April 23, 2010 will go down in history as the day the United States of America took a step back to an era prior to 1960’s Civil Rights, and into the days of Jim Crow; a dark era of open and legalized discrimination. Arizona, in a rather nefarious manner, attempted to address illegal immigration in its state by passing SB 1070, which was signed into law by Republican Governor, Jan Brewer. Though many are in support of the spirit of the law, the law shamefully goes too far and further tarnished the Republican Party’s legacy on civil rights and its adherence to the liberties promised in the United States Constitution. Ultimately this is an attempt to once again divide the people in order to secure national gains for the minority party, the Republican Party.
Make no mistake the people of the United States are in full support of enforcing the federal immigration laws that are on the books, and if enforced the illegal immigration problem would be significantly curtailed. However, the federal government is fettered by states’ lack the political will to do their share of enforcement. What! Consider the number one reason for emigrating to the United States: economic opportunity and a higher standard of living. This reason far outweighs any other reason for coming to the United States.
The fact of the matter is that Americans are not being honest with themselves. When all is said and done, it’s Americans and American companies that are employing illegal immigrants and creating the environment for illegal immigrants to thrive. How so? By providing a means for illegal immigrants to make a living, and in some cases tax free; employment allows illegal immigrants to earn enough to relocate their families into the United States illegally, further perpetuating the problem. Once families are relocated, like any family, new members are brought into the world on US soil, complicating the situation and making it much harder for those families to be removed; a secret every illegal immigrant knows to be true.
Why have the states failed the American people? Take the case of convicted felons. Most employers, if not all, require an application to acquire a job; and in these applications there are provisions that require the disclosure of the applicant’s social security number, criminal record, employment history, personal references, educational history, and in some cases credit history. Upon employment, the applicants must present a driver’s license and social security card before being able to legally work in the United States. The employer, as required by the state, must check the validity of the information provided by the applicant through various means, often including but not limited to the Social Security Administration, Department of Law Enforcement, and such. The employer can also verify educational and work records. These background checks are not unfamiliar to United States citizens. If applicants were to misrepresent the truth, it is during this verification process they are caught. How stringent these employment checks are, rests mostly on the shoulders of the state with the federal government establishing a baseline.
Returning to the case of convicted felons, it is widely known that convicted felons have a tough time finding employment even when they misrepresent the truth on their applications, largely because the background check reveals the truth about their criminal record. Some states even go further to make sure convicted felons are banned from working in certain places. Companies together with state legislatures make sure, for example, convicted sex offenders cannot work in places that houses or interact with children; banks push to make legal, the practice of keeping former bank robbers, thieves, fraudsters and even individuals with poor credit scores from being employed. These practices have the effect of law. So where is the gall for illegal labor?
If Arizona meant business, they would implement, rather reinforce and strengthen laws that allow code enforcement and compliance officers to randomly search and check businesses, their employment records, employees and such. Rather than harass and violate the rights of individuals in the state, the state is well within its rights to ensure companies are complying with state and federal laws. It is no secret where most illegal immigrants are employed. Most citizens and residents of Arizona know who are the employers of illegal immigrants, and they are well aware of the industries that are most culpable. Though border crossing amounts to a small portion of the means of getting into the United States on the larger scheme of things, it seems this is what Arizona wanted to address. Nevertheless illegal immigrants are not, for the most part, coming over to the United States to hangout and leech public services; they are coming to work.
Just like restaurants have inspectors that randomly show up to ensure the food safety practices are being followed, and code enforcement keeps an eye on your property to ensure you are not modifying your home in violation of city codes, so can these individuals ensure businesses are complying with state and federal employment practices. Moreover, there are laws that protect whistleblowers when employees report violations of state and or federal employment laws, some even have rewards. Where were those rewards and protections upped in the SB 1070? And given, the information provided in an application an employer has plenty opportunity to verify the identity of the people they employ. If this were not true, there would be an epidemic of felons being employed in places they are supposedly banned.
Therefore, the State of Arizona has hoodwinked their citizens into believing they are truly sincere about stemming illegal immigration. Rather, Arizona is attempting to politicize a hot-button issue in order to make their citizens choose sides, dividing the people, keeping them from uniting against the real culprits in the immigration debate, the politicians themselves and businesses, especially agri-business and the service industry. One must ask, why now? The situation in Arizona has not deteriorated dramatically enough to warrant such a response. Where were the town halls and the public debate of this law, as was demanded for other, less intrusive legislation? This law was ushered in at an opportune time, just before the mid-term elections. Why wasn’t this law considered when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was running for president (both times), or during the Bush Administration, when republicans ruled the White House and Congress? Why?