More troubling is the requirement that law enforcement officials attempt to determine the immigration status of anyone whom they reasonably suspect of being unlawfully present in the United States. On its face, this seems fair enough, but it conjures fears of police stopping people and demanding to see identity papers with little justification. But even here the criticisms have been over the top. This is not Nazi Germany, nor is it Japanese internment. That someone might be required to show a suspicious police officer a document that he or she is required to carry anyway—just as I would need to show my driver’s license if pulled over—does not seem unjustly burdensome.
To understand the real causes of controversy, therefore, we must dig a bit deeper. They are, I think, twofold, and both reflect broader failures of governance in the U.S. today. First, it is clear that Arizona felt pressed to pass a law of this sort—and that other states will as well—precisely because the national government has for so long failed to deal effectively with the problem of illegal immigration. This may be changing—border security has improved in recent years, and increasing use of E-Verify, despite some initial kinks in the system, has gradually strengthened our ability to detect illegal employment. Nevertheless, this crisis has been two or three decades in the making, and it is not surprising that economic recession would intensify concerns about the federal government’s longstanding failure to enforce its own immigration laws.
Second is a more generalized fear—also, no doubt, prompted in part by recession, though it was visible even before the markets crashed—that the government is simply no longer doing its job. The first duty of the state is fundamentally a moral one: to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. In our system, we accomplish these goals through a system of representative government and the rule of law.
Yet recent events—in particular the completely partisan passage of Obamacare over enormous public opposition from citizens already unhappy about the bailouts, stimulus package, and ballooning deficit—have left many Americans fearing that the government no longer represents them, and that the law can therefore no longer be relied upon to protect them.
1. Jeremy Bonner wrote:
Of course, it’s interesting that many who support the new law - in Arizona and outside it - would react with horror to the idea of a national identity card that one was required to carry. One does not have to carry a drivers’ license if one doesn’t drive and few people would want to carry a passport with them on a regular basis. But isn’t the implication of the Arizona law that one would need state-issued documentation at all times to avoid even the possibility of detention on suspicion of illegal status?
Furthermore, no politician seems to want to take on the black economy with any great conviction (I seem to recall that a few years ago Congressman Tom Tancredo got into trouble after a company working on his property was shown to be using undocumented workers). I realize that there are problem with forged documentation, but would not a more vigorous targeting of offending employers be as necessary a step as this kind of legislation?
April 29, 9:11 am | [comment link]
2. Br. Michael wrote:
1, the new law simply enables the state to enforce already existing federal law. When I am in a foreign country I always carry my passport and we all have to show our papers when we fly.
Why is it that liberals want to regulate everything but illegal voters, our national borders, sex and drugs?
April 29, 10:23 am | [comment link]
3. Jeremy Bonner wrote:
I’m not denying there’s a problem. I’m merely pointing out that, in principle, everyone in Arizona will now need to carry ID to avoid the possibility of arrest (something with which most libertarians would have issues). It’s not just a case, is it, of giving police the right to check the immigration status of those arrested for committing a crime, but blanket authorization?
Perhaps circumstances alter cases; I don’t know. But that fact should at least be acknowledged.
And I trust you’re not calling me a liberal?
April 29, 10:29 am | [comment link]
4. Br. Michael wrote:
Well if the government can require a person to buy health insurance, why not an ID? And if the police have a reason stop you they can request your ID in any event. States issue tons of driver’s licenses and state ID’s and they are asked for all the time. The only time ID seems to be not required is for illegals and to verify your right to vote (easier to pack the ballot box that way).
The law does not give police any new basis to stop and detain someone. Police may not inquire into immigration status unless they have a “lawful” basis for stopping the person in the first place. And even then, the police officer must have “reasonable suspicion” before attempting to determine whether the person is lawfully present. And that suspicion must be generated by something beyond race and ethnicity — as Byron York notes, the law expressly says these may not be the sole factors.
One of the core functions of government is to protect the nation’s borders. “A government that abdicates our national defense against outside forces is no longer a government worth having.”
President Obama seems to get this, sort of: “Indeed, our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. And that includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona.”
