Arizona is on the front lines of the battle against illegal immigration over the US-Mexico border, and is now in the front lines of the PR battle over quasi-fascist “papers please” immigration laws. My opinion is below – what’s yours?
Background: The state legislature recently passed an extremely strict new set of laws that grants police new powers to identify and prosecute illegal immigrants – see the NYT’s summary: Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration.
Among the criticisms levied against the bill is that the ability to demand valid papers from any passer-by will make racial profiling against Latinos systemic, and will create a fascist-feeling environment in which jackbooted Arizona police will demand your “papers.”
I’m mixed: the libertarian in me views any attempts to hinder the free movement of people and capital as counter-productive. The community minded part of me, however, sees the costs of illegal immigration in everything from artificial downward wage pressure and increased crime, to increased pressure on taxed social services.
It strikes me that persecuting illegals once they’ve arrived at the expense of the civil liberties of all Arizonan’s can’t be the best way to go at resolving the issue. Instead, why not look for mechanisms to remove illegal’s motivations to cross the border in the first place? That is to say, they cross to work in Arizona, which means Arizonan businesses are employing them illegally. If stemming the tide of illegal immigration into Arizona is the goal, my opinion is that going after those businesses would be the more rational way to do so.
Of course, targeting businesses isn’t something Republicans (or conservatives) are likely to do.
What do you think?