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4:36 AM Mon, Jan. 21st

Letter: Law will impact local wallets

Due to the bias on both sides of Arizona's new immigration law, it is difficult to know what to believe. I try to look at both sides of political issues, and it isn't always easy to make a determination as to what is true or untrue. I am in agreement that something definitely needs to be done in regard to illegal immigration and the impact it has on both the United States as well as the people coming here from Mexico.

The U.S. Constitution, in the 14th Amendment, Section 1, states that, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

When you think about it, that section really does cover both sides of the issue. At first glance, it appears that Section 1 was written addressing legal citizens of the U.S. and the states in which they live. However, the amendment also says that states will not make or enforce laws which deprive any person of the right to pursue life, liberty, or property without due process or equal protection of the law.

The U.S. was founded on the premise that all men are created equal and have the right to pursue their dreams on equal ground. The people coming here from Mexico are apparently not provided that opportunity in their home country and therefore seek to make better lives for themselves and their families by entering the U.S., frequently on an illegal basis. This isn't to say that is the right thing to do; obviously, they are supposed to do so legally, following the laws and tenets of the United States government in establishing citizenship. However, the reality is that the laws in Mexico are either unjust or unenforced in regard to the pursuit of establishing a just and productive life for untold many of the people born there, accounting for the influx of illegal immigrants to our country.

Basically, from what I am reading, the problem with the new immigration law lies in denying rights guaranteed in the Constitution. The law undercuts the Constitution and gives local police authority that the Constitution does not allow under federal law. The law places communities of color at odds by requiring state and local government workers to determine if a person is illegally in the United States based on "reasonable suspicion." The Arizona law does not prohibit police officers from relying on race or ethnicity in deciding who to investigate, allowing for the possibility of racial profiling. One statistic states that three out of every 10 Arizonans are Hispanic, one out of 10 is American Indian, and 13 percent are foreign born, encompassing a substantial portion of the Arizona population, thereby increasing the chances for racial profiling.

Additionally, the law has harmed not only the state but the local economy due to boycotts, risking Arizona's economic future even further. Arizona currently has a $3 billion deficit, which already jeopardizes the state's economic future, let alone additional economic embargos against the state resulting from the law. The law is also expensive due to taxpayers bearing the heavy cost of enforcement. The costs to arrest, detain, process, and transport undocumented immigrants out of Arizona will drain local government treasuries that do not have the funds or the manpower to properly enforce the law.

I am in agreement that Arizona and other local and state governments are taking action on immigration because Congress has failed to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Border security needs to be restored; flexible visa programs to meet the needs of families and businesses should be provided; and dealing with the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States should be a priority. But this is a federal issue, and therefore, by current law, should be handled by Congress immediately and not by individual states. The legalities required by each state government alone could unintentionally prevent stemming the tide of illegal immigration due to the complexity and diversity of individual state laws enacted to overcome the very problem they seek to stop.

My greatest frustration is that for untold years the governments of both the U.S. and Mexico have been either unwilling or unable to find a reasonable and just means of dealing with the overall immigration problem. Everybody complains, but no one seems to be able to develop a plan that will, at the very least, result in practical compromise. The new law's full effects won't be measurable for months or even years to come, but it is clear that the law will be challenged in court to establish legality as well as effectiveness. The only thing I am clear about right now is that, until then, the law will have a detrimental effect economically on the state I live in, and that ultimately, impacts me on a personal level.

More often than not it appears that politicians on both sides of the aisle don't give a hoot about any of us. Politics seem to reign supreme and reality comes across as subjective, pretty much based on selectivity or personal interpretation, benefiting politicians alone. Are we a people who have evolved enough that we aren't mired in a collective mindset, or do we aspire to being individuals who make up our own minds, not relying on what socioeconomic or political groups urge us to believe? When thinking about or discussing the questions relating to immigration or, for that matter, any political issue, perhaps we should ask ourselves those questions before making up our minds.

Bonnie Miller