What do you think of Arizona’s “papers please” laws?

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?

11 thoughts on “What do you think of Arizona’s “papers please” laws?

  1. “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”

    This is the common misinformation about the law that is greatly amplifying the rhetoric. Police are specifically prohibited from harassing “passers-by” and are only allowed to ask for documentation from people who have been stopped for some other infringement. In other words, people have to be suspected of having broken a DIFFERENT law for which they have been stopped before their status can be questioned. Frankly, I’m shocked its not already routine to do a background check on everyone who gets arrested.

  2. As the Federal Government is not about to do anything, I would say hats off to Arizona for taking up the initiative. Having had the law explained to me from both points of view (it is only 10 pages long), I would say that the authorities in Arizona should be allowed the benefit of the doubt and try the law out for a year or so. Then re-evaluate it and if it is working well, then keep applying it. If not, then there will be case studies to use in refining the law to something more appropriate.

    I really don’t believe that little children will be pulled over at ice cream stands. But if a person is already pulled over by the police for something else and the policeman has casue, then why not.

    Go to Europe and you get asked for your passport on a regular basis. Having a proper identity card in Arizona is not much to ask.

  3. Richard is correct, the police must have another purpose to engage anyone before they can ask for identification. The sad thing about the situation is, like everything else, the issue has been politicized. Instead of looking to the federal government for enforcement of existing laws the left has focused in on “racial profiling” which is driving a wedge between hispanics and other Americans who believe the rule of law needs to be observed. Even the Attorny general has expressed “concerns” about racial profiling while admitting that he hasn’t read the legislation. President Obama is also raising concerns instead of confronting the millions of illegals overwhelming Arizona and other border states, which is his responsibility. The law came about after the cold blooded murder of a rancher in that state but dems are trying to paint conservatives such as the Arizona governor as intolerant or outright bigots.

  4. Arizona is starting to fight the battle that much of the Western world needs to fight against illegal immigration.

    Their “rights” do not trump ours.

    Arizona’s situation is appaling – the overwhelming majority of mayhem and murder is due to illegals. The expense to the state in terms of crime and law enforcement is huge. What does it take for a sovereign state to be able to defend itself? If Arizona is crushed in this attempt, expect illegals to become unstoppable all across the USA. Obama certainly won’t do a thing about it.

    I’ve been going out of my way to buy things online from Arizona on eBay in the last few days, even if I can get them cheaper elsewhere.

    Go Arizona!

  5. they have so many illegals in the u.s. nothing except an all out blitz with arrest and immediate deportation will clean the mess up. piss on all bleeding heart liberals.

  6. What Gov. Brewer is doing is completely constitutional.
    It is a straight forward response to the non-response of the Federal government to secure the border.
    This is not an assault on civil liberties, it is an act to preserve them.
    How lawless does this situation have to get before you civil libertarians wake up?
    You cannot have both.
    Sheesh……

  7. You got do what you got do!
    If that’s what it takes to protect their society, I’m all for it.

  8. It’s so easy to be morally pure —-y’know, when you don’t actually have to live there.

    The Arizona law is a good first step.

  9. I spoke with a US agent at the federal level. He verified that officers must have probable cause to make a stop before asking for “papers”. I was told that if the person could produce a valid driver’s license, they would be released. The same agent then said, “Do you know how many states issue valid driver’s licenses to illegals?!” Think about that one.

  10. If someone is in a country illegally then they do have something to worry about.This isnt anything like fascist Germany of the 30′s where specific groups were targeted ,regardless of citizenship.Citizens have rights of their respective countries.Illegals do not.Yes they are human but unfortunately there are many who would abuse our generosity than actually stand up on their own two feet.
    Critics arent looking at the bigger picture.Which is surprising since these same critics support global warming?Yeah ,ok.

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