Sep 8, 2010

No Asking for Students' Green Cards and Other Arizona Alien Woes

Chuck MisslerBy Dr. Chuck Missler
Koinonia House

The tally of fugitive illegal aliens in the United States numbered 506,232 people as of Sunday, September 5, according to Homeland Security. These half-million persons do not include all illegal aliens in the US, mind you; they consist of only those who failed to show up on their court dates after having been caught and released. The actual number of aliens in America illegally is an awesomely high number. Naturally, Arizona bears a heavy portion of the weight, but the courts have done a steady job of binding the state's hands in finding and expelling these invaders.

In Justice: All by itself, Arizona is home to an estimated 12 million illegal residents, and some of those residents attend college at Arizona schools... illegally. Maricopa County Community College District in Phoenix had been dealing with the problem by asking foreign nationals to show their green cards in order to be employed in the 10-college system. Monday, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to say, "You can't do that."

The suit accuses the school district of discrimination "by imposing unnecessary and discriminatory hurdles to employment for work authorized non-citizens," and seeks to charge $1,100 for each of the identified 247 legal immigrants who were asked for more ID than required by law. One of those named, Zainul Singaporewalla, stated that he was denied employment after producing a driver's license and a social security card because he was not able to also produce a green card. His frustration is understandable. This situation and others like it present a constant tension between protecting the rights of those allowed to be in America and protecting states like Arizona from the flood of illegals.

Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio criticized the Justice Department, saying the lawsuit made it "abundantly clear that Arizona, including this sheriff, is Washington's new whipping boy. Now it's time to take the gloves off," he said.

Injuction: On July 28th, US District Judge Susan Bolton effectively stripped the gears from Arizona's SB 1070, which would have made illegal residency a state crime, not just a federal one, and would have given the state's law enforcement more power to detain, punish, and deport illegal immigrants.

Though President Obama has remained largely silent on the highly controversial immigration proposal, he took time out this spring to publicly declare his opposition to Senate Bill 1070. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill in April, and it was set to take effect on Thursday July 28th, but in the eleventh hour, Clinton-appointed federal judge Susan Bolton put the kibosh on several of its controversial points.

Bolton blocked provisions which:

  • allowed for an immigration check on any arrested individual;
  • required police officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws – if the officer had reasonable suspicion and the effort to do the check did not interfere with an investigation or a person's need for medical attention;
  • required immigrants to carry papers at all times;
  • banned immigrants from blocking public thoroughfares while soliciting employment, or from soliciting employment in public places.
Judge Bolton decided that the law would overburden the system if every arrest led to an immigration status check through the federal government. Critics of the bill also argued that the law would lead to racial profiling - asking for the "papers please" of every individual of Hispanic appearance. Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio comfortably asserted to ABC's Good Morning America that officers are not now engaged in racial profiling during the enforcement of other laws and crimes among its citizens, and enforcing immigration law should not be any different.

Bolton, though indicating that she understood and sympathized with points in the bill, ("The Court by no means disregards Arizona's interests in controlling illegal immigration," she writes) she bowed to the President and federal judges on two points: 1) that the bill would preempt federal authority, thereby undermining unified national authority 2) that the bill would cause an undue workload and financial strain on federal resources better used on matters already deemed higher priority to the federal government. The bill would "divert resources from the federal government's other responsibilities and priorities," according to Bolton.

She also cited the human rights of individuals in commenting that there was "substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens" (and foreign tourists), and implied that the United States may appear, if accepting the bill, to be going the way of police states that have little to do with American freedom, pointing to "the intrusion of police presence into the lives of legally present aliens (and even United States citizens), who will necessarily be swept up" in the law's enforcement. Bolton has a legitimate point there. At the same time, Arizona's illegal immigration problem poses a serious national security threat, and the Federal Government has thus far proved anemic in its response.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is appealing the injunction. The debate in Bolton's courtroom over the constitutionality of the disputed portions of SB 1070 could take months.

In Jugs: Not only has that recent ruling protected Arizona's inhabitants (both legal and illegal) from questioning by law enforcement, but a ruling in a separate case last week protects those Arizona citizens who go out of their way to help illegal aliens. A federal appeals court on Thursday decided in favor of a man who had been stashing water in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Dan Millis had been convicted of littering because he placed jugs of water out in the wildlife refuge to aid illegals crossing through the parched land. In a 2-1 ruling, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals said that the jugs were not "garbage" because they had been intentionally left with drinking water in them, and the law against dumping on federal lands was "sufficiently ambiguous in this context that the rule of lenity should apply."

Arizona is not the only state seeking immediate and more decisive action from federal immigration authorities against illegals who commit crimes; 22 states are drafting or seeking to pass legislation similar to Arizona's illegal immigration law. According to ABC polls, 60 percent of Americans support the AZ immigration law, while 46 percent feel that states should be responsible for making and enforcing their own immigration laws. The states are watching and waiting carefully to see how Arizona, the guinea pig, plays her cards and makes history. At stake is the age-old battle between state and federal control and who should make and enforce immigration law.

Jan Brewer's bill will set a precedent if it passes: it would be the first case in which a state is given the power to carry out penalties for illegal immigration, which until now has been the jurisdiction of the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service. The issue of illegal immigration has festered in the wings of the White House since George W. Bush laid aside his immigration reform attempts in 2007 amid criticism and public outcry.

In the meanwhile, John McCain said he would like President Obama to come down and take a look at the border himself. If "anybody hasn't seen what's going on south of our border, they have been oblivious to the terrible, terrible struggle that's going on down there - 28,000 Mexican citizens being killed, the murders taking place just south of our border, the invasions and the insecurity in the southern part of our state," the Arizona senator said on Fox News Sunday. McCain pressed the importance of securing the border, saying, "I'd love for the president to come and visit the border. Unfortunately, he hasn't had time to do so."

Maybe he'll get around to it. In the meanwhile, the state will struggle to protect its face with wrists shackled.

Related Links
Brewer Pledges to Keep Fighting the Feds to Secure Arizona's Border - FOX News
ICE Says It's Caught and Released 506,232 Illegal Aliens Who Are Now Fugitives - CNS News
Justice sues Arizona in green-card 'hurdles' - Washington Times
Arizona: Obama's 'whipping boy' - OneNewsNow
Prophecy 20/20: Profiling the Future Through the Lens of Scripture - Chuck Missler (Book)