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Is the Arizona Immigration Law Unconstitutional? Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Introduction

Immigration is a confusing, complex, and emotional topic that has unnerved parts of the United States where immigration is a highly volatile problem. The topic of immigration is a controversial topic mired in political propaganda, personal objections, economic and social factors, and questions of the future. Webster defines Immigration as, “a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence.”(Merriam-Webster, n.d) The reasons that individuals immigrate vary with diverse reasoning of political, personal, economic, criminal, or domestic reasons such as jobs and better opportunities. Immigration is more than just a political issues; instead it invokes personal feelings and perspectives, and yields to provide a socialist view on what immigration means to overall society within the United States.

Within Arizona, illegal immigration has become a serious problem, which has pitted many legislators of the government against each other in deciding the correct solution to remedy the problem. Illegal immigration has been detrimental to Arizona’s economy, job market, and increase in crimes and in the number of people in poverty in the past decade. The growing need for an immigration reform within the state is apparent, however the new law in Arizona, The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act also known as, Arizona SB 1070 is discriminatory, unconstitutional, and strips away the liberties and rights that make up the moralities of human behavior. Currently within the United States there are an estimated to be upwards of 20 million illegal immigrants scattered across the country. The immigration policy of the United States has changed throughout history reflecting the needs and attitudes of the political system. Immigration is a serious problem with a severe controversy over the correct public policy that is necessary to regulate the problem. The immigration policies govern the legal status of immigrants in situations such as obtaining citizenship. The policies determine who enters, the longevity of their stay, and when they have to leave. These laws are put in place to serve as a gatekeeper for securing the nation’s border, and deals with social and environmental issues that impact the United States.

The reason why the state law was written to respond to widespread outrage in the governments’ failure to address the problem of immigration. Arizona is one of the few states that border on Mexico and is one of the major destinations for Mexican and Central American Immigrants, “Currently around 75% of the illegal immigrants in the U.S. live in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.”(Van Detta, 2007) The estimated illegal immigration population is around total 6 million people. When immigrants arrive they usually have children and conceive more once they come to the United States, these family and children will usually apply for welfare programs such as food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid within that state which can have significant impacts on the local and state governments. The costs also impact schools and medical treatment. “Arizonans fork out nearly $1.3 billion annually to pay for all of the costs incurred from illegal immigration; around $810 million for education, $400 million for health care related expenses, $80 million in incarceration costs, and the remainder in welfare benefits.”(Van Detta, 2007) Not only do new additions to the population use the local resources but also take part in the local economy and job market, meaning few jobs available for citizens of the state.

The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act

The Arizona law is a discriminatory policy that provides police officers with too little training on proper protocols, and too much power that leads to increase in widespread racial profiling and the mistreatment of mostly Mexicans, some who are generally citizens or U.S residents. Since the inception of the law, there has been protest, riots, and a barrage of controversy from all around the world, and within the United States, specifically from the President. The aim of law is to deport the millions of illegal immigration that could be possibly residing in Arizona. According to Arizona Caption, “Arizona’s new immigration law may have been aimed at deporting as many illegal immigrants as possible, but an ironic side effect will allow more undocumented residents to apply for temporary work visas and permanent U.S. citizenship.”(Jim Small, 2010).

In order to fully understand the thesis of this argument a full understanding of what the law says. “SB 1070, “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” was approved by the Arizona Legislature on Monday, April 19, and signed into law by Governor Brewer on Friday, April 23, 2010. SB 1070 includes provisions adding state penalties relating to immigration law enforcement including trespassing, harboring and transporting illegal immigrants, alien registration documents, employer sanctions, and human smuggling.”(Morse, 2011) To iterate further the new law is supposed to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in Arizona. The law reflects the federal law and makes it their state law which requires immigrants to register and carry their documents. However, being illegal immigrants they in violation of the law and subject to arrest or deportation. The law is one of the harshest immigration laws enacted within the United States of America. The law gives police officers the permission to stop and question people that they suspect are illegal aliens, and the power to arrest them if they do not provide the proper credentials. Within the law, it also prohibits any individual, city, county, or state official from giving any punishment that is against the law and allows any Arizona citizen can sue any official that tries to pass any policy that opposes the immigration law. In the matter of bringing lawsuits, the law also pinpoints that if the individual was to lose they would foot their own bill.

