This article explains the new immigration law in Arizona, it’s not what the MSM would want to report. Common sense tells one they wouldn’t pass a law that wouldn’t stand up in court.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs the illegal-immigration bill —
which will go into effect this summer — at the Arizona Department of
Transportation in Phoenix on Friday. (David Wallace, The Arizona
The chattering class is aghast at Arizona’s new
immigration law. “Harkens back to apartheid,” says the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution’s Cynthia Tucker. “Shameful,” says the Washington
Post’s E.J. Dionne. “Terrible…an invitation to abuse,” says the New York
Times’ David Brooks.
For his part, President Obama calls the law “misguided” and says it
“threaten[s] to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as
Americans.” Obama has ordered the Justice Department to “closely
monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other
implications of this legislation.”
Has anyone actually read the law? Contrary to the talk, it is a
reasonable, limited, carefully-crafted measure designed to help law
enforcement deal with a serious problem in Arizona. Its authors
anticipated criticism and went to great lengths to make sure it is
constitutional and will hold up in court. It is the criticism of the
law that is over the top, not the law itself.
The law requires police to check with federal authorities on a
person’s immigration status, if officers have stopped that person for
some legitimate reason and come to suspect that he or she might be in
the U.S. illegally. The heart of the law is this provision: “For any
lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement
agency…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
Critics have focused on the term “reasonable suspicion” to suggest
that the law would give police the power to pick anyone out of a crowd
for any reason and force them to prove they are in the U.S. legally.
Some foresee mass civil rights violations targeting Hispanics.
What fewer people have noticed is the phrase “lawful contact,” which
defines what must be going on before police even think about checking
immigration status. “That means the officer is already engaged in some
detention of an individual because he’s violated some other law,” says
Kris Kobach, a University of Missouri Kansas City Law School professor
who helped draft the measure. “The most likely context where this law
would come into play is a traffic stop.”
As far as “reasonable suspicion” is concerned, there is a great deal
of case law dealing with the idea, but in immigration matters, it means a
combination of circumstances that, taken together, cause the officer to
suspect lawbreaking. It’s not race — Arizona’s new law specifically
says race and ethnicity cannot be the sole factors in determining a
For example: “Arizona already has a state law on human smuggling,”
says Kobach. “An officer stops a group of people in a car that is
speeding. The car is overloaded. Nobody had identification. The
driver acts evasively. They are on a known smuggling corridor.” That
is a not uncommon occurrence in Arizona, and any officer would
reasonably suspect that the people in the car were illegal. Under the
new law, the officer would get in touch with U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement to check on their status.
But what if the driver of the car had shown the officer his driver’s
license? The law clearly says that if someone produces a valid Arizona
driver’s license, or other state-issued identification, they are
presumed to be here legally. There’s no reasonable suspicion.
Is having to produce a driver’s license too burdensome? These days,
natural-born U.S. citizens, and everybody else, too, are required to
show a driver’s license to get on an airplane, to check into a hotel,
even to purchase some over-the-counter allergy medicines. If it’s a
burden, it’s a burden on everyone.
Still, critics worry the law would force some people to carry their
papers, just like in an old movie. The fact is, since the 1940s,
federal law has required non-citizens in this country to carry, on their
person, the documentation proving they are here legally — green card,
work visa, etc. That hasn’t changed.
Kobach, a Republican who is now running for Kansas Secretary of
State, was the chief adviser to Attorney General John Ashcroft on
immigration issues from 2001 to 2003. He has successfully defended
Arizona immigration laws in the past. “The bill was drafted in
expectation that the open-borders crowd would almost certainly bring a
lawsuit,” he says. “It’s drafted to withstand judicial scrutiny.”
The bottom line is, it’s a good law, sensibly written and rigorously
focused — no matter what the critics say.