And then there is this:
Obama Endorses Arizona Law? [Mark Krikorian]
Something just occurred to me in rereading the president’s comments on the Arizona law from Tuesday:
“The truth is that 11 or 12 million folks, we’re gonna have to make them take responsibility for what they did,” Obama said. “And the way to do that is to make them register, make them pay a fine, make them learn English, make them take responsibility for the fact that they broke the law.”
Hmm — “make them register.” I know I’ve heard that somewhere. Oh, here it is:
(a) Willful failure to register
Any alien required to apply for registration and to be fingerprinted in the United States who willfully fails or refuses to make such application or to be fingerprinted, and any parent or legal guardian required to apply for the registration of any alien who willfully fails or refuses to file application for the registration of such alien shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not to exceed $1,000 or be imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
So they’re already required to register. That’s from 8 USC 1306(a). It’s also in the new Arizona law. So didn’t the president just endorse the law?
April 29, 10:56 am | [comment link]
And, no, I was not saying you are liberal.
5. tgd wrote:
To understand how wrong the Arizona law is, notice that when you, a native-born U.S. citizen or other legal resident, enter Arizona, then every moment that you are not carrying on your person some sort of ID that shows you are a U.S. citizen, you are subject to being dragged off to the police station until someone can show that you are entitled to be in the U.S. The commentariat tends to look at the effect of this law exactly backwards—it’s the U.S. citizen or legal resident who is now at risk.
April 29, 11:41 am | [comment link]
6. Katherine wrote:
I already have to show my ID to buy Sudafed at the drug store. The hysteria over this law seems to be based on the idea that illegal aliens have a right to be here, which they don’t. Some have suggested also that the opposition may be aimed at trying to prevent requiring presentation of ID to vote.
Opponents are assuming that there will be mass numbers of “driving while Hispanic” offenses, with people being stopped in cars or at the grocery store simply because they speak another language or look like immigrants. If that’s what happens, then the uproar will be justified—but the law specifically says that’s not allowed. The Arizona state government is developing criteria and training before the law is implemented, and perhaps it would be sensible for those opposed to wait and see how this will actually be applied before becoming hysterical, and particularly before engaging in civil disobedience and vandalism by refried beans (this happened at the State Capitol).
April 29, 11:46 am | [comment link]
7. Katherine wrote:
tgd, you’re not likely to be dragged off to a police station unless you engage in some activity which raises the suspicion that you are in the country illegally. I assume that most naturalized citizens or green card holders are in the habit of carrying something with them like a copy of those papers, and in Arizona and California perhaps many citizens, naturalized or otherwise, have already gotten one of the new wallet-card-sized passport cards in order to be able to go into Mexico and return. You need one of those to go to Canada and back, unless you have a full-scale passport. If all states would begin checking legal residence status for driver’s licenses, then the license alone would do, as Arizona’s will, because they check before issuing.
April 29, 11:53 am | [comment link]
8. Br. Michael wrote:
5, and it’s no more than what existing Federal law already requires. Let me say that again: “It’s no more than what existing Federal law ALREADY requires.”
April 29, 12:16 pm | [comment link]
9. Jeff Thimsen wrote:
Showing ID is only half the problem, the question is what form of ID satisfies the requirement. Clearly only something like a passport will be required to prove that one is in the country legally. A driver’s license will not do because illegals can already obtain them. No state requires proof of citizenship to obtain a license. I agree that it is more likely that American citizens are more likely to run into problems than the illegals. Simple question: what documentation do you currently carry with you that is proof of your citizenship?
April 29, 12:24 pm | [comment link]
10. Katherine wrote:
#9, I distinctly recall having to produce a birth certificate to get a Connecticut driver’s license, and I was thirty-eight years old at the time, so your statement that “no state” requires this is not true. According to news reports, Arizona requires it, and so the showing of an Arizona license is sufficient proof.
April 29, 12:30 pm | [comment link]
11. Katherine wrote:
A very quick internet search brings up this article from 2005 which says that only ten states at that time did not requires proof of legal residence for driver’s licenses.
Washington is among 10 states that don’t now require proof of citizenship or legal status. The others are Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Wisconsin and Utah. Tennessee issues special certificates to people who cannot prove they are legal residents.
Many states changed their laws following 9/11/01, and perhaps even more states now verify residence status before license issuance. I believe North Carolina now checks.