However, the law also outlines that police officers must have clearly defined suspicions if they feel choose to stop and questioned an individual. In addition, the law fully prohibits any racial profiling, or individuals stopped or detained without just cause. “Requires state and local law enforcement to reasonably attempt to determine the immigration status of a person involved in a lawful stop, detention or arrest in the enforcement of any other local or state law or ordinance where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present, except if it may hinder or obstruct an investigation.”(Morse, 2011) However, even with these laws in place the discriminatory law still invites racial profiling minorities, Hispanics, Foreigners, and African American.

Social Views

As mentioned earlier, the Arizona law is not only unconstitutional it also points out many of the flaws of the human moral behavior that impact society. Throughout the history of mankind, there have many theorists who have tried to understand and explain human behavior. Each theory maintains that society works together to maintain the status quo that helps to meet the social needs of the whole society. Functionalism, Conflict Theory, and Symbolic Functionalism each analyzes cooperation of the society, communication, and what ultimately motivates society. Emile Durkheim was key in his argument, “The Division of Labor in Society, in which he suggests that the function of labor was similar to a person’s bodily functions: each part contributing to the general health of the whole body (society), and when a part stopped functioning that this adversely affected the body (society).”(James, 2006) Illegal immigration is a topic that affects the society as a whole, and ways that legislators choose to deal with the problem shows the flaws within their human behavior. Karl Marx said, “From each according to their ability, to each according to his need.” Marx believed that capitalism was inherently oppressive, where a society could only be free when the members of the society are freed from their class struggle. The socialists views rooted in Socialism promote the idea of state ownership of property.

Within his ideologies, Karl Marx insinuates that the international borders are not as important as class.” Karl Marx himself believed that a proletariat nation was global entity more so than a political entity.”(Roberts, 2009) Furthermore, since the borders do not have many consequences, immigrants should be able to freely move throughout the borders without being deemed illegal. A view mirrored by Immanuel Kant in his Eternal Peace, he argued that mankind ownership of the Earth, permits all world citizens should have a right to free movement. “According to the Golden Rule, one should treat others as one would want to be treated by them. Kant’s categorical imperative makes a similar statement. One should “act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (Kant in McGowan, 2007, p. 94) In regards to Arizona law, and the ideal of immigration reform, people should be able to move freely without the consequences of fearing the government. When Arizona Police stop and check if individuals have their “papers” they do so in an unjust and immoral manner that targets those that come to work low wages that Marx’s views as inapprehensible. Displacing the peasant from the soil for industrial purposes came to be seen as a brutal practice. Marx argues: “great masses of men were suddenly and forcibly torn from their means of subsistence, and hurled on to the labour market as free, unprotected and rightless proletarians”.(Marx, n.d)  Yet the border that separates the two countries is not permitted within the Marxist perspective. The socialist perspectives support the illegality of the law by pointing out that immigrants from Mexico brings cheap labor that tends to undermine the existent structure of labor establish within America, that takes away from the society rather than contributes.  Much of the basis of the Arizona law has to do with the economy, and how immigration has become a drain on their resources. However, Marx argued  “the conflict that existed between the working class and the owners of the means of production; a reflection of the current issues surrounding the debate we are currently experiencing here in the United States.” (Nunn, 2011)

Another notable view is from John Stuart Mill who argued that every person is entitled to his god given rights and liberties, his perspective of the Arizona law would fall in the line of the government stripping away their individual rights, “The main point of this essay is to argue that the only justification for society limiting the liberty of an individual, whether by the government or the force of public opinion, is to prevent harm to others.  If the purpose instead is his own good, or some other goal, than only persuasion and non-coercive means can be justified.”(Gabriel, 2010) John Stuart Mill believed that the government must make laws that protect the individual liberties and rights while perpetuating the common good in society in order to be just and rational. In, On Liberty he reiterated this reasoning in his harm principle that, stated one purpose that power can be justly exercised over individuals within the society against their will is to prevent harm to others. They government can prevent harm by the deterring the behavior that might be replicated to encourage others to commit harm to others. In essence, one can argue that is what the law is preventing but in actuality not all those who immigrate to the United States do so to inflict harm or the intent to encourage others to inflict harm on others. What the law in Arizona doing is unjust and not reflective of the socialism or view represented by Mill that would protect the rights of all individuals. The law is stripping away those liberties, and using the government to exercise its unjust law against the will of the people.

