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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

SB 1070 hearing emphasizes legitimacy of law

The enactment of S.B. 1070 triggered protests across Arizona and received criticism from officials as high up as President Barack Obama. While critics claim this act will cause racial profiling and even tempt harassment of Hispanics, regardless of their legal status as American citizens, the act only requests one thing: for immigrants to carry documentation.

On Monday, federal appellate judges held discussions that suggested they could allow Arizona to enact a highly controversial section of S.B. 1070. This tender section of the bill states that police officers can determine if someone they stop is in this country illegally.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Carlos Bea questioned if that section alone was unconstitutional. U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler, who is representing the federal government in the hearing, responded that “”‘our position is not that they’re not authorized to check with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. … ‘Our objection is that the state statute mandates it,'”” according to the Arizona Daily Star.

While this may appear as a minutia, the probability of police officers either facing resistance or refusal by those who are stopped is more likely if the state statute doesn’t mandate it.

Other countries, such as France and Russia, require not only immigrants, but visitors as well, to always carry their documentation, or risk serving time in a foreign prison. Why should America treat its immigrants any differently? And why is there such uproar about S.B. 1070 when other countries have been operating this way for years?

Perhaps the issue lies in the fact that America has created an image of being a country where anything goes. While being the land of opportunity defines America’s character and has served many immigrants well as a place to rebuild, today this attitude brings a threat not only to the safety of its citizens, but to its national identity. If a country welcomes anyone who steps into it without requiring a form of initiation or assimilation, the country will lose its sense of identity and value all together.

Although the bill may invite the harassment of some American citizens, one could compare that to the unpleasant airport security all Americans endure for the safety of this country.

S.B. 1070 is a dramatic move that sits uneasily with many Americans. Maybe it’s because enacting this bill was an anomaly — it made no sense with the character of America. America was never understood as a country that would exclude.

It’s important to note, however, that Arizona is not excluding or putting further limits on how many immigrants can enter the country with measures like S.B. 1070; it is simply attempting to give its citizens, and those who immigrated legally, a sense of order and safety. The policy hasn’t shut the door to America — it simply requests a knock before entering.

 

— Alexandra Bortnik is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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