More than two-thirds of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll favor Arizona’s new immigration law, which makes illegal immigration criminal by defining it as trespassing.
Citing the lack of federal action, supporters said the law is needed to stop the flow of illegal immigrants. Critics contend it will open the door to racial profiling. The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police opposed the bill, saying the law would make it more difficult for police to carry out their other duties.
Among other provisions, the law requires law enforcement officers to “reasonably attempt” to determine the immigration status of a person involved in a “lawful stop, detention or arrest.” An alien in Arizona who fails to carry immigration papers required by federal law can be charged with a state misdemeanor. The law also allows Arizona residents to sue state and local agencies for non-compliance.
The law was amended last week to counter concerns about racial profiling; it now says prosecutors shall not investigate complaints “based on race, color or national origin.”
Some 43 percent of respondents say stronger enforcement of current immigration laws, including deportation of illegal aliens, should be a priority for national immigration policy. Sixteen percent say establishing a path to legal status for illegal aliens should be the priority, while 42 percent favor prioritizing both equally.
Roughly 960 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted May 3 and 4.
Do you support or oppose the new Arizona immigration law?
In your view, which of the following should be the priority for national immigration policy?
Stronger enforcement of current immigration laws, including deportation of illegal aliens: 43%
Establishing a path to legal status for illegal aliens: 16%
Both equally: 42%
I strongly support Arizona defending itself in the absence of the feds upholding laws already on the books.
Infringing upon the rights of those of us who are here legally to find a few who haven’t immigrated yet is a disgusting abomination and perversion of the Constitution. As a wise man once said, “It is better to let 10 guilty men go free than let one innocent man be convicted.” This is the freedom that thousands of men and women have fought for, in every war waged by the United States since the Revolutionary War–and if this law persists, and serves as an example for other states, their efforts will be for naught.
Where has common sense gone? How could you oppose a bill that simply states that current law will be enforced? The opposition wants to turn this into an issue about race–but that is not at all the case. If millions of Canadians were flooding into the border states illegally, we should deal with the problem exactly the same way. We are all immigrants here, and no one with good sense opposes legal immigration. We should make it easier for anyone who wants to accomplish the American dream to come here with less red tape and acquire citizenship more quickly. We don’t have to sacrifice the legitimacy of our borders and our sovereignty to meet that end.
I have never understood why this debate is so difficult. You are either in the United States legally or illegally–period. Why don’t we just uphold the law that is already on the books so that states such as Arizona don’t need to do it themselves? I think people hide behind “racial profiling” to skirt the issue. We need to either enforce our immigration laws or revamp them. Until then, we should uphold the law and trust our law enforcement officers to do their job impartially. I think they can, and I think they do.
If the feds can’t support the laws, I guess the border states better start before they’re totally run over.
This country was founded and strengthened by immigrants, and still can be. But everyone needs to follow the laws and pay their taxes. Once they are Americans, give back to the Land of the Free instead of taking from those who work.
The Arizona law mimics the federal law. It simply requires a police officer, in the course of his normal duties, to enforce existing law. If the law is wrong, then change the law; don’t selectively require enforcement.
–M. Pell, Rochester
I believe we need to work harder at finding a way to accept hard-working and patriotic aliens who desire to be U.S. citizens, especially family members who are separated from immediate family already living in the U.S. Once here in the U.S., lawbreakers should be deported with no right to return.
–Ed Schlueter, president, Medgraph Inc.
This law is the result of pure xenophobia! Who is next? The law requires immigrants to carry status documentation. Does that not mean that citizens must also provide proof of their status when they are stopped? Is this the beginning of a requirement that all residents, citizens and aliens, carry ID papers? We are relinquishing our rights to paranoia and fearmongers. It is time to demonstrate that we value our precious rights. Start by boycotting business and travel in Arizona!
It is amazing how quickly America has forgotten where it came from. After just over 200 years of “nationhood,” several spoiled generations no longer realize that they are on this beautiful continent only because of immigrants. The indigenous persons of “America” are the ones who had bad immigration laws. What is proposed is simply a crime against humanity. Apparently, the “Land of Opportunity” is only for those who are already here. Shame on any citizen or politician who would even consider such legislation.
