OPINION


06-01-2010 

Mike Renzulli
Who is Russell Pearce Really Targeting?  
 
I do not subscribe to the round 'em up, kick 'em out nativist crowd and, like many others, initially had concerns with Arizona's controversial new immigration law SB 1070.
 
However, I decided to do some research to see if much of what SB 1070's critics charge will occur under Arizona's new state statute.
 
After careful consideration of the points for and against it and looking into this matter further, I have come to the conclusion that Russell Pearce's new law will not result in many of the things opponents of SB 1070 claim.
 
Including some Libertarian's bizzare claim that SB 1070 is part a conspiracy to a clandestinely implement a national I.D. card.
 
The law is based soley on documentation and is written to apply to everyone equally. Despite opponent's claims, there is no requirement in SB 1070 that requires people in Arizona to carry any identification.
 
Also, SB 1070 was amended to prohibit racial profiling and race cannot be used as a determining factor when police stop someone.
 
Though it is clear that race is a factor when it comes to the issue of immigration and drugs since Sheriff Arpaio is targeting his roundups in areas that are predominately Hispanic.
 
According to the Cato Institute, most of the undocumented immigrant population are Hispanics and it is Latinos who are affected the most by the U.S.'s bureaucratic immigration process.
  
The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and much of the case law surrounding these two Amendments is very strong in protecting personal privacy and unreasonable searches and seizures.
 
After this law goes into effect in July Arizona cops will not have a blank check to stop people for no reason as there are numerous legal hurdles and even enhanced protections in SB 1070 to prevent much of what it's opponents fear.
 
Under this new law Police Officers don't have any more authority to stop or arrest someone than they had before it was enacted. If they abuse their power, the agencies or officer who acted fraudulently can be held legally and criminally responsible.
 
For example, in the course of their investigation, under SB 1070, police officers are not required to check someone's immigration status if doing so interferes with their ability to conduct an investigation.
 
Police will only have to make a reasonable attempt (when practicable) to check someone's immigration status if they stop someone involved in the commission of a crime.
 
Also, it was recently discovered by one journalist that undocumented immigrants with clean records would be eligible for temporary guest worker cards until they are assigned a hearing before an immigration judge.
 
Immigration courts that handle deporations are backlogged and detention centers that hold undocumented immigrants are full. As a result, many detainees could be the recipients of guest work papers in which recipients would be able to travel anywhere in the country to find work until their court date which could be up to 5 years or more.
 
When this fact came to light, Russell Pearce didn't immediately call for this practice to be stopped. According to Fox News his reaction was:
 
It will save us hundreds of millions of dollars. That's good for the taxpayer. The benefits so outweigh [the work permits].
 
With all of these points in mind, one has to ask who is really the target of SB 1070?
 
One other explanation comes from a news story out of Atlanta, Georgia.
 
As it turns out, while many of the undocumented immigrants caught at Arizona's border are from Central and Latin America, hundreds are coming from countries you may not have expected:
 
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran.
 
With the threat of terrorism inspired by proponents of radical Islam, many terrorists who subscribe to radical Islamic theology will look for any way to sneak into the United States.
 
This is not to say that everyone from the four above mentioned countries or all undocumented immigrants are terrorists and it is very possible that the migrants from middle eastern countries attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico are refugees.
 
However, the vast majority of terrorists do hail from the middle east and all of the countries listed above are known to harbor terrorists. One country (Iran) even helps train and arm them.
 
Therefore, legal measures to help counter the ability of terrorists and violent criminals to enter and live in the U.S. while maintaining standards to preserve individual liberties, like SB 1070, are warranted since terrorists and violent criminals pose a threat to an individual's right to life.
 
Pearce proposed SB 1070 in reaction to discussions he had with ranchers in southern Arizona expressing their concern with the death of Rob Krentz who was murdered by an immigrant or drug smuggler back in March on his ranch located in Cochise County.
 
Krentz was a decent, honest, hardworking man known to help undocumented immigrants crossing Arizona's desert.
 
Cochise County is one of many counties in Arizona near the U.S. - Mexico border that has experienced increased violence due to the smuggling of illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants.
 
Most undocumented immigrants are honest, hardworking people who took a chance to come to the U.S. in search of a better life and should be able to apply for papers to legally work in the U.S.
 
The result of SB 1070 allows them to do just that.
 
The fact that the U.S. almost experienced another terrorist attack in Times Square earlier this month and with the elevated violence in Arizona counties along the U.S.-Mexico border makes it abundantly clear that it is the violence and death resulting from the illegality drugs and restrictive U.S. immigration policies, and the potential influx of terrorists is what Pearce's law is designed to curb.
 
Short of halting the hiring of undocumented immigrants for working and living here (which I disgree with), Senator Pearce is not looking to overturn appropriate legal protections geared to prevent abuse by police officers directed towards people nor stop the flow of immigrants to the United States.
 
With these points in mind, one has to wonder whose side opponents of SB 1070 are really on?