Friday, April 30, 2010
Reflections on Arizona (part I)
Debates and protests have erupted across the nation regarding SB1070, Arizona's controversial immigration law. Before I continue I will state that after weighing the pros and cons of the law, I ultimately cannot support it. The biggest reasons being that not only does it pose a great risk of engendering racial profiling and harrasment of Latinos, it will prove to be a needlessly inefficient contentious means of addressing the border issues that Arizona faces. However, I strongly reject the claims of its opponents that racism and anti-immigrant sentiments are what compel 70% of Arizonans to support this law. Rather, I believe that it's a misguided attempt to address very real and very legitimate concerns. More than anything, Arizonans are deeply concerned that Mexico's very violent drug and war spill over the borders. And unfortunately drug trafficking and human trafficking have increasingly become intertwined. According to Latina.Com, which is hardly a right wing, anti-immigrant site:
"Phoenix, Arizona has recently received the dubious distinction of being named the kidnapping capital of the United States. Second only to Mexico City in the world in terms of rates of violent kidnappings, local officials have cautioned that Phoenix is caught in a dangerous and even deadly crime wave. Many blame the rise in violent crime on Mexico's drug cartels. With over 370 cases of kidnapping last year alone, the Phoenix authorities have been overwhelmed and are frustrated, "We're in the eye of the storm," Phoenix Police Chief Andy Anderson
told ABC News, "If it doesn't stop here, if we're not able to fix it here and get it turned around, it will go across the nation," he warned.
A 2007 report from the US Justice Department
In the population study of 55,322 illegal aliens (in Arizona), researchers found that they were arrested at least a total of 459,614 times, averaging about 8 arrests per illegal alien. Nearly all had more than 1 arrest. Thirty-eight percent (about 21,000) had between 2 and 5 arrests, 32 percent (about 18,000) had between 6 and 10 arrests, and 26 percent (about 15,000) had 11 or more arrests. Most of the arrests occurred after 1990. They were arrested for a total of about 700,000 criminal offenses, averaging about 13 offenses per illegal alien. ..Of those charged, 49% had previously been convicted of a felony: 20% of a drug offense; 18%, a violent offense; and 11%, other felony offenses.
What this means is that approximately 90% of undocumented immigrants in Arizona do not have serious criminal antecedents. The majority are good and hard working people, however a dangerous, criminal element that constitutes a minority of indocumented immigrants has wrecked havoc on Arizona and increased public apprehension about undocumented immigration. Even those who oppose this law have to admit that that the same porous frontier that allows benign immigrants to enter, permits drug traffickers and common criminals to infiltrate the United States. Several weeks ago, Robert Krentz who was known as "a good Samaritan who often helped injured illegal immigrants trying to cross the boiling desert border into Arizona" was "gunned down while tending to his ranch Saturday morning, and police suspect an illegal immigrant was to blame," because of tracks leading from the Mexican frontier. And just today (4-30-2010) a sheriff in Arizona was shot in the stomach with an AK-47 by suspected drug smugglers.
In order to persuade their fellow Arizonans and Americans that this law is misguided, it is essential that its opponents move beyond the trite and defamatory tactics of labelling its supports as "racist" and "anti-immigrant." They must acknowledge that however much they detest this law, most of its supporters are driven by legitimate concerns of the rising crime and lawlessness. And rather than obstruct all efforts at controlling undocumented immigration, they must work work together with their opponents to first controls the border and then then to craft more humane, intelligent interior enforcement measures that will not be so prone to racial profiling. Because, if progressives and pro-immigrants simply push for amnesty, unaccompanied by viable, reasonable enforcement measures, rising fears and frustrations will engender more bills like SB1070 in Arizona and throughout the nation.