If, by stronger enforcement of current immigration laws, you mean policing those who hire and often exploit undocumented immigrants, then I support it. Deportation is a part of it, but the main issue is removing the attractant, namely, the jobs that the immigrants are taking. I think we, as a nation, should face the facts that the problems of border states and illegal immigration are largely of our own making. We send weapons to Mexico, we consume lots of drugs that are imported through Mexico and we have lots of employers who would rather hire an undocumented person because he/she is easier to exploit and pay a substandard wage. In this light, the Arizona law reflects scapegoating–as we know, scapegoating is displacement and never solves the real issues.
–Richard A. Holub, Ph. D.
Wow! They stepped up to the plate and decided to “criminalize” something that is illegal. God help us if they decide to start fining businesses that employ immigrants. Oh right, I forgot a word in there: “illegal.” We already have a “path to legal status.” Start the paperwork and get here legally through naturalization. The United State takes in more legal immigrants each year than all other countries combined. Otherwise accept that you are breaking the law.
–Deven Michaels, Chili
I strongly support any measure to enforce our current immigration laws and to find and deport any illegal alien. If the federal government is too timid to do this and the states are willing to step up to the plate, then let them have at it. This also includes the finding and legally processing any criminal aliens. Now with that said, I recognize that there are some illegal aliens in this country who are contributing to our society and trying to be responsible and self-supporting individuals. For these people, then let’s find a way to put them on the path to citizenship. This policy has both pluses and minuses. First, it will serve to reduce the burden on our infrastructure, i.e. hospitals, clinics, non-profits, etc. Secondly, it may open up some lower-paying jobs for those citizens who cannot find jobs. The minuses are that many of these people are paying into our unemployment and workers comp. When they leave they will not be paying into it and cannot collect it also. On the whole, I believe we should play above-board and enforce our current laws. My father was an immigrant to the U.S. and before he could come, he had to have a sponsor. The sponsors’ obligation was to ensure that my father got a job and would not be a burden to society. That I like, as well as the background checks to keep out the criminals. Aliens can contribute to our society. Let’s get rid of the scofflaws and help the decent ones stay.
If you come to this country with the intent of overstaying your visa, or entering illegally, you should be subject to the laws currently on the books, which work fine if the judicial system had the balls to enforce it.
The problem with America today is we forgot what the word illegal means.
It is illegal, to be illegal.
–Bruce Basile, USA Mobility
It’s a complex issue, but the federal government said it would take it on, and they must.
Since 1875, we have had immigration laws. Our first priority is to stem the flow of illegal aliens at the border. Once we have that problem solved, we can deal with the problem of illegal aliens. President Reagan’s amnesty program begot more illegal aliens. After the Southern Border is under control we can adopt a policy similar to the Mexican policy on aliens. Then we can privatize the alien worker program, since the U.S. government has shown no ability to do it.
–Clifford Jacobson, WebHomeUSA.com
It’s not immigrants who are the problem; it’s the illegal immigrants. What part of illegal is hard to understand? The federal government is negligent and is not enforcing existing laws. This is not a hard one to sort out. The impact economically, socially, and legally is an unfair burden to taxpaying citizens. There are legal ways to pursue entry into the U.S. and all qualified are welcome. All others are illegal. Open the door to racial profiling? That’s the best counter argument to justify not upholding our laws and protecting the U.S. citizen? At some point in time, common sense has to prevail. It’s not the Irish illegally entering our country and milking it dry. It’s not the Polish crashing planes into buildings. It’s not the Italians planting car bombs. It’s not the Chinese who are suicide bombers. Let law enforcement do their job. That’s what we pay them for! Instead of calling it "racial profiling," I prefer "high-probability suspect."
There already is a path to gain U.S. citizenship, but it’s just too hard. Yeah, you actually have to understand English or have a legal advocate, things that the majority of illegals don’t have. And, talk about racial profiling, the saying that most Muslims aren’t terrorists but most terrorists are Muslims goes for this situation, too. Most Hispanics aren’t violent (drug-connected) criminals, but most violent drug-connected illegals are Hispanic. Let the critics propose a more effective way for the authorities to identify the illegals, and let’s go for it. In the meantime, quit all the crying about racial profiling and discrimination against people who are here illegally. What is it about the word ILLEGAL that is not being understood? Remember all those Europeans who stood for hours and hours at Ellis Island to face the authorities and be examined and questioned before they could set foot off the island? Don’t even TRY to tell me that that process was easy. Hey, Arizona, do what ‘ya gotta do!
