Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Immigration laws dividing states

By RON RAE | Tampa Tribune
June 9, 2010

The last time I wrote about illegal immigration was this past October when the topic centered on the high costs of providing health care to the millions of un-invited "guest" workers to boost the profit margins of businesses whose employment necessities include farm workers, construction laborers, cleaning and maintenance providers and food preparers. Since then, nothing has improved but much has changed.

Some states, as a single body of government, and local communities have had enough of the drain on their dwindling cash revenues. I turn your attention to the matter of the federal government's failings of enacting immigration reform and the unsustainable costs of supplementing the lives of illegal immigrants.

The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, SB 1070, was signed into Arizona state law by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23, somewhat overshadowed by British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon April 20 explosion but no less a media delight, neither of which will be fully resolved in the foreseeable future. The former is set to take effect July 18; the latter may not yet be fully contained by then.

The Arizona law aims to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants and, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey, 63 percent of Americans think it's a darn good idea. Data is readily available to support the impact that illegal immigrants have in Arizona.

A 2009 audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) showed that out of 84 businesses investigated in Arizona, 43 had illegal immigrants among their employed. Company names are withheld until they have responded to violation notices; they are identified only in the event they are subsequently fined or otherwise disciplined for the suspected violations.

Without a valid immigration document on their bodies, law enforcement would be given the power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. If not for the precondition that the "suspect" must have already committed some other unlawful activity, the intent of the law appears to single out short, light brown-skinned people who "Yo no comprendo ingles!" Even a minor infraction could send the individual back to their homeland where their own governments would have to tend to their needs. Arizona is not alone.

Princeton, Asbury Park and Trenton, N.J., have begun issuing identification cards to illegal immigrants to "allow this population that is increasingly marginalized to have some semblance of a normal life." The cards allow immigrants access to libraries, medical centers and doctors' offices, and the ability to seek assistance from charity groups and private social service agencies.

In Trenton, interpreting this policy as a "wolf in sheep's clothing" tactic, only about 1,300 illegals have applied for the ID card since May 22, 2009, when the program was initiated. Out of a population of 83,000 there are approximately 19,000 immigrants (23 percent), many of whom are illegal aliens.

In Moreno Valley, Calif., law enforcement has set up check points on traffic-heavy roads. Although some cities impound vehicles of illegal immigrants for one day, the same as with drunken drivers, many communities impose a 30-day waiting period at a cost of up to $2,000. Later this year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments to a lawsuit that these practices are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against "unreasonable search and seizure."

Since 1993, California law requires a Social Security card and other identification to obtain a driver's license. Citing data that 40 percent of all hit-and-run accidents in the country are caused by drivers without licenses, neighborhoods would be safer and roadways less dangerous if police were to utilize road blocks to catch, arrest and put every slippery dog driver in the hands of the strong arms of the law with fines (that may not be paid) and prison sentences (that cost taxpayers over $20,000 per year, per inmate) regardless of the color of their skin. Fair is fair.

Imagine each and every law-breaking driver, criminal and felon approaching a roadblock, realizing there's no way of escaping being stopped at a checkpoint.

Still, other states have taken an opposite stance on illegal immigrants. Utah has already taken steps to counter the national identification law (Real ID Act) by creating a two-tier system whereby undocumented immigrants can get what has been called "a driving privilege card."

Oregon and Hawaii also have laws that provide a means for illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. In Washington, a grassroots initiative has placed on the November ballot I-1056, "Respect the Law." that would rescind an active law that parallels that of these other states.

With conflicting laws throughout the country, if not a war among the states, we could see wars within the states that may rip our nation in shredded strips of patriotism.

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