Arizona Immigration Reform 60 Days Later

Where are we headed and what has it done?

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The Arizona Immigration Reform Law (SB 1070[1]) was signed into law just over sixty days ago by Governor Jan Brewer. The passage of this controversial law has become a line of demarcation for where any politician or group stands on immigration reform. The debate on this issue has been brewing since before passage, and still more than a month away from enactment (July 29, 2010) and enforcement. Republican legislators and executives find themselves pitted between anti-immigration Tea Partiers and Hispanic voters who have helped get them in office.

Campaigns in Texas, Colorado and California have seen Republican candidates who have held leads lose them due to their loss of support in the Latino community.[2] Remember in 2000 George W. Bush received 49 % of the Hispanic vote in Florida – a demographic that traditionally voted heavily Democratic. Controversial Democratic strategist and author Robert Creamer sees a politician’s stance on Arizona SB 1070 as a litmus test for where a candidate stands on immigration – and this directly impacts the Latino voter who feels marginalized by this law. “…Republicans – especially in the West – have awakened a sleeping giant.”[3] The voters who have been disenfranchised are legal Latinos who will vote.

Two exceptionally wealthy leaders of major international conglomerates Rupert Murdoch (CEO of News Corporation, which owns FOX and many media outlets) and Michael Bloomberg (founder of Bloomberg L.P. and mayor of New York City) recently lobbied the government to create a path for legal status for immigrants. The two men brought together corporate leaders from Disney, McDonalds and Hewlett Packard and mayors of major US cities to create a partnership that will lobby on behalf of creating a legal route for immigrants to get legal status in the United States. These people believe that this is needed to sustain growth and to continue our nation’s history of welcoming people to fulfill their own American Dream. Bloomberg expanded by noting that mass deportations are likely impossible and that would greatly harm the economy.[4]

The local economy is already reeling in Arizona and not just from liberal tourists who are staying away and protesters of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball club. An article this week in the Arizona Republic discussed the impact of fear on local Latinos, both legal and illegal has had on business. Many families have fled the state out of fear of harassment and ultimately deportation. Landlord Rollie Rankin has lost seven tenants recently – “They have had enough of the crackdown. Back in the old days, it was a wink and a nod; there was tacit approval that they were here. Now, it’s an open attack.”[5] The costs go beyond lost tenants – school districts are losing enrollment (and therefore funding) and the state stands to lose $31 billion in spending from large Latino population.[6] Arizona has a 5.6 % sales tax rate.

Bill sponsor, Arizona Representative John Kavanah (R) believes that ridding the state of illegal immigrants will save the state money in services, incarceration, education and medical costs. He acknowledges that some businesses will fail, but he states “If there are a few pockets of economic activity that will suffer, that is unfortunate, but I am sure that if their business is worth having because there is a demand for it, then they will survive,” Kavanah said. “If their business isn’t worth having because there is no demand for their services, then their business will go away. But that is the way it is supposed to be in an efficient economy.”[7] That sounds rather cold and impractical. University of Arizona’s immigration policy expert Judith Gans believes that the gains the state may make in shipping off illegal immigrants are false. “If we fill all of those jobs with legal, low-skilled, native-born workers, the fiscal burdens don’t change. It’s inherent in the job itself, not in somebody’s immigration status,” she said. “It’s sort of a myth that if these illegal immigrants weren’t here these fiscal burdens would somehow magically change.”[8]

Immigration reform is needed, and I have written this before – but it needs to be sensible and comprehensive and legal. Immigration laws and enforcement are in the purview of the federal government and not the states. The country cannot afford to have 50 states have 50 laws on immigration, trade agreements or international treaties. I fear the Arizona law will lead to racial profiling and though I have been assured by a law enforcement officer that the “bad” cop that would be reckless in enforcing SB 1070 is a rarity I cannot say I am encouraged by what I have read about Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The list of charges that have been levied against him is staggering. Amongst the “highlights” is a litany of charges from the Arizona ACLU including use of excessive force, denying medical care to a paraplegic and improper use of stun guns.[9] Recently one of Arpaio’s men was held in contempt of court for going though a defense attorneys files in court.[10] There is a legitimate fear in the citizenry that this type of “Old West” law enforcement is above the law. The law is written to guarantee no racial profiling or abuse but is that a realistic situation when renegade law enforcement is involved in some jurisdictions?

I sympathize to a point with a state that is in effect being held hostage by the federal government’s inaction to provide comprehensive immigration reform. There is too much politics being played by each side to get any real work done. Whether you fall to the right or the left we are all being shortchanged by our elected leaders. This inaction does not give Arizona or any other state the right to enact laws that are outside of their jurisdiction. Many believe that this law will not survive challenges in federal court, or even in the Roberts Supreme Court. Time will tell. As a nation we can hope for the type of comprehensive reform that Bloomberg and Murdoch are calling for – reform that will allow immigrants the chance to give their families their own American Dream – just like many of our forebears were able to do for us. There is no room in the United States for discrimination and the rejection of basic human rights and dignity.

Other articles on this subject you may want to read:



[3] Ibid.



