Two years after Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 was passed by state legislators, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed down a decision which appears to please everyone, at least in one way or another. Governor Jan Brewer declared, “Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for the rule of law.” On the other hand, opponents of the controversial bill are also claiming victory. Arizona State Sen. Steve Gallardo (D) claimed, “It’s a big victory for those that have continually said that Jan Brewer and the legislature is wrong.”
One thing is for sure, the discussion surrounding immigration will continue to be heated for years to come. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision did reject three parts of the Arizona state law that were ruled to be in conflict with federal law. However, the so-called “papers, please” clause in the law was upheld, allowing local law enforcement to check the immigration status of a suspect who has been stopped or detained for other offenses. Opponents claim this will open the door to racial profiling, and admittedly that may very well happen. However, the law is a step forward for gathering information relating to illegal immigration.
SB 1070 is not an anti-immigration law! This should be recognized by opponents as well as proponents. This law is meant to address ILLEGAL immigration, NOT all immigrants. Our borders would not need expensive fences if we actually reformed and enforced our immigration laws in a fair manner. There are rules in place for those who wish to come to this country legally. It is not fair to those who follow these rules to watch illegals move in and remain in the country for decades without consequence. This is not possible in most other countries.
Having lived and traveled throughout Europe and South America, I was required at all times to have “my papers,” proving my legal status to be in the country. Even as an American, I was required to get and update necessary visas. I was required by law to present my visa, passport, ID, etc. when asked. In Germany, everyone (citizens included) is required to register his or her place of residence every time he or she moves. Employment, voter registration, taxes, school registration … and the list goes on… all require proof of residency, which would also provide proof of citizenship. You cannot get a job, attend school, open a bank account, or really live a normal life without your “papers.”
Can such “papers, please” policies be discriminatory? Sure. As a white, freckled faced American of German descent living in Germany, I was not often asked for my papers walking down the street. But when hanging around my friends of different nationalities, we were often stopped as a group and asked to hand over our papers. As students we never had any problems, and while it made us 10-15 minutes late to wherever we were headed, we were never treated with disrespect as long as we could prove we were legal. No one felt violated, since they all have similar rules in their countries for immigrants. So why can’t we figure out a means to say it is not OK to be illegal in the U.S.?
I also find it ironic that while the Supreme Court upheld the “papers, please” portion of SB 1070, just days later it denied Arizona’s Prop 200, passed by voters in 2004, that would require proof of citizenship in order to vote.
One thing all sides can agree on is that the immigration system in the U.S. is dysfunctional and is not doing its job properly. While there are many ideas being thrown into the discussion on how to fix the system, no one really wants to go farther and address issues that would go to the root of the problem (worldwide poverty and oppressive governments). Instead, many Americans reluctantly accept the system as it is, saying it cannot or should not be fixed until the perfect solution can be found (which isn’t going to happen). Perhaps it is our fear of a situation that could be even worse (such as with SB 1070 turning into racial profiling). Instead, we uphold what is broken; that way we will at least have the certainty of knowing that it is not working.
Back to legal immigration. My husband is a legal immigrant to the U.S., so I have been through the process first hand. Yes, it costs money and it takes a long time. Not everyone can afford it, but the American taxpayers should not be made to pay for my husband, nor should they have to pay for any person’s decision to come to America.