AZ’s Immigration Law is Only ‘Harsh’ if You’ve Never Lived Abroad


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Last week’s big PNU conference on multiculturalism in Korea got me thinking about the new Arizona immigration law that allows police to demand valid identity paper on reasonable suspicion.

As with so many other debates in the US, the new one on Arizona’s ‘racist’ immigration law is ridiculously uniformed by practice in other places. Usually this iconic American ignorance of the rest of the world rebounds to the disadvantage of the US Right. Conservatives, absolutely bedazzled by American exceptionalism, refuse to see how Bushism alienated the world and forced Americans travelling to say they were from Canada. But on illegal immigration, it is really the US Left that is benighted, willfully refusing to see the rule of law problem of 10-20 million undocumented people running about. For example, Chait will tell you how your concern for about unlawful migration is really just racism. How cynically, smugly condescending of the race-obsessed American Left to share its moralism with you racists thinking about law and documentation.

I have lived in other countries for 6 years and counting (about 1/6 of my life), and I simply accept it as routine that I can be stopped by the police and demanded for ID. In Germany, I had to have my ID card at all times; in Russia, I had to carry my passport at all times (rather risky, that). In Korea, I must carry my alien ID card at all times too. I do, and I certainly don’t howl and complain about it. I get asked for it, as well as a copy of my visa, all the time – in hospitals, on the internet, by government officials, cops, etc. Since when did non-citizens carrying proper ID become ‘racist tyranny’? Do US liberals really believe that? Do we really want 15 million illegals running around the US without documentation?

I went through the legal immigration process; let them do it too. Yes, it is a pain. Yes, I pay the Korean government a lot of money for some silly stamps, and I wait forever in some stuffy room for a bored bureaucrat to glare at me. But it’s not ‘orwellian racial profiling.’ Come on already. You’re a guest in someone else’s house. You know the rules are going to be a little tougher. And you should accept that, because you choose to go there. That is their system. You must respect it; you can always leave.

Ultimately, immigrants are guests, and it is our responsibility to follow our hosts’ rules. If you don’t like those rules you – a guest – don’t have the moral standing to criticize. We immigrants take what the residents dish out. It’s their system to set, not ours. And it is extraordinary bad faith to name-call our hosts racists. That is offensive to very people we want to allow us in the door. It’s both stupid and rude.

If you think the US rules are burdensome or racist, try living in Asia or Europe! Dual citizenship is nearly impossible. The Korean government makes me renew my visa every year – even though I am long-term employed resident foreigner with property, education, and all that. They make money off the foreigner population by requiring annual visa renewals, but it is also a way to check up on us that we aren’t screwing around too much.

So where in god’s name did ILLEGAL immigrants in the US get the gumption to expect they shouldn’t have to demonstrate who they are to the lawful authorities? If anything the moral posture should be reversed. Illegal immigrants should bend over backward in thankfulness that Americans are so tolerant they even look the other way on rampant illegality. If I were a publicly known illegal immigrant in SK, I would last about 5 minutes before being shoved onto a plane. If that constitutes ‘racism’ and a ‘police state,’ then you can understand why the Tea Party movement hates the government. By law the government is supposed to deport illegal immigrants. Illegal immigration is a misdemeanor, and repeated attempts are a felony. Yet 15 million people function everyday outside the basic rule of law. That is not ‘victory against racism;’ it is a massive failure of the US justice system.

The heart of the US Left’s critique of Bush – which I accept – is that he violated the rule of law with torture. But that means the Left, and America’s Hispanics, must acknowledge the same on this question. If you want different immigration laws, then change them through the policy process. But the current regime of ‘purposive unenforcement’ is incompatible with political order.

I shudder to say it, but the US Right is correct on this one.

22 thoughts on “AZ’s Immigration Law is Only ‘Harsh’ if You’ve Never Lived Abroad

  1. I agree. Can you imagine illegal Francophone African immigrants demanding to stay in France? They wouldn’t last two seconds.

  2. I can’t believe that the Mexican President lectured us on Arizona State law today. Look at Mexico! I can see his point though. He is the leader of a failed/narco terrorist state, the less people that he has to deal with, the better it is for him.

