May 13, 2010
You may have heard that Arizona recently passed an immigration law.* Its critics claim several objections; according to them, among other things:
1—A state has no business dealing with the immigration problem; that’s for the federal government.
(The federal government has chosen not to enforce the border, and that should be the end of that!)
2—Every particular way you propose to find out who is in the country illegally is offensive and unacceptable, but of course I support the general proposition that the border should be enforced, in the abstract.
3—It’s beautiful that other cultures are flourishing in America and not being eroded by assimilation; at the same time, anyone who points out this failure to assimilate is a baseless fearmonger.
Among other things, the law allows a policeman who has already stopped someone (say, for speeding), if the policeman has special reason to believe that the person is in the country illegally, to ask him to show that he is here legally. Among other things, the law makes it a state crime, a misdemeanor, for a legal immigrant to fail to carry identification with him. (If he didn’t have to carry ID, how could he show the police that he’s here legally?)
As soon as the law was passed, a liberal friend started assuring me that this is like Nazis’ making Jews carry identification papers with them everywhere, or making them wear Star of David badges. (Never mind that being identified as Jewish in Nazi Germany resulted in losing one’s property and eventually being tortured and killed, while the result of being identified as an illegal immigrant to this country results in being deported, to enter illegally another day.) One problem with liberal commentators’ acting so outraged is that it has already been a crime (a misdemeanor), under federal law, for a legal immigrant to fail to carry identification, apparently since the 1940s: Under 8 USC (United States Code) 1304, “Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him . . . . Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.”
Nonetheless, criticism of the law goes all the way up to the president of the United States, who thinks the law is not “fair” (“recent efforts in Arizona . . . threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness”), and who has hinted that he wants his Justice Department to interfere with Arizona’s enforcement of the new law. Others have been more blunt, basically saying that the law is motivated by racism and will result in racial profiling by police.
Depending on what profiling means, I don’t think it’s even necessarily a bad idea. In Israel, where terrorists regularly threaten the lives of citizens and the very existence of the Jewish state, Israelis don’t have the luxury of “political correctness”; profiling is simply accepted, because it works. In America, an experienced policeman explains that policemen will almost certainly enforce the new Arizona law by means of what you might call non-racial profiling. (Another, former policeman also offers his thoughts on the matter.)
In any case, for whatever it’s worth, the governor of Arizona doesn’t think the law will lead to racial profiling. When she signed the law, she made a statement explaining why the law was necessary, in which she also said, “My signature today represents my steadfast support for enforcing the law — both AGAINST illegal immigration AND against racial profiling.”
Even Mexican president Felipe Calderón has joined the chorus of criticism, saying that the Arizona law
“criminal[izes] immigration . . . open[ing] the door to intolerance, hate, and discrimination,” but Michelle Malkin points out a clear double standard: As far as President Calderón and American liberals are concerned, Mexico can be ruthless with illegal immigrants from its neighbors to the south, but it’s basically illegitimate for America to make any effort to maintain her own national borders.
Liberals who want to argue that the law is essentially racist have another problem: The Arizona legislature and governorship weren’t highjacked by some lunatic-fringe group of racists; on the contrary, their actions are supported by overwhelming majorities of the electorate. According to Rasmussen, 64–70% of Arizona voters support the new law.
So does the rest of the country. The Pew Research Center finds that 73% of Americans support requiring people to produce identification to prove they’re here legally, and that 59% of Americans support the Arizona law overall. (You can’t get 70% of Americans to agree on anything in politics. You can’t get 70% of Americans to agree that price controls are a bad idea.) A New York Times-CBS poll found about the same, a total of 60% support for the law—51% calling the law “about right”, and 9% saying that it “doesn’t go far enough”. A Fox News poll “finds 61 percent of voters nationally think Arizona was right to take action instead of waiting for the federal government to do something on immigration.” Gallup claims that 51% of Americans who have heard of the law support it. Another poll shows strong majorities of Americans supporting various provisions in the law.
You may recall that some Muslim countries tried boycotting products from Denmark to protest the Danish cartoons; others called for a countervailing “buy Danish” campaign (which, incidentally, apparently enjoyed some success). More and less comically (“Arizona Rep. Calls for ‘Targeted’ Boycott of Own State“; see also, e.g., here and Mark Steyn, below), some are now calling for a boycott of Arizona (which is not unprecedented, as it turns out—see Jay Nordlinger, below); thus, Laura Ingraham calls for a similar buy-Arizonan anti-boycott, and helpfully points us to two listings of Arizona businesses: Bizhwy, which breaks them down into categories (such as Merchandise and Retail) and subcategories, and Shop by State, which features categories and also a search option. I also recommend Etsy.com, through which I just bought some hand-made works from independent Arizonan artisans.
For further reading, if one were so inclined:
Mark Steyn, as usual, is must-read material.
Meanwhile, Jay Nordlinger meditates on Arizona’s larger culture and history.
Michelle Malkin rounds up some photographs and video of people protesting the new law.