A public and logistical nightmare
Opinion By Judit Trunkos
Aside from the oil spill in the Gulf, this weekâ€™s major domestic issue was Arizonaâ€™s new immigration law, which allows state police officers to require immigrants â€“or anyone who looks like Hispanic immigrantsâ€”to show proof of legal status. Latinos make up around 30 percent of Arizonaâ€™s legal population, which puts the grand scale of the new law in perspective, both from the standpoint of enforcement and the number of potential cases of racial profiling.
Arizona lawmakers, responding to international outcry, tweaked the language of the bill last week to only require police to question suspects who have been stopped or detained, rather than essentially questioning Latinos on sight. Opponents of the bill have said the changes to the bill are merely cosmetic and donâ€™t treat the fundamental problems with the legislation.
There are many issues with the Arizona immigration bill, which could result in a complete nightmare for legal immigrants. The most unrealistic requirement of this law is to require proof of citizenship or legal status to be carried at all times in the state. Unless the legislatures of Arizona realizes that this law will create more problems than results in the restriction of illegal immigration, all immigrants will have to carry their passport with their visa in it, or their U.S. birth certificate, increasing the possibility of loss or theft.
States bordering Mexico have a traditionally high percentage of Mexican immigrants so the controversial issue of stopping illegal immigration has been a high priority. This is why the previous governors of these border states created meticulous requirements for immigrants to obtain driverâ€™s licenses. This strict system ensures that only immigrants with legal status can have valid driverâ€™s licenses and requires that they renew the license frequently to double-check continuous legal status. This system works. There is no need for Arizona to ask for more documentation, such as a birth certificate or a passport and no need to ask citizens and legal immigrants to carry crucially important documents with them to the grocery store and the gym.
In South Carolina, for example, the DMV has already implemented strict examination of documents for all immigrants; therefore, there is no need to burden law enforcement with additional duties. Currently illegal immigrants simply cannot have a SC driverâ€™s license.
Instead of making it difficult for everyone, state by state, the federal government should come up with a comprehensive immigration law helping those who are already in the country and encouraging those who legally seek immigration here. By applying for a temporary or seasonal agricultural work visa, for instance, Mexican workers would have the opportunity to be here legally, therefore be registered by immigration offices and receive a taxable salary.
As long as a high percentage of the visas are denied, the desperate workers will make the jump over the fence. Building a higher fence is not the solution. Reforming the immigration system is. By making legal immigration a working way to enter legally, immigrants will chose it over risking deportation.