    Would the Chinese politburo let President Obama lecture them on human rights in their Great Hall?

    Whose country is this? Europe would NEVER behave is this manner.

    Why would the democrats and the currents adminsitration allow the Mexican President to diss a US State in a joint session? Especially with elections in a few months. I don’t get this logic.

  3. I think that the Mexican President has just galvinized the TeaParty even more than it was. The movement was imploding somewhat, but now Caldaron has probably breathed new life into it.

    This was a bone-headed move. Most legal immigrants who have waited in line and done it right (regardless if they are hispanic or not) will not side with Caldoron.

  4. Bob, I think you’re completely missing the point here. Although I’m sure some have criticized this law from the position of the rights of illegal immigrants, virtually all of the criticism I’m familiar with concerns potential rights violations of legal Hispanic residents and US citizens, who will also be forced to show their papers if they’re suspected by some bubba cop of being a potential furrener.

    In other words, if you’re a brown legal resident or US citizen with a latin accent, carry your papers all the time. THAT’s the objection. Not, as far as I know, anything you’ve mentioned here.

  5. Dr. Bob:

    When I was a US immigrant long ago back in the 1990s up until the early 2000s, I had to carry my Green Card. It was US law back then too. In fact it was Federal LAW that I carried my green card (and still IS). Even more, under US Immigration Law when a resident immigrant switches residences they have to NOTIFY US Immigration. The problem in this country is that so many people are ignorant of US Immigration Law. In fact this law was Janet Napolitano’s law that she begun and never had the time to implement.

    I was proud to produce my Green Card when-ever I was asked. It made me feel that I BELONGED in the US. In fact whenever I did, my inquisitors were pleased. They asked me where I was from. I got to explain the history of my then country to them. Furthermore, they were even more excited than me when they inquired as to when I was going to become a US citizen.

    On the other hand, let’s take France for example. In France, the French police just come up to Africans and say “Ou sont tes papiers!”

  6. Dr. Bob:

    Plus, I don’t see what the argument is. I have lived in many countries (as have you) and in every country that I lived in I had to carry my papers on me. It was required. Especially when I lived in Europe (for brown people anyway). Dr. Bob is correct, in the US, although it is Federal Law for immigrants to carry their papers on them, our system is very lax. Local police generally defer to the feds who have more important issues to deal with. So the law is not enforced. In Arizona’s case the issue is more pressing because the Mexican Narco War has spilled across their border with Mexico big time. Arizona is the kidnapping capital of the US at cause to this. What a disgrace. This is what prompted then Governor Janet Napolitano to initiate this process that has now been turned into law. Back then she was screaming at the Federal Government for not enforcing US Immigration law since the situation had become so dire.

    The problem is that illegal immigration makes it A LOT harder for legal immigrants by increasing the wait time and adding to the application fees. Legal immigrants wait in line for YEARS. Pay hefty application fees. For example, an immigrant has to pay a fee when they apply for their Green Card and then another fee when they apply for their citizenship. Generally there is a five year waiting period after one receives their Green Card before they are eligible to apply for citizenship. Think of it as a five year probationary period for the US to determine if this individual deserves to be a citizen. For example if the immigrant is a flagrant law breaker more than likely their application for citizenship will be denied (how will this rule be applied to illegal immigrants). They can still however remain in the US since they are a legal resident. Legal US immigrants must also undergo FBI criminal background check (by the way I agree with the process). The is the LEGAL way. I wish that Legal Immigrants had half as much help and advocates with the immigrantion process and illegals do.

    In addition, every LEGAL African Immigrant that I have met in the US carried their papers on himself/herself. Even my French friend who became a legal US resident was proud to carry his Green Card on his person.

    Finally, the procedure to become a US Citizens is probably one of the easiest in the free world. Try becoming a Swiss citizen.

    Are tourists visiting in Mexico required to carry their papers on them by Mexican Law?

  7. “Generally there is a five year waiting period after one receives their Green Card before they are eligible to apply for citizenship.”

    Sorry, I wrote this but it is misleading. One has to wait five years, unless married to a US citizen then its three. A new law has been passed that allows green card holders serving in the US military to have their wait period shorthened but this was not the case when I served (President Bush W. helped to pave the way for this change).