The Opposition

Of course with such a controversial law, there will be much opposition arising from different facets of the United States including the government, legislators, and civil rights groups, and advocates, families of immigrants, and citizens that oppose strict immigration policies. NAACP has joined the legal challenge to fight the Arizona Law, along with the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police because it create limited resources that take away from police priorities of providing protection and public safety in within the cities. It breeds mistrust and uncooperative behavior between minority and immigrant communities that can jeopardize the safety and security of citizens within Arizona when a crime is being committed. Even citizens within Arizona feel that the law infringes on their rights while giving police excessive force to racially profile and mistreat citizens that are protected by the Bill of Rights.

The United States’ Constitution was built on purpose to provide rights and protection for all citizens as well as a framework to the government and future generations on how to legislate the law and delegate the inherited rights of their citizens. In passing the law, the Arizona Government went further than the law allows, as the Constitution says that the state government is superseded by the Federal Government and in that sense, the law is unconstitutional. The United States has faced a formidable challenge in determining the precise necessities of its inhabitants when it comes to illegal immigration. In addition to the number of  politicians that are encouraging an immigration policy reform, have being split down the middle on the Arizona Law, within the United States there are several states that have passed copycat laws that have tried to curtail their immigration problems as well. The new law seems to pit citizens against each other as some oppose yet a majority supports the law. Excessive police force, unfavorable press images of Arizona government and other related issues have a high risk in disagreements against this law. Although many Americans support the new law, several cities have staged protests against the SB1070 law. Those against the law claim that it will spread racial profiling and the authorization given to the police will cause the most discrimination against African Americans and Hispanics. The law doesn’t give a clear provision that provides citizens protection against police use of excessive force and police profiling that breeds views of racism… Police in the past been reported for racism, due to the powers that police can stop any individual with a justifiable cause and based on their own opinion.

Even President Obama condemns the Arizona Law calling it misguided and a misdirected expression of frustration. He went on to say further the law undermines the basic notions that Americans cherish. In respect “he instructed the Justice Department to “examine the civil rights and other implications” of the new law.” (Meckler, Jordan, 2010) The law was brought before the Supreme Court in 2012, and in a 5-3 decision they strip away some parts of the law and upheld some. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion, “”Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermined federal law.” (CNN, 2012) In stripping away, they gave police the authorization to arrest the illegal immigrants without the need of a warrant only where there was “probable cause”, and if they committed a crime they can be deported.  Another prevision of the law that was struck down was that illegal immigrants that didn’t have their registration papers or identification cards would be a state crime and subject to an arrest. One of the last key provisions that were struck down was also the forbiddance of illegal immigrants that are not authorized to work in the United States to apply, perform work, or solicit work. The Supreme Court did uphold, “The court let stand one of the most controversial parts of the bill — a provision that lets police check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws if “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is in the United States illegally.” (CNN, 2012) This can still lead to racial profiling in some cases and it still being contested in court from civil rights groups in the court systems.

The current immigration policy in place within the United States recently changed by President Obama, “giving amnesty to the millions of illegal immigrants who meet certain restrictions.”(Beck, 2007) The controversy surrounding the immigration policy is associated with the majority of illegal immigrants coming from Mexico and parts of South America. There are many U.S citizens that are opposed to giving amnesty in any way to the millions of undocumented workers while there many that are for the immigration policy encouraging further changes that help more illegal immigrants gain citizenship.  Illegal immigrants that are trying to better their situation by getting an education deserve a chance to become an American citizen and live the American Dream.

Immigration has significant impacts all around the world, and in a matter of perspectives it has either harmed the host countries are benefited them. Immigration is meant for the immigrants as a way to escape a hostile situation and seek a better life. When immigrants do this their main focus is obtaining a job to help provide for their family, in do, so they get an education, acquire skills and in some instances contribute significantly in fields of technology, science, and medicine. Immigrants help with the aging populations in some countries, and they help to bring fresh, and innovative ideas that will change the infrastructure. The skills and the ideas of the immigrants not only benefit them but the education system, the workforce, and the economy. If immigrants choose to return to their original country they can tremendously benefit them as well as they will drive their economy, be able to share in the knowledge and skills acquired by adding to the job market, making them competitive with other countries. Immigrants that returned successful are able to invest in business and aid in economic and social development within their countries. Immigration and migration are one of the key factors in helping to reduce poverty in the world.

