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State Leadership Emerges in Arizona

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

With one bold action, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer staked a claim for states’ rights last Friday. By signing SB 1070, the landmark legislation authorizing Arizona’s law enforcement to actually enforce federal immigration laws, Governor Brewer took a long-overdue stand against the federal government’s unwillingness to enforce its own laws, and preventing states from protecting themselves against the tide of illegal immigration sapping states’ strained resources.

The main responsibility of an effective government is to protect its citizens from invasion; to keep them and their way of life safe. That’s exactly what Arizona has decided to do—protect its people. The state has witnessed an appalling level of crime resulting from the scourge of immigration violations, endangering the lives of Arizonans. Shockingly, Phoenix is now the number two kidnapping capital of the world, right behind Mexico.

State lawmakers finally recognized that those who break the first law of illegally entering the country aren’t going to abide by other important laws like driving with a license, paying taxes, or any of the other laws that foster social order. The battle over illegal immigration is fundamentally a war on civilization and social order. Southern border states in particular have suffered under the burden of illegal immigration and its consequent crime.

Texas Governor Rick Perry was the first governor to reopen the discussion on asserting the Constitution’s 10th Amendment right of states to regain federally-usurped powers. As the economy sags and Congress continually flouts the will of the people, plunging the nation into unconscionable debt, states are finally taking back their sovereignty. Arizona’s immigration law is simply the first modern test of this Constitutional principle.

The problems have gotten so bad in Arizona and neighboring states that it can only be likened to a foreign army crossing the border and invading the state—sanctioned by a mute, effete federal government. Polls show that over 70% of Arizona voters support the crackdown on illegal immigration. Since the federal government is unwilling to listen to the people, state government will.

Opponents of immigration reform have attempted to demonize Arizona’s action as a violation of civil rights. Apparently enforcing immigration laws is now itself a violation of the law. It should be clear that illegal aliens—foreigners who have violated United States law—have no rights but to be sent back to their country of origin. Some have even labeled Arizonans as “anti-immigration,” or opposing any foreigners from becoming citizens. But there is a distinct, obvious difference between criminal, illegal immigration and the lawful immigration that made America the most uniquely diverse yet unified country in the world.

While President Obama derides the new law as “misguided,” the truly misguided are Congress and the President—who have consistently disregarded their Constitutional mandate to defend the country from foreign invasion. In fact, the rampant crime, depleted state resources and resulting public anger wouldn’t have reached such untenable levels had the federal government taken action long ago. The political correctness that defends illegal immigration is not altruistic, as its proponents would have us believe. Instead, it tolerates and encourages criminal behavior that harms every citizen affected by violations of immigration law.

The Arizona immigration law may be an inconvenience for some legal citizens, but with the state in crisis, special circumstances merit state enforcement of federal immigration laws. No patriotic American—regardless of race—would balk at a police officer trying to stop crime in their streets, especially when simply asking for identification can be a deterrent. After the abominable acts of September 11th, Americans understood that new safety measures would be required to ensure safety. Showing identification to police officers who suspect they may be dealing with an illegal alien is not racial profiling. Illegal immigrant is not a race, it’s a criminal status. It’s criminal behavior that necessitates identity verification.

Showing identification is nothing new for the average American; it’s part of our daily life. Think of all the activities that require photo identification: airline travel, credit card or check purchases at the store, buying alcohol—and every time a citizens is pulled over for speeding. Unfortunately, airline hijacking, car theft, credit card fraud, forged checks and underage drinking, and now illegal immigration—all criminal behavior—require the everyday verification of one’s identity.

There is an important balance to find in protecting our freedom while maintaining societal order. Allowing police officers to ask for identification from suspected criminals does not tip the scales against freedom. Where there are cases of police abusing their authority, it should be dealt with swiftly and judiciously, as in any other violation of public trust. Opponents of the Arizona law will be quick to publicize such cases and try to make them national, sensational headlines. Every Arizona police officer will now be under intense scrutiny for his or her execution of their duties.

Neighboring states have an interest in joining with Arizona in defending their borders. As illegal aliens see the law enforced, they will inevitably seek refuge in jurisdictions where laws are not enforced. A flood of illegal immigrants into California would only increase the state’s growing $20 billion deficit. As long as other states continue to aid and abet the criminal activity of violating immigration laws, every taxpayer will be forced to pay for it.

For federal taxpayers throughout the country subsidizing illegal immigration, it would be more productive to send their tax dollars to Arizona, where at least they know their taxes are being spent on enforcing immigration laws, fighting crime, and defending the border.

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