April 29, 12:41 pm | [comment link]
12. IchabodKunkleberry wrote:
There are other reasons to support the law. The demands placed
upon institutions such as county or state-run hospitals by illegal
aliens is an affront to our own poorer citizens who have a
stronger claim on those medical resources. The U.S. government
ought to bill the Mexican government at least $100 billion annually
for the demands their citizenry place on U.S. facilities.
Moreover, illegal aliens who commit crimes in the U.S. typically
use Mexico as their bolt-hole to flee prosecution. In my state
(Illinois), ex-governor George Ryan is serving time in prison for
accepting bribes in return for issuing drivers licenses. One of the
licenses he issued (when he was Secretary of State) was to an
illegal alien who caused a gravely serious road accident in which
5 or 6 children of a Protestant minister were burned to death.
There is more than moral, political, or financial corruption
involved in pandering to illegal aliens; these sometime involve
life or death for our own citizens.
On a somewhat more personal note, my wife has spent plenty
April 29, 12:42 pm | [comment link]
of time at immigration offices - she was born in Europe. Why does
she have to go through all the legal gyrations, when others are
clamoring for a “get-out-of-Mexico-free-card” ?
13. stevejax wrote:
#9 Regarding the driver’s license issue. You are *mostly* correct. You may not have to be a citizen, but you do have to be a legal alien in order to get a driver’s license. Hence, if you have a driver’s license you satisfy the requirement, since illegals cannot obtain them.
April 29, 12:47 pm | [comment link]
14. Br. Michael wrote:
If illegals can easily get a drivers license (and I would like to see proof of that), then they can easily register to vote. This is voter fraud and a clear and present danger to the sovereignty of this country. No country allows foreign nationals to vote in its elections.
And if the liberals continue to spout this nonsense (implying that we cannot take the necessary steps to secure US borders) then I have no problem in requiring every US Citizen to carry (even to have at the voting booth) the same documentation that I have to provide to get on a domestic or international airplane.
April 29, 12:47 pm | [comment link]
16. Jeremy Bonner wrote:
As a green card holder (by marriage) who went through all the hoops, I would point out that many of us would have an aversion to carrying the green card with us all the time, precisely because of the fear of losing it.
It’s one thing to carry one’s passport when on vacation (though I would assume that many of us have left it at our hotel from time to time), but one wants to minimize the risk of it going astray the rest of the year. I haven’t yet had to find out how to replace it, but with the electronic data installed, I can’t imagine that it’s either easy or cheap.
April 29, 2:26 pm | [comment link]
17. LeightonC wrote:
My wife is a resident alien, with a green card. She has to have it on her person at ALL times. Every 10 yrs we have to jump through hoops to renew this card, spend lots of money, including another criminal background check. I resent that many in our government, and seemingly all liberals want to give preferential treatment to a class of individuals on the basis of the ethnicity simply because they entered this country ILLEGALLY! It is absurd!
April 29, 2:33 pm | [comment link]
18. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:
More troubling is the requirement that law enforcement officials attempt to determine the immigration status of anyone whom they reasonably suspect of being unlawfully present in the United States. On its face, this seems fair enough, but it conjures fears of police stopping people and demanding to see identity papers with little justification.
So, if this is Sooooo impossible to do legally and fairly…how do Federal Immigration Officers do this EVERY SINGLE DAY of the year, 365 days a year? What do Federal Border Patrol police know that the state and local police cannot know or learn?
Or is this just some sort of ridiculous smokescreen of an argument to continue to allow ILLEGAL immigrants to keep breaking the law, stealing our tax dollars, depressing our wages, and taking our jobs?
April 29, 3:09 pm | [comment link]
19. Dilbertnomore wrote:
So it would seem the enlightened elite among us find it is admirable to enforce the need for common U.S. citizens to produce identification to get a driver’s license, open a bank account, apply for a hunting/fishing license, fly on a commercial airliner, rent a car or do a thousand other humdrum things, yet it is regarded by these same enlightened elite personages to the height of impertinence should a common U.S.citizen like me to even suggest we require identification to prove we are eligible to vote or to prove we are legally staying in this country or even to prove selected of us are actually Constitutionally eligible to be elected President. These are truly interesting exceptions to the rule that ID is legally and forcefully required to be presented many times each week for the run-of-the-mill U.S. citizen. Plays a little like the plot of “Animal Farm” in that all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.
