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Letter: The Truth About Arizona’s Immigration Law

(This letter is in response to a letter printed in the May 21, 2010 issue of the Farmingdale Observer, entitled “Arizona’s Draconian Immigration Law Reverberates Everywhere.”)

Bob Krentz was a rancher.  He was the most recent in a long line of family farmers that spans over 100 years.  While checking the water levels, as he did every evening, Bob found a man lying on the ground.  The man complained of being sick and asked for help.  Bob quickly called for helicopter evac to bring the sickly man medical attention.  As Bob turned his back to get supplies from his ATV, the man shot him in his side.  The man was an illegal immigrant, trying to cross the border through the cover of darkness.

Bob choked to death on his own blood before help could reach him.

This is just one story of violence that occurs every day along the United States-Mexico border.  As illegal immigrants become more desperate, violence necessarily increases, putting Americans and legal immigrants at risk.  The federal government’s failure to secure the border necessitates state action.  Thus, Arizona passed Senate Bill 1070.

The scare tactics used to invoke emotional sympathy are, at best, misleading.  In fact, it ignores the text of the bill and the application of the law.

 The text of the bill reads: “For any lawful contact by a law enforcement official... 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.”

In order for an officer to have “lawful contact” with an individual, the officer must possess, at the very least, reasonable suspicion that the individual is committing a crime or about to commit a crime.  An officer does not have lawful contact merely because he believes the individual is Mexican.

Once the officer has lawful contact, he then must have reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien.  Thus, the officer must possess a reasonable belief that the person is not only an alien, but also that the person is here illegally.  Appearing to be of Mexican descent, and speaking Spanish, is not a satisfactory basis in and of itself.

If both of these requirements are satisfied, then the officer may ask for identification; the officer is not, by any means, required to check the person’s immigration status. 

Asking for identification?!  What a calamity!

Would you drive your car without your license?  If you do not have a license, would you even drive a car?  Any rational person would answer no to both of these questions.

Contrary to what Maryann Slutsky would have you believe, tourists visiting the Grand Canyon and business people at a conference cannot be detained if a cop has suspicions about the person’s immigration status.

Furthermore, federal law already requires that any alien present in the United States carry identification at all times, such as a green card, visa, or passport.  This is no different than requiring an American citizen to carry a passport while on vacation in Cancun.  In fact, the federal United States Code (8 U.S.C. 1357) permits any officer or employee of the INS to have the power, without warrant, to detain and interrogate anyone he or she believes is an alien; not even a reasonable belief, but any belief.

Clearly Arizona’s law is not a gigantic step in any direction.  It merely reaffirms state and federal law already on the books.

It’s a sad day when the lives of innocent, law-abiding American citizens are sacrificed for the sake of political correctness. I praise the Arizona legislature for making a brave move in the face of political crossfire to protect the lives of its citizens.

Michael Passaretti