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home : opinion : opinion May 24, 2016

3/6/2013 6:00:00 AM
Column: Immigration law an attack on workers

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

Arizona's controversial immigration law, already softened last summer by the U.S. Supreme Court, took another hit Monday when an appeals court ruled in favor of day laborers.

The law that went into effect in 2010 in part banned day laborers and motorists who wanted to hire them from doing business.

The state defended the law, citing traffic concerns.

A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, saying it unduly limits commercial speech. The Arizona law, they said in so many words, went too far.

My take on this has a little to do with illegal immigration and a lot to do with common sense.

First off: In this economy, how many day laborers are illegal immigrants? Seems to me a lot of out-of-work legal citizens might want to hang out at a local lumber yard or moving van company in search of a few hours' worth of honest work.

And even if they are illegal immigrants, the fact they are looking for day labor tells me two things: They aren't members of a drug cartel looking to destroy lives and they're willing to perform manual labor for low wages.

The motorists who pick them up don't exactly provide health insurance and matching 401(k) plans to these guys, and they don't pay taxes on those workers, but they do put a few dollars in their pockets. And if they do a good job, their one-day employment might turn into steady work.

I bet we can all agree a day laborer who's lucky enough to catch a job or two every week isn't going to get desperate enough to commit crimes in order to eat.

That's a good thing, regardless of where one stands on the illegal immigration issue. After all, a little early-morning traffic congestion in a tiny number of areas is a small price to pay given the alternatives.

But here's the clincher. The 9th Circuit knows the state enacted the law not out of traffic concerns, but with a different goal in mind - to push illegal immigrants out of Arizona.

That, in and of itself, is bad policy. Because when you cut off a person's ability to provide for their families, you've essentially cut off any chance he or she has of walking a straight line - which is the shortest way to get from point A to point B.

In this case, point B is likely Nevada or California. Why head south when the money you need to make is in the north? Arizona is basically sending its problem to neighboring states. That's, well, downright un-neighborly.

Without the ability to do day labor, they couldn't even leave Arizona if they wanted to. How's that for irony?

And people will do what they think they have to do to survive. Whether they crossed the border illegally or can trace their roots to the Mayflower, people survive.

That's what we do.

They're not going to lay down and die just because the government took away the only chance they had to earn an honest buck.

Hunger has a way of eroding a person's morals, especially when that person looks in the eyes of his hungry wife and children.

I understand illegal immigration is a real problem. I understand it's the kind of problem that brings strong emotions boiling to the surface.

And I understand there are no simple solutions, especially for those who believe the federal government defends illegal immigrants against the people of Arizona.

But I also know, and history will bear me out on this, that taking away a man's dignity is never a good thing for them or for us.

Let the day laborers gather in the morning and let the construction workers lucky enough to need their help stop traffic for a few seconds.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

Try becoming a citizen of Australia and your brilliant statement means nothing.
In this country liberals and illegals are trying to make the word "illegal" not politically correct.
Australia looks better every day!
I wish this country had the cahonies Australia does.

Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“In Australia you can't enter the country unless you have a skill they need.”

Hmm, so Australia doesn’t allow tourists. I never knew that. Thanks for telling us.

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Article comment by: I Disagree

I totally disagree with the author. Illegal is illegal. Arizona is not the only state to enact a law like ours and it is working in the other states. I wouldn't feel bad at all if we drive them to California or Nevada.

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Article comment by: biker randy

So McMurdo feels sorry for ILLEGALs here in Az. They should illegally enter Kalifornia where the State welcomes them with open arms.

Only legal citizens should be treated as such. Why have boundaries if illegals are treated as citizens?

In Australia you can't enter the country unless you have a skill they need. We're not that restrictive, but we have illegals here and they don't.

McMurdo wants to screw those that try to get here legally from other countries and have to wait years to do it. He want's to give the cheaters(border crossers) a short cut.

Do you know if you are in Mexico you have no rights since you're not a Mexican citizen? If you build a house there they can take it from you any time they want to. Maybe the US should apply Mexican laws.

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Article comment by: Cliff Foster

[Comment deleted for excessive length.]

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Article comment by: Let's Do A Re-write

Well McMurdo, you just fell off the AP bandwagon. I mean, when every other paragraph starts off with an "And" or a "But", you've lost it.

Now, an AP purist might condense all you have penned into something like this:

Be neighborly. Ignore No Parking signs. Swerve and let live. Immigration is not a sin. Let them labor by day and send money home at night. Smile and chisel on the price. Count your blessings and the money you've saved. Smile some more. Wealthy is good.

Three hundred pounds of newsprint saved.

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Article comment by: Butch Meriwether

Doug, very good prospective and a good read. Keep up the good work.

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

Great column McMurdo I was all set to disagree with you but your reasonable approach to a very complex problem was spot on. If the Miner is to exist it needs to reach out to the real community out there that is not being represented by city or county elected officials.

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

Interesting, why don't you take a trip to Las Vegas, park and watch the illegals.....excuse me, day laborers, at the varied nurseries. Las Vegas has had numerous problems from complaints by customers of harassment by day laborers, local businesses complaining of day laborers urinating and defecating behind their businesses and theft from customers vehicles while they shopped at the nursery. No, I have seen what illegals, (day laborers or whatever politically correct label you want to use) create problems for a community, this is why there are temp. job agencies, so workers can get some work and income taxes can be paid and many of the issues stated above can be mostly eliminated.

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Article comment by: justanobody sr

Just what part of ILLEGAL don't you people understand?
when someone breaks the law, it's illegal,
no amount of voting will change that!
we need to close the borders COMPLETELY, to stop drug trade, and terrorists, in addition to ILLEGALS.
the current elected officials see them (illegals) as voters, and are doing everything to retain them here in the USA. why lower the US to mexico standards?

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

If our neighboring states didn't want the problem of illegals they would pass strict laws too. Then the direction of point A to point B would lead due south, back to the border the illegals crossed.

California has many cities that have declared themselves sanctuary cities for illegals. The state passes laws that favor illegals, the state welcomes them, and supports them financially. California is also bankrupt.

Nevada has a huge hotel service industry that relies on people willing to take low paying menial jobs.

The people in AZ, through their continuous election of state politicians who are willing to support a tough stance on illegals have spoken. Hopefully, the decision of the 9th circuit court, (notoriously liberal and located in San Francisco), will go up to the Supreme Court and be reversed.

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