    Anyway back to my point, one has to wait their time to apply however, it takes least one year more for you application to be reviewed. Then you are given another date in the future for your interview and examinaiton. Sometimes you are sworn in on the spot (although I think that this practice doesn’t happen that often), but most, it seems are given another date in the future to be sworn in. Also on the day of your swearing, immigration runs another criminal background check on you. Once again, I agree with process. We are a country of laws. Can’t pick and choose which laws we want to follow.

  8. This is my last on this subject. Check this out. In 2005 the Supreme Court of the United States UNANIMOULSY decided that police officers can question someone’s immigration status while the person is under detention. The case was Muehler vs Menia, 2005.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-1423.ZS.html

    Here is an excerpt:
    “2. The officers’ questioning of Mena about her immigration status during her detention did not violate her Fourth Amendment rights. The Ninth Circuit’s holding to the contrary appears premised on the assumption that the officers were required to have independent reasonable suspicion in order to so question Mena. However, this Court has “held repeatedly that mere police questioning does not constitute a seizure.” Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 434. Because Mena’s initial detention was lawful and the Ninth Circuit did not hold that the detention was prolonged by the questioning, there was no additional seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and, therefore, no additional Fourth Amendment justification for inquiring about Mena’s immigration status was required. Cf. Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. ___ , ___ (slip op., at 2—4). Pp. 7—8.”

  9. Sorry, this will be my last on this subject. I just went on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website and this is what it states vis a vis green card holders:

    “If you are a permanent resident age 18 or older, you are required to have a valid green card in your possession at all times.”

    This is the LAW, and for good reason. What is the objection? This debate has been so polluted by political nonsense. No one has even taken the time to research this stuff. Takes a couple of clicks. I am amazed that all of the media experts on this subject don’t know diddly on the subject. Everyone is repeating the same fallacy. What is becoming of this country?

    There is no more debate, just emotion fueled junk from both extremes of the political spectrum.

  10. Well, quite obviously, if it’s already the law, and the objections with the Arizona law were all made in total ignorance of actual existing law, then that would be something, wouldn’t it? But as I said earlier, the actual objection is that local law enforcement is now empowered to demand papers of anybody hispanic-looking or -sounding, whether they’re citizens, green hard holders, or illegal aliens. The objection is based on the impact to citizens and legal residents, not on any perceived unfairness to illegal immigrants.

    • Tom, I agree. In fact, Bob’s own experience in India should have sensitized him to this aspect of the debate. He claimed he was “creeped out” when kids at one of the places he visited in southern India kept coming up to him and stared/touched him. Now turn those kids in law enforcement and the creepiness factor goes way up. Bring in covert/overt racism and you have real spiciness going for you.

      • My being white places me at a historical disadvantage when it comes to commenting on personal experiences of racism (ahem…). But, I imagine that if I were an Hispanic American citizen, I probably would not feel obligated to carry my papers with me every time I drove to the Piggly Wiggly for a jug of milk. And the prospect of being harassed by a probably-unqualified local cop who “suspects” me of not being American would be pretty troublesome to me.

        Arizona has a serious problem on its hand – not too many Hispanics obviously, but the federal government’s inability to maintain border control and the Mexican government’s inability to generate enough growth to provide jobs to Mexican citizens who want them. So I don’t doubt they have a big problem that may demand a dramatic solution, but I don’t think the solution they’ve come up with is reasonable.

        • Bob, it’s obvious the man wasn’t speaking for you, you’re smart enough to understand that. He made a simple and logical deduction based of a very clear sentiment expressed your own explanation of your experiences. Were you not “creeped out” by those children? Needless to say, the point was that being treated like an outsider is a lousy feeling, but giving the authorities a legal right to harass anyone on the street citizen or not is much worse. You make these comparisons to living in Germany and Korea knowing full well that America is in its 250th year of real democracy. We all remember Germany’s recent past, and teaching where you do, you know full well that S Korea was essentially totalitarian until the late 80’s.
          How you as an American can justify the United States treating its own people in the same way Nazi gestapo treated illegal jews is beyond me. It’s terrifying. I love that you failed to mention any reasons for illegal immigration or that despite their harsh rhetoric, republican lawmakers have done nothing in regard to punishing the businesses who hire those people and fuel the fire of illegal border crossings. Also, you say nothing of the ten or so high level Arizona police chiefs who vehemently oppose the law because it will take thousands of police hours deal with the slow processing and mountains of paperwork. Those are police hours NOT spent enforcing law and patrolling for actual criminals. They also fear the new law will polarize the police force itself and strain its relationship with the community.
          “It’s very divisive,” said John Harris, head of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, at a press conference after the meeting. “It puts Arizona law enforcement right in the middle. It makes it really difficult for us to police our communities.”
          (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/ynews_pl2268)
          Jeez Bob, at least try to sound like you care about the other side of the argument.

