You may have heard of the bill recently passed in Arizona which establishes increased penalties and enforcement capabilities involving illegal immigrants. The bill, Arizona Senate bill 1070, contains sweeping changes in policy, and has drawn much ire from liberal groups, up to and including the President himself. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney went so far as to call the mandate to show legal papers to prove legal status in this country bordering on "Nazism" (your papers, please).
Here is the bill in a nutshell...
"a law enforcement officer, without benefit of a warrant, may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that a person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States"
"...it is unlawful for a person who is unlawfully present in the United States to knowingly apply for work, solicit work in a public place, or perform work as an employee or independent contractor"
"...it is illegal to transport an illegal alien if they know or recklessly disregard this law"
"it is illegal to conceal, harbor or shield an alien from detection in any building or means of transportation..."
"...an employer shall not knowingly employ an illegal immigrant, and shall keep records of all immigrant workers status for a period of 3 years through the federal e-verify program..."
The bill also contains a very narrow definition of entrapment on the part of law enforcement agencies, especially if the employer is "predisposed to hire such labor." It establishes strict fines, criminal penalties, and allows for the confiscation of motor vehicles in the case of blatant disregard for the laws. It also allows people to sue their local or state government agencies if they believe the immigration laws are not being enforced.
Will this lead to massive sweeps of known places immigrants congregate, especially where they have been known to look for work? Yes. Will this result in some citizens being forced to show proof of citizenship merely as a result of their appearance or heritage (racial profiling)? Yes. Will it require everyone be able to provide proof of citizenship on demand of any law enforcement agent, even if they are not presently involved in criminal activity? Yes.
And so you would expect a bleeding heart liberal such as myself to be screaming bigotry and fervently against such a bill. Better sit down...I cannot. Yes, in Arizona,this bill will severely effect Hispanics. If passed elsewhere, in Florida it will effect Haitians, in New York, it will effect Puerto Ricans,and on and on.
The bottom line is, this is a great country, and if you want to enjoy immigrant status here, carrying papers to prove you are here illegally is not to much to ask. If you are an employer who frequently hires illegal immigrants, you should be held to the law. I am not crazy about law enforcement agents in sting operations trying to catch you, but the courts will protect you from overt entrapment.
This is merely a drastic step to protect its citizens from the unfortunate situations on our Mexican border....illegal drug smuggling, illegal immigrant smuggling, Mexican criminals seeking refuge here in the United States, illegal immigrants here to commit crimes in the United States, and illegal gun and weapon smuggling in the United States. Carried out correctly, this will be a small thing. Will law enforcement take this way too far? Possibly, but if enforced judiciously and to the letter of the law, it will be yet another tool to protect our borders and weed out the criminals in our society here illegally. I am holding my nose slightly, and I am biting my liberal, card carrying ACLU bent somewhat, but I am 60-40 in favor of this bill. Good Lord help me....but I am siding with the GOP on this one....and praying I will not hear stories of massive abuse of this law by bigoted law enforcement agencies.