Immigration topic is clearly split down the middle, as most that are in favor, even more are not. The issues are vast and usually consisted of various reasons, some factual and others myths. Throughout the country, there is a deep sentiment that there is a strong need for immigration reform immediately. Immigration has been going on for a long time and is not slowing down thanks to the political regime in some countries, the economic and social welfare in others. The socialist views of Kant, Marx and Engel, and Mill support the perspective that the law passed in Arizona goes against the moral workings of human behavior, by exposing the flaws that the government has implicated against the society.

The law is unconstitutional that it strips the rights and liberties of not only non-citizens but a majority of citizens that are subject to racial profiling, which is against the law. The unconstitutional way that citizens are made to stop and search of without a real “just cause” and without a warrant. Hopefully soon political parties will come together intelligently and logically to solve the problem as the call for a solution is immensely needed in bridging the divide within the country that can effectively resolve the border security, employment and citizenship issues all at once. “John Stuart Mill saw migration as “one of the primary sources of progress.” Adam Smith objected to restrictions on labor mobility and Kenneth Galbraith showed how migration was the “oldest action against poverty.”(Goldin, 2011) However viewed something needs to be done.

References

“Arizona Immigration Law (SB 1070).” – The New York Times http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/i/immigration-and-emigration/arizona-immigration-law-sb-1070/index.html

“Arizona Immigration Law.” Arizona Immigration Law. Np. n.d http://immigration.laws.com/arizona-immigration-law

“At a glance: Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s immigration law.” CNN. (n.d) http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/06/us/scotus.immigration/index.html?pos=canon

(Accessed April 27, 2013)

Ferrante, Joan. Sociology: A Global Perspective. (2008). Wadsworth Cengage Learning. (Accessed April 27, 2013)

“Friedrich Engels.” Spartacus Educational. (n.d). Http://www.Spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUengels.htm (Accessed April 26, 2013)

“Immigrant. “Merriam-Webster. Http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/immigrant (Accessed April 28, 2013).

Gabriel, Philo. “The main ideas and arguments of On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill.” Helium. (2010). Http://www.helium.com/items/1754826-john-stuart-mill-on-liberty?page=3 (Accessed April 27, 2013)

Goldin, Ian. “US Immigration Reform is Overdue.” Think Long. (2011). Http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/blog/view/95 (Accessed April 27, 2013)

Maddock, Preston. “Jan Brewer: Federal Government ‘Refuses’ To Secure Arizona Border.” Huffington Post. (2013). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/22/jan-brewer-arizona-border_n_3132569.html?utm_hp_ref=arizona-immigration-law (Accessed April 26, 2013)

Marx, Karl. “Capital Volume 1: Chapter Twenty-Six. The Secret of Primitive Accumulation.” (n.d). http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch26.htm (Accessed April 27, 2013)

Meckler, Laura, Jordan, Miriam. “Obama Blast Arizona Law.” (2010). http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703709804575202110136576160.html(Accessed April 26, 2013)

Mill, J. S. (2005). On liberty. Stilwell, KS: Digireads.com (Accessed April 27, 2013)

Morrison Institute. “Illegal Immigration VS. Arizona’s Fiscal Crisis.” Tuscan Sentential. http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/opinion/report/101910_immigration_fiscal_op/illegal-immigration-vs-arizonas-fiscal-crisis (Accessed April 26, 2013)

Morse, Ann. “Arizona’s Immigration Enforcement Laws.” (2011). NCSL. http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/immig/analysis-of-arizonas-immigration-law.aspx (Accessed April 26, 2013)

Nunn, James. “The Functions and Conflicts of Immigrants (SOCI4000).” JamesNunn.Net. (2006). http://jamesnunn.net/node/146

Roberts, Drew. “Illegal Immigration: Differing Opinions and a Hybrid Solution to the Problem.” Yahoo! Voices. http://voices.yahoo.com/illegal-immigration-differing-opinions-hybrid-3093547.html (Accessed April 25, 2013)

Small, Jim. “Trespassing law may turn more illegal immigrants into citizens.” (2010). AZ Capitol Times. http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2010/05/17/trespassing-law-may-turn-more-illegal-immigrants-into-citizens/#ixzz2RnqhdLmz (Accessed April 27, 2013)

Van Detta, Kristen. “Illegal Immigration Costs Arizona Taxpayers $1.3 Billion Annually.”Yahoo! Voices. http://voices.yahoo.com/illegal-immigration-costs-arizona-taxpayers-13-billion-180364.html?cat=9 (Accessed April 27, 2013)

 

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