Since I didn't drive, I had to carry my passport everywhere. I really resented having to carry my passport in my own country: as a little act of rebellion, I would sometimes show my Costco Card as i.d.; it actually got me into about half of the buildings. (I finally bit the bullet and got a NYS non-driver id so I could at least leave the passport at home). Worse, though, are the random bag checks. At my subway station, the police would "randomly" check bags and backpacks of people entering the station. In 9 years, I was never once searched. One of my colleagues, though, a twenty-something African American male, was checked about once a month for a few years. Not so random after all. Its extremely insulting to law-abiding people to be singled out that way.

In 9 years, I was never once searched. One of my colleagues, though, a twenty-something African American male, was checked about once a month for a few years.Irene,I wear a backpack, and I have never been searched in the subway. Until about three years ago, I rode the subway to and from work every weekday. I am white and in my 60s.

David --I don't understand your question to me, "What about children?" I don't see a distinct civil liberties problem there.Antonio --I agree. The ID program is for harassing Latinios. The bad guys will just forge ID. They can easily afford it.

"That is racial profiling, discriminatory and distinctly UnChristian."Since when is racial profiling UnChristian? That would mean that the Ruling Party's policy of the assassination of Muslin aliens and Muslim Americans without due process is UnChristian which cannot be accurate or else Notre Dame and the President's other Catholic acolytes would not have blessed the practice repeatedly.

I dont understand your question to me, What about children? I dont see a distinct civil liberties problem there.Ann,My intention was to raise the question of ow many children have driver's licenses or Social Security cards.

Since when is racial profiling UnChristian? That would mean that the Ruling Partys policy of the assassination of Muslin aliens and Muslim Americans without due process is UnChristian which cannot be accurate or else Notre Dame and the Presidents other Catholic acolytes would not have blessed the practice repeatedly.I am confident you can do a lot better than this, MAT. It's not even worth answering.

Oy vey!Proponents of the law should read ythe remarks of the Arizona and New Nexico bishops (who they usually stand firm behind) before they put on their white hats.While it's true many are unhappy with the lack of imigration reform, due, I think, to the failure of the virtual border fence and previously the ability of the hard right to stop imigration reform proposals in Congress, it's also clear that a broad swath of the latino community perceives this law (wirth the broad powers the thread maker points up) as discriminatory.Racial discrimination of any kind is unchristian! The comment cited by David underscores the tenacity of those who cling to the ideoplogical baggage dividing us!

David N, --I see children's ID as a non-issue because I can't see how the law is practical in the first place. ID is too easy to forge. True, new immigrants can't afford forged ID, but soon they will. The whole thing just looks dumb to me. It won't keep the bad guys out, and risks being unfair to the good guys. Arizona needs to work on their policemen and bigotry.

I do not like this new Arizona law at all but I think it is important to understand where the Arizonans, who by a wide majority like this law, are coming from.First of all, there have been Mexicans in Arizona for many decades, mainly without problems. And so I do not think Arizonans are worried about the guys mowing yards or painting house or whatever. Mexican indocumentados have been working in Arizona for many decades and I doubt if reasonable Arizonan Anglos just woke up one day and decided they did not like Arizona Latinos.It is worth noting that recently (by which I mean the last five years or so) there has been a large surge in drug trafficking, and Arizona has for whatever reason become a main drug corridor. Now I am not just talking about individuals nit wits hauling some marijuana (most of that is grown here nowadays anyway), but am instead referring to the more serious drugs like cocaine and heroin and the drug mafiosos who control that racket. The main kingpin of the Mexican narcotraficantes of course is none othe than old Chapo Guzman of the Sinaloan cartel, and he and his guys are very rough and brutal. They have in recent years run roughshod over Mexican authorities and have probably corrupted some American authorities as well; basically they have been running wild through Arizona for the last five years or so.The recent slaying of an Arizona rancher (they even killed his dog) could very well have been the last straw that drove the reasonable people of Arizona to enact such a law.And so while I do not like saying it (I am not a blame-America-first type of guy), in fact a large part of this is our own fault. If we Americans did not have such an insatiable appetite for illegal drugs, the narcotraficantes would not have so much business, places like Arizona would not have the serious problems they currently have, and they therfore would not feel the need to enact such a shortsighted law.Nationally we Americans have seen the beneficial effects that drug testing programs had on the electric and gas utilities and transportation industries (they began back in 1986 or 1987). Accordingly, I suggest we clean up our own (American) act and stop hollering at Jose as he trims the lawn. I suggest we institute very widespread drug-testing programs in the USA, beginning with all government workers and those who work for firms recieving federal money, all politicians, then adding those who work in banking, finance and lagal sectors, and eventually including even doctors and retail workers.I realize this sort of program would not be popular, but it would reduce the problem of Mexican and American drug mafiosos and in general, would improve Americans health and well being and would improve worker productivity. In short it would advance the common good of society. As a compromise to those who would tend to oppose such a large (federal in fact) drug-test program, while I do not like the idea, I would legalize regulated and restricted sale of marijuana; to adults only, regulated under ATF, licensed by local counties and municipalities, and as with tobacco, taxed by the individual states.The upshot is that it seems that this new Arizona law is more an attempt to stem the violence associated with drug trafficking than anything else. As such while it is understandable, it is nonetheless misguided. I do not see where harassing bunches of garden-variety indocumentados and their families, and harassing Latinos who in fact are American citizens serves any useful purpose. I worry that the result of all this will be that while the rest of us distract ourselves hiring lawyers to sue each other over this law, by bussing Mexican gardeners and other laborers back to Mexico, by arguing about presenting papers and who needs an ID card, by pointing fingers and hollering about who is a racist, and hopefully by ultimately discussing why we need an amnesty for decent, hard working indocumentados, etc., while we are doing all that, many individual Americans and Mexicans, along with their communities, will continue to suffer the bad effects of hard drug use, drug trafficking and the consequent violence, and the mafia guys will still be laughing all the way to the bank.

