The United States has reformed immigration laws starting from 1924 and continuing to do so. The issue of healthcare, employment opportunities, and education has changed drastically because of laws created and overruled for decades. The political scheme about illegal immigration became a heated issue, especially in the southwest corner of the country, because of Arizona’s new immigration law, Senate Bill 1070. Many people see this law as documentation of America’s racism and discrimination to immigrants, and shattering America’s reputation as a place to start a new life. Few actually read the law to fully understand the implications of its statues. Since many people have different views on the immigration problem, this bill caused extreme separation for Arizona’s citizens, let alone the rest of the nation on labor, healthcare, and education for illegal immigrants.
Many laws concerning public education for illegal immigrants has been debated and changed throughout the states for the past couple of decades. In a Supreme Court case in 1982, Plyer vs. Doe ruled, “the children of undocumented immigrants are entitled to free public education” (Porter 3). This set the minimum standards that each state needed to honor. Many people disagreed with this law, so states created propositions to overrule or require proper documentation to insure legal citizens were the only ones receiving education. For instance, California voters endorsed Proposition 187, which required documentation from students and parents on their legal status before they enrolled in a public education institution (Porter 3). This entitled a social security number from all enrolled in public education, which undocumented citizens lacked. The state of Georgia requires a social security number for any student to enter an education institution (Porter 3). But further, Georgia’s new statue, “The Georgia Higher Education Protection Act of 2006, “seeks to give all immigrants, regardless of their legal status, the opportunity to pursue higher education” (Porter 3). This enforces the reason why immigration laws need to be federal and not state. Representatives of these states cannot create a conclusive law that is reasonable for citizens and undocumented immigrants to follow. The laws are actually confusing, and states are continually divided on educating illegal immigrants.
It is true that as a nation we depend on the cheap labor illegal immigrants have to offer, but it is at the expense of taxpayers. Since they receive no health care through their employers, injuries in the workplace become the local healthcare and taxpayer’s burden (Porter 4). In President George Bush’s attempt to help this problem, the Bush administration created a temporary solution to offer illegal immigrant workers a social security number so they could have the chance to work in America when no citizens are willing to take the job (Porter 4). This created many issues because it was thought that President Bush was helping the illegal immigrants, not trying to come up with a solution for the ones that are already residing in the United States. This could have been an effective way to deal with the immigration problem. Considering there are already 11 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States, we need to put them to use instead of trying to scare them away. Our economy could not function without the cheap labor from immigrants, so instead of trying to reverse the flow of illegal immigrants entering our borders, we need to stop that flow, then educate and legalize the current illegal immigrants. Not many people are willing to admit the fact that as much as the illegal immigrants put a damper on our taxes, we need them for the hard labor that American citizens are unwilling to do.
The new immigration law in Arizona, SB 1070, is viewed as very racist and controversial. The law states that “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person” (S.B. 1070 1). This has changed so a law enforcement officer may ask for documentation paper when they have the reasonable suspicion that the suspect may be illegally in the country. This law had immediate negative feedback across the nation. Many of these accusations come from a misunderstanding and a complete ignorance to read the law and not listen to the media. President Obama took a firm stance against the state law saying it “threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keep us safe” (Archibold 1). Others say it is an open invitation to racism, Nazism, and harassment.
Immigrants are simply required to carry identification of legal citizenship on U.S. soil, which Kris Kobach demonstrates in his article, “Defending Arizona.” He explains how S.B. 1070 is misinterpreted and many people come to rash decisions about it. Many people do not support this law for justifiable reasons, and then others jump to conclusions and do not truly understand the purpose of SB 1070. For instance, Attorney General Eric Holder made comments on Meet the Press about the law leading to racial profiling, when later he admits to a House of Representatives meeting that he actually has not read the law. Kobach was a principle drafter of the Arizona law and asserts that the law does not change the immigration laws drastically. Police officers simply have more control over what to do when they encounter an illegal immigrant. Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, says she will ensure the police are properly aware of the law and what they are expected to do. Racial profiling is one of the main concerns of the law, and she adds how we need to trust the properly trained law enforcers to correctly do their job (Archibald 2). Kobach assures the law is not based off of racial profiling. It is stated in four different sections that the law enforcers cannot find their suspicion off of any factor that is just because of their race or native country. Whether people agree with it or not, the S.B. 1070 is a step towards finding a solution. Something needs to be done. The bill is a step towards finding a reasonable solution.
Many people do not read the law, and then proclaim racism and inequality. Once the law is read, the notions make logic sense and do not drastically change anything, nor is it just based on racial profiling. While Kobach was creating this law, they knew that they would most likely be sued. Kobach says, “presumably, the lawyers who conduct the review will actually read the text of S.B. 1070, and when they do, they will find precious little on which to base a legal challenge” (Kobach 32). If people who challenged the law actually understood it, they would recognize little was changed.
As the immigration policy continues to rise, it is obvious the country is in need of a firm plan to deal with the rising problems it is facing with illegal immigration. Arizona’s S.B. 1070 is one of the only legitimate laws toward changing America’s policies. Every law, besides the S.B. 1070, has created more haywire affects than helpful ones throughout the nation. It is obvious that no one has a clear cut idea of what should be done with the 11 million illegal immigrants that settled down in the United States. Any immigration law needs to become federal, and not state, to provide an even amount of regulations throughout. But first, a large amount of considerations need to be evaluated when dealing with the positive and negative economic factors that illegal immigrants have created in our society.
Written by: Mauri Resseguie