What is most needed is a crackdown on employers that higher illegal immigrants. Once employers get the message and stop hiring illegal immigrants, the jobs will dry up, and the flow of illegal immigrants into the US will slow dramatically. Anyone who believes that all of the illegal immigrants can be rounded up and deported is living in a fantasy world. This would cost tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars and would strain the resources of law enforcement beyond heir capacity.
–David Belcher, LeRoy
The immigration issue is difficult because it throws out multiple challenges, each wrapped in strong emotions that defy rational problem solving. First, without piling on to the national debt, how do we protect our porous borders to keep the trespassers out? Second, what can we do–on a practical level–with the millions who already found their way in? And most importantly, how do we adjust immigration policy to welcome the right number of workers needed to maintain and grow our economy, from laborers to PhDs? We have made immigration so restrictive that we are essentially encouraging foreigners to enter the U.S. and/or stay here illegally. Are they resource-sucking parasites? Or are they enterprising private contractors helping to fuel the U.S. economic engine? Perhaps they are just average fellow humans motivated by the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families.
I support LEGAL immigration. Why should United States citizens who pay taxes support illegal aliens? There are laws in place that need to be enforced as well. How about the federal government be responsible for the security of its people and stop protecting illegals.
I thoroughly support legal immigration; have no problem upholding the law. Illegal border crossing isn’t about “human rights,” it’s about the behavior of someone deliberately violating our laws. We need and welcome legal and “work authorized” immigrants.
I am an immigrant, and brought an excellent university education and a willingness to do my best for the U.S.A as long as I live here. All immigrants who I know have the same attitude. We made great contributions to the economy, and made great efforts to educate our children well. We did not cause the recent Big Depression. Of course, there are rotten apples in the immigrant ranks that must be dealt with. I firmly support that illegal immigration be curtailed further and that the country face up that it would be poorer off without those that came here. The Arizona law could have been avoided if the joint Republican and Democrat effort under President Bush would have passed. It was sunk by the same Republicans who now scream and holler about the current immigration mess. It is a sad picture that the Republicans again torpedo immigration reform with filibusters. The Arizona law is a problem, not a solution. Let’s get this settled for the whole country.
–Ingo H. Leubner, Crystallization Consulting
The Left wants to frame the discussion of illegal immigration as a civil rights and racial issue. In my opinion it is a huge state and national public safety and financial cost issue. As such something needs to be done now and we can no longer wait on the inaction of Congress. Arizona’s law is only a natural extension of federal laws already on the books that are not enforced. Kudos to Arizona for attempting to do something! The Arizona law requires there to be some reason for asking for documentation of an individual’s status. Law enforcement officials cannot simply stop someone "for driving while brown" or they’ll be subject to lawsuits. From a public safety perspective we are all asked for identification when buying alcohol or boarding a plane. There is no probable cause for asking for my ID, other than to assure I am who I say I am and do not pose a threat to society. Likewise with illegal immigrants, why shouldn’t they (or anyone) be asked for IDs or documentation during traffic stops… If they can’t produce it, then they should be detained. The law requires you to have your license and insurance while driving. Failure to have it is a crime. Illegal immigration is a crime unto itself. It’s trespassing of the highest order. It’s a violation of property rights. If people came and camped out on your property, you’d have them lawfully removed. What’s the difference with illegal immigrants? They should be lawfully removed from the country.
–Keith B. Robinson, CFO Diamond Packaging
I support the law in the sense that it would seem to want to put some teeth into the current law that is on the books that is not too well enforced. I do not however support the idea of racially profiling and randomly stopping people who look different. It is important that people carry around proper identification and current law requires this. Bottom line is as a country we can’t continue to financially support those that are not here legally. We provide means for immigrants to gain legal entry and citizenship and these methods need to be followed. We are a country of immigrants, and we need to continue this tradition in an orderly and legal manner.