"I am confident you can do a lot better than this, MAT. Its not even worth answering."Your confidence is misplaced.

Ken has noted that this law doesn't necessarily arise from a hateful heart or a desire to harm Latinos simply because they are Latinos. In the culture wars, however, such distinctions are ignored. But Ken's point needs fuller attention. I am an Arizona native; and based on firsthand experience, the relationship between citizens and immigrants, and between citizens and illegal immigrants, in Arizona is more complex than many people outside of Arizona understand. There are bad people in Arizona who de-personalize and objectify those who simply seek a better life; however, there are plenty of Arizonans who exert compassion, and who aren't rushing to call law enforcement on anyone, but who are justifiably concerned about illegal immigration. But, as with the abortion issue, the immigration issue draws familiar battle lines and uncompromising rhetoric. In an above post, I simply asked people to clarify the source of their opposition to this bill and explain why, in the judgment of some, support for this bill is worthy of excommunication. And, as is evident, the mere asking of the question is treated as intolerable, at best a sign of ignorance, at worst, extreme insensitivity to the plight of others.

"And, as is evident, the mere asking of the question is treated as intolerable, at best a sign of ignorance, at worst, extreme insensitivity to the plight of others."Matt, you have to take some responsibility for your actions. Many perceptive people will ask that we turn a question into a statement since a question is often a concealed statement. You might have elaborated on your question rather than letting it dangle for a misinterpretation. This is why Jesus said let your responses be yea yea or no no. So all of us tend to obfuscate. It does not help when you want others to read your mind.

Bill and Matt I think it best if we start with the idea of giving each other the benefit of the doubt i.e., since we are Americans and since this is a Catholic blog, most probably we are God loving people, we ought not question each others motives.I often do not agree with folks on this blog, but I rarely doubt their motives and try to understand where they are coming from.I think some kindness and understanding regarding the problem in Arizona is worthwhile.Matt You asked why people dislike this law. I dislike it because it places a heavy burden on Latinos, both those here legally and the indocumentados. Now, I have to think that most people in Arizona are reasonable and I doubt that reasonable Arizonans intend to needlessly harass latinos, but in fact that is exactly what it seems this law will do.On the other hand:1 - I understand the federal government has not done its job of securing the border2 I understand there is a large and growing problem with drug trafficking in Arizona3 I understand that a large part of Arizonas business plan involves catering to snowbirds and retired folks, and that drug cartels and the violence and corruption associated with that simply will not do.However Arizona has a governor and has congressional representation.1 The national guard in each state is at the full disposal of the states governor. Arizonas governor could have simply sent the Arizona national guard to man the border. That would have helped the situation and also would have drawn the attention of the feds.2 Arizonas governor and congressional delegation could have begun discussion with other border states to develop a solution to the problem or a way to work around the laziness of the federal government.3 Arizona and the other border states might have explored the idea of suing the federal government over the matter.4 The governor might have told the federal government that Arizona will not participate in federal programs or she could have found other ways to tweak the nose of those in Washington enough so that they paid attention to the problems Arizona faces.The upshot is that there were and are other ways to approach this matter, but for reasons maybe only they understand, the good people of Arizona chose to approach it via this new law.As things stand, with this new law Arizona has in fact garnered the attention of the nation and of Washington D.C. and we will see what happens next.Now in addition to praying, we all must have trust in the good character and judgement of the typical, reasonable Arizonan.

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About the Author

Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.