April 29, 4:15 pm | [comment link]
20. Br. Michael wrote:
19, Amen,Amen. Particularly when I had to cough up my full length birth certificate to get my passport, but our chief executive can’t be bothered to produce his. And heaven forbid that you have to produce an ID that entitles you to vote. I truly love your post.
April 29, 4:25 pm | [comment link]
21. Jeremy Bonner wrote:
I would really hope we could keep president’s pedigree out of this discussion.
Where is anyone (in the article or on the board) saying either that you shouldn’t produce ID in order to vote (I don’t know why many places in the US don’t do this - seems like a no-brainer to me) or that one shouldn’t be asked to provide proof of residence?
The issue is whether if being stopped on the street by the police should carry the same requirement as being pulled over in a car. In the latter case, you must be carrying your drivers’ license. If you want to go the national identity card route - as Br. Michael appears to be suggesting - then say so.
In light of Fr. Leighton’s comment, I do find it interesting that the CIS officer who conducted my final interview made no reference to the “carry at all times” business. You would think somebody would say something at that time, wouldn’t you?
April 29, 4:40 pm | [comment link]
22. Dilbertnomore wrote:
Come, come, JB. It’s really all of a piece. Selective application to achieve the desired ‘good’ end. The ‘good’ end could be more of the right (wink, wink) kind of voters or the ‘good’ could be the right (wink, wink) President. Rules are for the little people, but shouldn’t get in the way of getting to the ‘right’ place.
Problem with all this is when we accept the ‘good’ result apart from firm adherence to a standard (the Constitution - un-monkeyed with, please) we lose equal justice under the law and gain rule by whim of the Dear Leader.
April 29, 5:21 pm | [comment link]
23. Jeremy Bonner wrote:
“Rules are for the little people,” knows no ideological boundaries, unfortunately. It has been and is a predilection of both the elitist Right and elitist Left.
For that matter, I must admit as a historian to finding the notion of some “pure” Constitution prior to Progressive meddling a little hard to swallow. The idea that the whole of the 19th century was characterized by some sort of minimalist government just doesn’t wash. It’s Lincoln’s Republicans who get the business of modern statebuilding under way, with the Grand Army of the Republic as America’s first national pressure group.
April 29, 5:52 pm | [comment link]
24. Br. Michael wrote:
Jeremy, I lost my objections to a national ID the first time I was stripped searched at an airport. Constitution void where prohibited by law. Or forced consent. And you are right in pointing out that the American War Between the States led to an increase in federal power that would not have otherwise happened, nevertheless the progressives have increased the damage to the point that our Constitution is a worthless scrap of paper.
As I pointed out earlier, any government that can require the individual to purchase health insurance can require a national ID. That being the case I fail to see what the Democrats are so worked up about.
April 29, 6:04 pm | [comment link]
25. Jeff Thimsen wrote:
Br. Michael: how many times have you been “strip searched” at an airport? Just curious.
April 29, 6:36 pm | [comment link]
26. Br. Michael wrote:
Every time I have to take off my clothes and get patted down. They have however never required me to drop my pants.
April 29, 6:56 pm | [comment link]
27. robroy wrote:
Obamacare requires you to present more evidence of citizenship. And it is mandatory.
April 29, 7:27 pm | [comment link]
28. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:
April 29, 7:52 pm | [comment link]
They don’t need you to drop your pants anymore. They have new viewing technology called full body scanners that render you virtually naked.
29. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:
Starting in 2014, the IRS will be enforcing Obamacare. Wait till the illegal immigrants run up against them! They ain’t seen nothin’ yet, b-b-baby, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Not only will the IRS agents stick them with a bill for healthcare, they will also be looking at their tax compliance and likely fraudulent social security numbers.
Say, maybe there is a silver lining to this Obamacare.
Can’t wait to hear the howls and gnashing of teeth from the left. Ha!