  11. In all actuality Arizona didn’t need this law, the US Supreme Court had already given them permission. This is the irony of this whole thing. Why aren’t people mad at the Supreme Court?

    Anyway, according to the Arizona law the police officer needs to have probably cause first. Cutting to the chase, this stuff is already done by law enforcement all over the US (one of those things). In fact, when some-one is arrested and taken to the city jail the local authorities also check out their citizenship status if they “suspect” that the individual is not a US citizen or resident. This is how many illegal Hispanics immigrants are picked up. Not that long ago the US Secret Service arrested some illegal immigrants (I think that they were Hispanic) who were visiting the White House under the current administration. They were just visiting the WH. Taking the tour, next thing they were handed over to US immigration for detention by the USSS.

    Arizona is a peculiar case because their border towns have become virtual wild west shoot-outs at cause to the Narco bs spilling over from Mexico (of course fueled by American drug consumption). Mexican drug gangs are roaming Arizona at will. Arizona had around 370 Narco kidnappings last year alone. This is insane. Can you imagine this happening in Ohio? 370 Kidnapping in Ohio? If that happened in DC this city would be on lock-down (and the very same US Congress would be demanding it). Whether democrats or republicans in office, the federal government needs to protect the territorial integrity of this nation. This is one of the Federal Government’s enumerated responsibilities.

    Also, I guarantee that the local law enforcement officers aren’t going to go buck wild in Arizona. Police officers have a very difficult job and I give them a lot of credit. They have more important things to do than just locking up Hispanic looking people. Can you imagine the paperwork that the officer would have to fill out for each arrest? Then do a federal transfer? Also, the possibility for law suits on them? Police Officers also have families and their children’s college tuition to worry about.

    I don’t think that this law will have an impact on legal US citizens or residents of Hispanic origin. I myself am profiled all the time by local law enforcement. Doesn’t bother me. I know that they are trying to keep my loved ones and I safe. They ask me a question I answer politely and move on.

    The way to best way handle this Arizona issue now would be via a combined/joint Federal/Local law enforcement task force since the issue is out of control. Janet Napolitano tried to get that sort of cooperation we she was governor and now a Republican Governor of Arizona has tried to get the same assistance from the Federal Government. She, the Republican Governor has now put to into action the former Democratic Governor’s initiative.

    Reminds me of the time when Ohio wanted to make the wearing of seat-belts mandatory. The objections was that the local aw enforcement officers would use this law to arrest African American citizens of Ohio. In DC, Maryland and Virginia, the wearing of seat-belts is mandatory and I don’t see police officers using that as reason to pull over African Americans.

    Lastly, I might have misunderstood the objection. I thought that reference to the objection was the fact that immigrants had to carry their papers on their person at all times.

  12. I have had the pleasure of meeting one illegal African immigrant. When I realized that he was illegal, the first thing that I told him was to get legal. Next, I showed him how. I put him in touch with the authorities. This young man is now a functioning tax-paying legal resident of the US.

    I love this country and I wanted him to understand that America will welcome him with open arms if he does it right.

  13. “In other words, if you’re a brown legal resident or US citizen with a latin accent, carry your papers all the time. THAT’s the objection. Not, as far as I know, anything you’ve mentioned here.”

  14. Pingback: More on Asian Multiculturalism: 5 Masters Theses to be Written « Asian Security & US Foreign Relations Blog

  15. Pingback: More on Asian Multiculturalism: 5 Masters Theses to be Written - clpl-india News

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