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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Senseless immigration legislation will lead to more trouble

Russell Pearce, the president of the Arizona Senate, is at it again with his unquenchable thirst for pursuing illegal immigrants to the furthest extent of the law and then beyond it.

Pearce, known largely for his role in the infamous S.B. 1070, is now among those in the Arizona Senate who are introducing legislation that will make it a crime for illegal immigrants to drive in the state, bar them from public education, dole out special birth certificates that deny state citizenship to children born in the US to illegal immigrants and force eviction of those who harbor illegal immigrants in public housing. The new legislation, S.B. 1611, is sure to bring up several lawsuits, but apparently the Legislature is banking on that in order to bring the matter before court for a landmark victory.

Pearce said that, in order to stop what he calls “”the invasion,”” the state must stop “”rewarding people for breaking (immigration) laws,”” according to an article from The New York Times. Supporter of the new legislation, Katie Dionne, said in the same article, “”if (an immigrant’s) life is so wonderful, why did they leave where they’re from?””

First, to touch on Dionne’s remark, the life of an immigrant isn’t wonderful. Mexico is currently in such a vicious and corrupt state that these people are fleeing the chaos in search of a better life. If you don’t want to hear it from a college student, just listen to Gov. Jan Brewer. By now we’ve all heard her accusations that beheadings are spilling over from Mexico. While she’s wrong about the spillover, Brewer is right about the state of violence. Just ask Tiffany Hartley, whose husband was shot in Mexico while on his Jet Ski.  

Second, yes, these people are breaking the law, and we certainly ought to punish them, but this Joseph McCarthy-like witch hunt to uproot the immigrants and punish their children is truly going too far.

How can someone be born in the US, but denied state citizenship? There seems to be a conflict here, both in logic and with that pesky 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, perhaps the grossest overstep of the legislation is the punishment for harboring an illegal immigrant.  

Play out this scenario: An illegal immigrant couple comes over to the U.S. and lives with relatives who are current U.S. citizens living in public housing. This is, of course, breaking the law and the U.S. citizens are essentially harboring a fugitive couple. Under this new legislation, if discovered, not only will the illegal immigrants most likely be jailed and eventually deported, but their relatives can be evicted from their homes.  

Now factor in the possibility of a child being born to that illegal couple and tell me things don’t get complicated. The current law on the books, Arizona Revised Statute 13-2929, lists the punishment for harboring an illegal alien as a Class 1 misdemeanor, and a fine of up to $1,000. Now tack on eviction and ask yourself if this is going too far.

It is understandable to want to bring illegal immigrants to justice. They’re here illegally and that is a crime. But at what point do we stop treating them as an illegal immigrant and more like some sort of vicious monster? Is it really so bad to want a better life? What happened to embracing the tired, poor, huddled masses that yearn to breathe free?  

This incessant hounding to stop “”the invasion”” needs to be abandoned. The lawsuits and boycotts of this bigotry alone are draining our, already weak, state of its limited resources. Now we learn that our Legislature is passing bills in hopes of getting judicially reviewed and challenged? That’s like betting money you don’t have. It’s as though Arizona is truly aiming to be labeled the most senseless state in the union.

— Storm Byrd is a political science sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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