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Letter: Arizona’s Immigration Law is a Step in The Right Direction

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

I was compelled to respond to the article that appeared in your May 21 Farmingdale Observer edition entitled, “Arizona’s Draconian Immigration Law Reverberates Everywhere”, written by Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, the campaign director of the Long Island WINS, a campaign promoting policy solutions to local immigration issues.

Ms. Slutsky clearly hasn’t bothered to read the Arizona Law, nor has she bothered to investigate what the spirit and intent of the Arizona immigration law’s original creation was, and why it was approved by the Arizona Legislature and signed into law by the Arizona governor.  Sadly, the interpretation of the Arizona immigration law as portrayed by Ms. Slutsky, is clearly a bold blatant attempt to skew the Arizona law’s facts, and replace them with her own misguided and incorrect interpretations of what the Arizona law actually says.  Her opening sentence of “Show me your papers,” indicates her point of view about this law, as does her articles title.  So now that we’ve read her position, I propose we instead deal with the facts, truth, and the reason the people of Arizona passed their recent immigration law, a law which as of this writing is still achieving support ratings of almost 70 percent across the state of Arizona.

First, there is nothing in the Arizona law that implies or directs any law enforcement entity, be they local, state or federal authorities to indiscriminately challenge, profile or harass people on the streets of Arizona to produce their papers.  The Arizona law states that when a subject is under investigation for the commission of a crime, or involvement in criminal activity, that subject can be questioned as to their nationality status.  The more important issue that completely eludes Ms. Slutsky in her article is the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants.  She and Tom Suozzi are both dead wrong to imply that legal residents of the United States should be fearful of being jailed for not having proper identification on their person.  Especially those legal residents of the United States who have immigrated lawfully and legally, and were granted permission to be here.

I welcome any immigrant into the United States, I really do.  I am referring to those desiring to lawfully immigrate into the United States and who file that request with the INS, follow the rules and requirements to obtain permission to immigrate. Those who have instead chosen to sneak into the United States, knowing full well that they were breaking the immigration and entry laws of the United States by doing so, are by definition illegal immigrants and in fact, individuals who have committed a criminal act upon this nation.  Should we support and excuse illegal immigrants for breaking into our homeland just because they wanted to?  I don’t think so. Yet, Ms. Slutsky sees no distinction between the legal and illegal immigrant.  There are laws on the books right now that clearly spell out what anyone wishing to immigrate into the United States are required to enter the United States legally, and many states, like Arizona were hoping that the United States government would enforce these laws and close up the porous borders that illegal immigrants use daily to sneak into the United States, in the post 9/11 America. So Arizona got tired of waiting and passed its own immigration laws. Other states are writing and considering their own versions of the Arizona immigration law.  This bothers Ms. Slutsky and her organization’s efforts.  Why? 

I spent three decades in law enforcement and I can say with absolute authority that the laws are not broken, nor do they need re-writing.  The laws of immigration into the United States need one thing done that hasn’t been done in decades, and that is simply enforcement.  There are solid, intelligent, valid, tested, immigration statues on the books already.  Enforcement is the solution, not the problem, as the likes of organizations like Ms. Slutsky would have you believe.  I do not find the Arizona law misguided or a move in the wrong direction.  In her organization’s eyes it may be, but in the view of current immigration laws, including Arizona’s newest law, we are focusing on the unlawful behavior of these illegal aliens who have intentionally broken the law and trespassed into our nation.

If Ms. Slutsky had her way we should all be finding fault with our current immigration laws, especially the Arizona immigration law, and provide a path for citizenship for all our current illegal immigrants who chose to thumb their noses at American immigration laws and break into the United States and claim it as their own.  Ms. Slutsky’s view is a giant slap in the face, to not only those individuals who lawfully immigrated into the United States, and in many cases waited years for approval and authorization to do so, but she manages to insult every American citizen and taxpayer for not allowing these illegal immigrants a free pass.  Why would any illegal immigrant respect our laws if we ourselves don’t enforce them?  So, despite all the fear mongering going on by groups like Ms. Slutsky’s, it’s simply about obeying the law.  Those who chose not to are called criminals.  Illegal immigrants are what they are.  Individuals who broke the law and entered the United States illegally.  Arizonians knew that, and passed a law to fix it.     

Kevin Hassett