Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Immigration Situation

  The immigration debate in the country has hit a flashpoint with the approval of a law making it a state crime to be in Arizona without legal permission and obligates authorities to check the paperwork of those they believe in the country illegally. Proponents of immigrant rights have threatened boycotts and legal action to determine if the new law is unconstitutional. Even the president has chimed in to say that the law is ‘misguided’. The action in Arizona was prompted by 40 years of no border control and a comprehensive immigration policy by both parties. I can recall at least 2 immigration reforms that consisted of forgiving the people who were already here but stern wagging of fingers amid proclamations that this would be the last time the country offered forgiveness(an article about this years version). Just as Iran and North Korea has learned that offers to negotiate away their nuclear capabilities get better as they acquire more nuclear capability, people are more willing to enter the country illegally in anticipation of the next period of forgiveness. Arizona lawmakers were galvanized into action by the murder of a local rancher on his property outside a border town. When the people feel they cannot count on the authorities for protection, they will act in what they perceive to be their immediate self-interest. I’ve always felt the Chernobyl disaster did more than anything else to break the Soviet Union’s hold on their enslaved states.

  Critics of the law say the provision of obligating authorities to check the paperwork on those believed to be in the country illegally will lead to racial profiling. I agree that will happen, despite the clauses in the laws that are supposed to prevent that. I’ll be more concerned when people don’t think it is worth the risk to come into this country illegally, but I don’t think it is a bad law. I would forget about whether the authorities believe someone is here illegally or not, just require authorities to question the paperwork of everyone they come in contact with. In Iowa, not only do I have to have automobile insurance, I must carry proof of that insurance in my car when I am driving. If the police give me a speeding ticket and I don’t have my insurance card, I am getting a hefty fine even if I have insurance. If the police checked the papers of everyone they came into contact with, any charges of racism could be easily proved.

  Breaking the law carries certain risks. When I was younger, many of my friends were drug dealers, petty thieves, or just plain criminals. We all knew the risks of getting caught and once caught, getting off with as little punishment as possible was of prime importance (It helped to be a minor). One of the risks of being in the country illegally is being found out and sent back. The argument that illegal immigrants do work that naturalized citizens wouldn’t do has lost a lot of its persuasive power in a recession where any job is a good job. After the INS had a raid at the Marshalltown meat packing plant, many families were broken up, many good people were deported, and there are many businesses in Marshalltown who claim to have financially suffered by the raid. But the plant also had to raise wages to attract workers and far from closing the plant, they have expanded it. I think that the people who claim that anyone who would support a law like this is racist don't understand the anxiety and anger of the people who are worried about the violence that visited the Arizona rancher coming to visit them next. These are people defending their self-interest just as the people who will be participating in the boycotts and protests will be defending their self-interest. I’m looking forward to seeing the effects of the proposed boycotts (One possible scenario). The segregation of buses in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1950’s was ended by a boycott when the bus companies decided they needed the business of the african-americans who weren’t riding the buses because they had to sit in the back and give up their seats to white people more than the white people who wouldn't ride the bus unless they got to sit in the front and demand seats. As the saying goes, “Money talks”.

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