[6] Ibid.


[8] Ibid.




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12 Responses to “Arizona Immigration Reform 60 Days Later”

  1. Therealnews Says:

    Great story. Immigration reform needs to sensible and legal. not sure i believe in the “Bloomberg and Murdoch” reform but good comprehensive article anyways 🙂 thumbs up.

    • sapblatt Says:

      Hey – thanks! Not a Murdoch fan at all – but I also think a lot of his news programming is just marketing…the ideas behind a path to legal status is a noble one…we’ll see. Thanks again – Mike

  2. Kate Says:

    Thank you again Mike, simple but meaningful and just in time!!!

  3. azdiscovery Says:

    It is already the law. You say you fear of racial profiling – meaning cops can pull over and question anyone they want about immigration and arrest them for it.

    What you fail to realize, intentionally or ignorantly, that it is already the law. A cop, in any state, can already interrogate any person about their immigration status based on just a belief.

    Federal Immigration Law:

    Any officer or employee of the Service …shall have power without warrant—

    (1) to interrogate any alien or person believed to be an alien as to his right to be or to remain in the United States;

    This is already the law in 50 states.

    What Arizona’s law does is 1) constrain the federal law and 2) allow prosecution in the state. Being able to arrest an illegal in Arizona is not a new power. The law does not give new enforcement powers to officers. It actually constrains enforcement of the existing federal law.

    What the law does add is state prosecution – meaning that instead of handing the illegal over to ICE for release or deportation – they can now hold them in jail. Ask New York – that just got sued for $145,000 dollars by an illegal because they held him too long before ICE came. There is not a state law to hold an illegal. You can arrest them, but not hold them. So what happens when ICE never shows up? New York found out. They subsequently had to let every illegal in prison go – ICE never showed up.

    And ask Georgia, who had a Kennessaw State student, pulled over for a traffic violation on campus, and wound up arrested for being an illegal alien. How did that happen? How did a Hispanic college student get pulled over for a ticket and wind up in deportation? It is already law and already enforceable.

    The kicker, which is what Arizona SB1070 is all about, is that Georgia handed her to ICE who subsequently released her. Catch and release. Georgia rearrested her on giving false information – the only thing they could, because there is not a state law to hold her for being illegal.

    The Arizona law constrains the federal law. Instead of just a belief, under federal law, under Arizona law race is no longer a factor, you must have already broken the law, and it protects witnesses and victims of crimes. Things the federal law does not allow.

    Your “fears” can already happen in every state under the federal law, because it is already illegal. Your fear of “enforcement” of the law is unjustified – it can already enforce it and in 30 days, Arizona law will constrain that enforcement. What it adds is prosecution. And that prosecution has been added by two other states before Arizona, California and Missouri already have a similar law.

    I really wish you would understand what the law is instead of making up false scenarios in order to justify the proposition of boycotts through fear mongering.

    • sapblatt Says:

      AZ – first and foremost – thanks for reading and taking the time to comment – that is my goal – getting discussion going.
      I used legitimate examples to illustrate my concerns – I hope you are correct – and that the law will be used fairly – but that does not change the fact that this a state creating laws in an area that is federal jurisdcition – ICE is not to be commended – they should do their job and the fed should come up with plans that will work and take pressure off of the states.
      Lastly – I did not endorse any boycotts – I reported on actual situations that were cited in my article – I did not boycott anything – I had no intentions of going to AZ, and I think cities like my home of Boston formally boycotting AZ is just political posturing of little value.

  4. Jamie Anderson Says:

    Great article, Mike. Well researched and insightful. Hopefully the AZ train wreck will sort itself out eventually, but it’s just a shame they put this law into motion to begin with.

  5. Zethan Frankel Says:

    America does not need immigration reform. America needs immigration enforcement. The entire premise of this article is off base.

  6. sapblatt Says:

    Zethan – thanks for reading and sharing your opinion – from what I see, both sides of the political aisle want reform but none of them want to work together. Enforcement needs to be realistic – current ICE staffing and policies are not working – and this should not be handled by states.
    Again – thanks for taking the time. – Mike

  7. nrique Says:

    Great read,I am wondering what would be your solution to a comprehensive Immigration reform program.
    For instance:

    How would you get immigrant workers to the U.S.? Would their Home Countries have any responsibility to process them before immigrating to the U.S.?

    What type of program would it be for the workers? A guest worker program similar to the guest worker program that brought countless immigrants into the U.S. during World War II.

    How long would they be required to stay before applying for permanent residency? Would they even have this right in your plan?

    Who would pay for this plan and how much. For instance application fees for the guest worker and or fees that a company might pay to be part of this program.

  8. The Toy Guy Says:

    This will be fun. Has anyone actually read the Arizona SB 1017? All it says is that they will have the power to ask people for their papers, and it authorizes law officers to dump illegals at the immigration detention facility. How can the Obama administration argue with that? Who is advising this administraion? The only advantage I can see is a political posturing given the large Hispanic population, but if you ask the legal immigrant, they would vote for enforcement, so that is wrong-headed. I just don’t get this waste of Federal tax money.

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