Legal discrimination in the United States was supposed to have come to an end nearly half a century ago, and technically it has. Today, thanks to the sacrifices of so many Americans during the civil rights era, the federal government has outlawed and deemed unconstitutional any law or regulation that could even be perceived as racist in any form. However, all of that has changed with the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1070. With the Orwellian title “Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” this act literally gives Arizona law enforcement agencies the right to racially profile anyone they suspect to be an illegal immigrant. The framers of SB1070 and their supporters believe that racial profiling will be an effective tool in the battle against illegal immigration. Unfortunately, such legislation misses the point entirely by blaming the victims of our ineffective immigration systems rather than pushing for immigration reform that would not only address the needs of fearful American citizens but also the needs of nearly 11 million undocumented workers currently in the United States.
Nonetheless, despite the obvious objections to SB1070 it is prudent to understand why so many people in Arizona and the rest of the country believe that it is necessary to implement this draconian measure. The core of the argument for SB1070 is that illegal immigrants “are takin our jobs!” which makes it difficult for American citizens to find work due too the increased competition that illegal immigrants create. However, what advocates of SB1070 fail to take into consideration is that this is not the fault of illegal immigrants but rather that of a faulty and inefficient immigration system that does not have the proper mechanisms in place to properly punish greedy employers who have an incentive in hiring illegal immigrants. The unfortunate reality is that illegal immigrants don’t have the same rights as American citizens and are thus easier to abuse and take advantage of in comparison to legal residents of the United States. If advocates of SB1070 really believe that their opposition to illegal immigration is due to job loss, then they would be far more effective in their goal of stemming illegal immigration by targeting the companies that take advantage of illegal labor by advocating for comprehensive immigration reform; reform that would put the proper mechanisms in place to punish crooked employers.
The next complaint brought by advocates of SB1070 is that illegal immigration has led to a rise in crime rates across the country. However, when put under the spot light this accusation is simply untrue. In a 10 year period from 1994-2004, a time when the illegal immigrant population doubled, violent crimes have gone down from 512/100,000 cases to 447/100,000 cases, while property crimes have also fallen from 5850/100,000 to 4291/100,000. Likewise cases of murder, assault, and rape have also taken similar plunges. In fact it can be reasonably argued that illegal immigrants have an incentive in being law abiding members of society because even a misdemeanor has the potential to lead to an automatic deportation.
The final complaint brought forth by advocates of SB1070 is the assertion that illegal immigration has led to an increase in kidnapping throughout the country. The hysteria behind this claim is so intense that ABC news has dubbed Phoenix Arizona the kidnapping capital of the world. However, this claim leaves out a very important detail – namely that American citizens are rarely the victims of these kidnappings. As Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson stated “we’re talking about drop houses where people who have used coyotes to get into the country may be held for ransom,” Thompson said. “And we’re talking about the kidnapping of smugglers and associates. I have no fear that my kids or grandkids will be victims.” Unfortunately, most kidnappings are related to the arguably nonsensical American “war on drugs” and also to the underground world that has predictably developed as a result of prior strong armed measures implemented to prevent illegal immigration into the United States.
In the end, despite the faulty and dishonest reasoning used to defend SB1070, racial profiling has been legalized and more importantly is considered acceptable by a large number of Americans. Instead of pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, an apprehensive public has endorsed completely immoral and unconstitutional solutions that will only exacerbate the problem of illegal immigration and will most likely lead to heightened levels of animosity between the various communities in this country.
Written By Ali Zaidi