–Rob Blair, Hamlin
Where is the outrage from all the so-called tea partiers who are upset with overreaching government? We should not give the government the authority to harass people at will (just as we shouldn’t give the government the authority to execute its citizens–Frank Sterling is a perfect example). It’s hard to see this as something other than racism. If employers providing jobs to illegals had stiffer penalties (something more meaningful than a slap on the wrist), then there would be less incentive for illegals to enter the country. A temporary work program is needed for those that want to work here. The drug violence in border towns can no longer be tolerated either. Legalization of marijuana could be one step in curbing some of the violence. Apparently no lessons were learned from prohibition. When the tea partiers complain about overreaching government, where are they on personal liberties? The inconsistencies make it difficult to take such "outrage" seriously.
–Judy Palmieri, Rochester
I believe that active enforcement of current immigration laws coupled with closing the borders to prevent illegal immigration is the best policy. Also any new legislation from the current Congress with the word "comprehensive" should be defeated.
If George Will is correct when he writes “since 1952, federal law states ‘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," there are many, including Obama, who are ignorant of federal law and Arizona has every right to legislate when the federal government is not fulfilling their role.
Well enforcing existing federal law, and preventing illegal entry would obviate the need to enact laws on the state level. The Arizona law was intended to force the federal government to do its job. One thing it accomplished is that it refocused attention to the problem.
–Dennis Kiriazides, Xerox, retired
Why do we continue to look for new laws to "fix" lack of obedience to our existing laws? If a person is in this country illegally, that person should be jailed, tried and deported when found to be an illegal. If I tried to enter my family’s former German homeland illegally, I would probably end up in a German prison or be deported!
–Robert Zinnecker, Penfield
Illegal aliens are now almost 20 million strong and are sucking the life out of our country. Leftists are now openly saying that anyone who comes over (walks over) the Mexican border should be welcomed with open arms. American citizens are being murdered by illegal aliens that the federal government refuses to stop, either because they are looking for future votes or trying to find cheap labor. A path to legal status for illegals simply rewards the behavior and encourages more illegals. Without serious border control, no comprehensive immigration reform plan should be considered.
Although I vote to oppose the New Arizona immigration law, I do NOT oppose the intent of the law! A law of this magnitude should be instituted by the federal government for ALL states. The sooner the better!
–Joseph DePaolis, Penfield
The new Arizona law will increase violence and anger. Creating a streamlined path to legal status for illegal aliens should be the top priority. Deportation is not an option–the economy of Arizona depends on hard-working illegal aliens.
–Mary Lynn Vickers, owner, The Phantom Chef
Close the Arizona border and deport any trespassers who try to cross it. Use the National Guard if need be to do so. What to do with the illegals already here should be up to each individual state that harbors them. It is the states that give the federal government it’s power, not the other way around. The federal government should raise the allowed legal limit for new immigrants to a more meaningful number, but must enforce the long established laws that govern immigration. This is a country of laws and law-abiding citizens. Those unwilling to abide by the law do not belong here.
–George Thomas, Ogden
Money, goods, services and jobs flow back and forth across borders, but not people. For 100 years we have had restrictive immigration laws that provide little benefit to anyone. Overall we need additional workers and younger population. More work-based visas, a path to legal status for those people who have lived and worked here peacefully, and effective security are all important elements for a new immigration policy. We also need to treat immigrant workers equally with native-born workers, e.g. the New York State farm workers, predominantly immigrants, are oppressed by the current laws.
–Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results
These laws are a disgrace, based on protectionism, ethnophobic bigotry, and racism from their beginnings with Chinese exclusion laws in the late 1800s, through the anti-Catholic laws of the 1920s and others through the rest of the century. Today, cloaked in cowardly rhetoric of law enforcement, these hateful, exclusionary laws hurt our future. Think selfishly for a moment: With an ever-increasing ratio of elderly retirees to young wage earners, where will we get young people to tax for our Social Security? Who will clean our houses and harvest our crops cheaply? Who will provide the industrious, bright young students to workers and contributors to our future economy?
–Michael Leach, Rochester
Securing the borders is crucial, but extremely difficult and costly. We must implement high-tech, effective methods of border control or nothing else will work over the long term.