In the wake of another bloody, ugly, mud-infested November primary, race relations– particularly the case of illegal immigration, has come to the forefront of debate. Arizona’s staunch new law allowing authorities to “ask for papers” to someone suspected of being an illegal immigrant has raised fervor in both opponents and proponents of the new law.
While data indicates that most Americans approve of Arizona’s approach, the statistics may be misleading. Ask any American whether they oppose illegal immigrants sneaking into the U.S., causing crime, lowering the economy, costing citizens money, and furthering the nation’s economic down-slide and of course they’ll tell you it must be stopped. It is this, that I believe most Americans do not support, not necessary the Arizona law, per se.
If another approach was utilized first, say one not so borderline fascist and one not so impinging on naturalized citizens’ civil rights and right to privacy, I believe the data would show the same. It just so happens that Arizona took a giant, hard leap forward instead of taking the issue one step at a time.
The waves felt by the Arizona debate have reverberated nation-wide, including in California’s Gubernatorial Republican primary. Candidate Steve Poizner has taken aim at fellow GOP rival Meg Whitman’s proclivity towards “amnesty” in the debate, a term that needs to be understood before being so carelessly flung. Poizner’s ads show Whitman siding not only with President Obama’s disapproval of the law, but also with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. In a recent visit to Washington, Calderon stated he “strongly disapproved” of Arizona’s approach to illegal immigration, a stance Poizner calls amnesty and a mistake.
Pundits lay the approval of Arizona’s harsh anti-illegal immigrant law as a reaction to the federal failure to secure its borders, and it’s true. The law President Obama called “mean-spirited” could have and still can be avoided if Arizona had better protection of its borders, much like how California and Texas have secured.
Instead of law enforcement commanding individuals show proof of their national identity, all Arizona would need to do is place better security in its border with Mexico and follow through on regulations already in place. If an illegal alien is caught committing a crime anywhere, not only in Arizona, they should be recognized as an illegal resident of this country and deported. If an illegal alien applies for welfare or other taxpayer funded programs, they should be recognized as ineligible and given none. If an illegal alien applies for a job that a citizen could be employed in, they should be cut from consideration. On every job application there is a box that asks not only are you eligible to work in this country, but can you provide evidence if asked.
Hospitals and low-cost medical care is trickier. These centers and clinics run on the premise of providing for those living in poverty who cannot afford regular healthcare. While the argument that providing treatment and care for those here illegally takes away from care available to citizens and costs taxpayers unfairly is valid, any facility in the world should not adopt an approach so cold it would turn away a sick individual needing care with nowhere else to turn.
If Arizona secured its border and followed through on these regulations already in place, what you would be left with is what many other states currently contain: a class of quiet, hard-working illegal immigrants who came to this country seeking economic opportunity unavailable in theirs. Immigrants who keep to themselves, work jobs that no one else will work, and who actually contribute to the economy. This is amnesty. These are the individuals who seek amnesty, work for it, and deserve it. Immigrants who leave their country behind due to oppression, depression, instability, and in search of a better life. If this doesn’t sound familiar, it should, because it is exactly how and why America was created. To clump them together with criminals, those who try to exploit the system, and those who cost more than give is not only unfair but inaccurate. Aside from border security, the regulations to weed out the bad apples have always been in place, just not always enforced.
Every now and then, an issue will hit the media and stir up heated debate about race-relations in America, and every now and then the arguments will be heated, demonstrative, indignant- but the same. Talk of race relations in America will never change unless the majority(i.e., “white” people) become sensitive to the sensitivity of minorities. It is unfair to ask the majority/”white” people to walk a mile in a pair of Black, Hispanic, or Asian shoes before formulating an opinion, and perfectly valid to formulate one without doing so. But race relations in this country will never change unless those who are so vehemently against illegal immigrants in Arizona understand what it feels like to grow up being ostracized, alienated, attacked, insulted, and told to leave for looking a certain way. Those on the side of asking someone to prove they are a citizen won’t understand why that is such a slap in the face to someone who has spent their entire life trying to prove they belong. The Arizona law issue isn’t so much about getting illegal aliens out as it is treating Hispanic Americans as second class citizens. Those who were born here, became naturalized here, or have a darker complexion shouldn’t have to prove anything to anyone, especially when the time is taken to understand how a lifelong exposure to discrimination can make one overly-sensitive to a federal law that seems to perpetuate it. A white man demonstrating for the removal of illegal aliens may not have a racist bone in his body, but if any progress on race-relations is to be made, he should understand that those who do have demonstrated in the same way. Sometimes, worse.