April 29, 7:56 pm | [comment link]
30. Jim the Puritan wrote:
I’m showing my age here, but back during the Vietnam War, federal law required that men of draftable age carry their draft card on their person at all times. A violation potentially carried a stiff fine and a long jail term. Law enforcement people folks could ask for your card at any time, and if you couldn’t produce it, you were subject to detention and arrest. And police knew that was a way you could pick someone up you thought was a problem but didn’t have specific reason to arrest, if they didn’t have both i.d. and a draft card.
So as a young man, you always knew to carry your draft card along with your other i.d. I carried mine in my wallet until it fell into pieces. The pieces are still sitting in my desk drawer at home.
Not saying it’s good or bad, just saying these kinds of i.d. laws have been around for a long time, even at the federal level.
April 29, 7:57 pm | [comment link]
31. Dilbertnomore wrote:
RR, good thing, from his perspective, that he is exempted from the requirements of nis program.
JB, so far as purity in the Constitution is concerned, I’d be happy, for now, just to see an arrest in its erosion. While every President, and all members of Congress and appointed officials serving under the authority of Art. 2, Sec. 2, cl 2. take an oath to support and defend the Constitution too many, in my opinion, have taken an overly creative view of what that documents requires. I include R’s and D’s among those whose actions I find worthy of criticism in their misplaced enthusiasm to bastardize the fundamental rules rather than adhere to them.
April 29, 8:04 pm | [comment link]
33. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:
I still have my Selective Service card. I served in the military for over 17 years and I still carry it in my wallet, along with a host of other IDs that I am required to have to go through life. I wear 2 photo IDs around my neck at work and carry 2 photo IDs in my pocket, not counting a host of other ID cards that don’t have photos. These are just part of my job. I see kids at school with photo IDs on lanyards, factory workers wear them, etc.
You know, you even have to have a photo ID to buy something at BJ’s and Sam’s Clubs. Six Flags requires a photo ID for their season passes.
So, cry me a river if it becomes a requirement for illegal immigrants to have to have ID or go to prison!
April 29, 9:27 pm | [comment link]
34. dwstroudmd+ wrote:
LET ME SEE IF I GOT THIS RIGHT:
IF YOU CROSS THE NORTH KOREAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET 12
YEARS HARD LABOR.
IF YOU CROSS THE IRANIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU ARE DETAINED
IF YOU CROSS THE AFGHAN BORDER ILLEGALLY, YOU GET SHOT.
IF YOU CROSS THE SAUDI ARABIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE
IF YOU CROSS THE CHINESE BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU MAY NEVER BE
HEARD FROM AGAIN.
IF YOU CROSS THE VENEZUELAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE
BRANDED A SPY AND YOUR FATE WILL BE SEALED.
IF YOU CROSS THE CUBAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE THROWN INTO POLITICAL PRISON TO ROT.
> >IF YOU CROSS THE U.S. BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET
* A JOB,
* A DRIVERS LICENSE,
* SOCIAL SECURITY CARD,
* FOOD STAMPS,
* CREDIT CARDS,
* SUBSIDIZED RENT OR A LOAN TO BUY A HOUSE,
* FREE EDUCATION,
* FREE HEALTH CARE,
* A LOBBYIST IN WASHINGTON
* BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS PRINTED IN YOUR LANGUAGE
* THE RIGHT TO CARRY YOUR COUNTRIES FLAG WHILE YOU PROTEST THAT YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH RESPECT
* AND, IN MANY INSTANCES, YOU CAN VOTE.
I JUST WANTED TO MAKE SURE I HAD A FIRM GRASP ON THE
April 30, 7:00 pm | [comment link]
And people are upset that Arizona wants to enforce the existing laws and require compliance by insisting on it?
35. Dilbertnomore wrote:
Dr. DWS, the fact is we live in a strange little world here in the USA. Seems rather like a certain faction of us are consumed by an irrational, national self-hatred. Or perhaps that faction just hates us who believe in the USA that was, and for us, still is.
April 30, 7:28 pm | [comment link]
36. Larry Morse wrote:
Arizona will have this important effect. It will galvanize congress because all the good liberals will see that this has the power to draw votes in elections. The Tea Party Effect will work toward the same goal but from the other end. This issue is not going away, and congress now knows it. If the TP people have a whit of common sense, they will take this issue as their own and spell it in Big Letters. Larry
May 1, 8:26 am | [comment link]