When the Feds Fail to Enforce Immigration Laws

Recently the State of Arizona adopted Senate Bill 1070. It has been labeled as the “tough new anti-immigration law.” President Barack Obama responded by saying:

“Now suddenly if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you can be harassed, that’s something that could potentially happen.”

One has come to expect such ignorant remarks from the likes of race hustlers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton but this is the President of the United State and we should expect better. But it is beginning to appear that, like Jackson and Sharpton, when it comes to playing the race card, Obama is more than willing — remember his comments regarding the Officer Crowley/Professor Gates dust-up in July of 2009. Obama either had not read the Arizona legislation and should, therefore, have kept his mouth shut, or he had read the bill and chose to deliberately mischaracterize it. Obama has shown a pronounced affinity for never letting the facts get in the way of demonizing those with whom he disagrees.

Obama’s comments echoed those by his friends in the mainstream media. David Broeder of the Washington Post began his column vilifying Arizona’s new law:

“If the law goes into effect despite promised constitutional challenges, local police in Arizona will be able to stop people they suspect may not belong here and require them to produce papers attesting that they are legal citizens.

Unlike President Obama, and apparently David Broeder, I have actually read the bill and it is neither a “tough new anti-immigration law”, nor does it permit random harassment of someone because of their ethnic origins.

Arizona’s law does not deal with immigration it deals with ILLEGAL immigration. It does not require that immigrants produce papers dealing with their immigration status, FEDERAL law requires that and Arizona’s new law simply authorizes local law enforcement to likewise inquire about whether someone is violating federal law. It does not authorize someone to be randomly asked to produce papers; it requires such requests to be in conjunction with either probable cause or ancillary to a stop for other violations. (When a law enforcement officer stops you for speeding or a broken headlight, the first thing he asks you for is identification — this is no different.)

But what none of these demagogues have done is put the Arizona law into context. Authorities put the number of ILLEGAL immigrants in Arizona at about 650,000. Given the difficulty in counting illegals, most concede that the number is probably closer to 1,000,000. The total population of Arizona is approximately 6.6 Million. One in ten people in Arizona is present in the United States illegally.

Billions of dollars of illegal drugs pour across the Arizona border each year. Even though drug prosecutions are up by over two hundred percent, over a thousand drug prosecutions in Pima County (Tucson) alone will be refused this year. Those trafficking in illegals routinely kidnap those they transport and hold them until additional monies are paid by their relatives. It is only a matter of time before the open wars between rival Mexican drug cartels begin to spill over into border towns such as Nogales, Yuma and Bisbee.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has pegged the economic cost to Arizona for welfare, healthcare, incarceration and education of illegals at nearly $2 Billion annually — nearly twenty-five percent of that for healthcare alone. Until passage of Arizona’s tough employer sanctions laws, illegals made up approximately ten percent of the workforce contributing significantly to the state’s unemployment rate for those present legally.

Those who enter illegally are preyed upon first by the “coyotes” who transport them and then often by the businesses who employ them. Those businesses often pay substandard wages, violate work hour restrictions, ignore safety requirements and threaten exposure for those who complain. The willingness of those businesses to abuse these workers gives them an economic advantage over those of their competitors who follow the law.

Despite numerous pleas to federal authorities during both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration, the federal government has failed to act in any meaningful way to help remedy the situation. (One of the most ironic elements of this problem is the fact that former Arizona Gov., and now Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano has steadfastly ignored the same pleas from Arizona’s current governor that Napolitano made to the Bush Administration — and who said it isn’t about politics.)

So what does this have to do with Oregon? Oregon has an illegal immigration problem too. Estimates range between 150,000 and 175,000 illegals in Oregon. FAIR has pegged the economic cost to Oregonians at nearly $839 Million for 2010 for welfare, healthcare, incarceration and education of illegals. Oregon is facing a budget gap of at least $2.5 Billion and growing.

Oregon’s unemployment rate remains above 11%. The presence of illegals in the workforce contributed substantially to that number. (There are a number of academic and liberal think tank studies that describe a net benefit to Oregon based upon taxes withheld by employers of illegals. Such studies assume that jobs performed by illegals would go unfilled by Oregonians — an assumption that they have neither test nor proved. More importantly, that assumption may speak more to the willingness of unscrupulous businesses to pay substandard wages than to Oregonians willingness to work.)

Oregon’s prisons are overwhelmed by the number of illegals. Much of the illegal drug trade and gang violence in Oregon can be traced to the presence of a criminal element amongst the illegals. It only took Ted Kulongoski four years as Attorney General and six years as Governor to tumble to the fact that twenty plus years of Oregon Democrat administrations have been issuing driver’s licenses to just about anyone and without proof of citizenship or legal residency. As a result, Oregon has issued driver’s licenses — the primary proof of identification in this state and every other state in the union — to over 150,000 illegal aliens and probably a goodly number of terrorists, drug smugglers and foreign thugs.

Illegal immigration is a major problem in Oregon and one that Gov. Kulongoski and the legislature have chosen to ignore far too long.

The persecution of those who have responded to the inducements for a better life is not the answer. The answer lies in first removing the inducements and after having done so to begin a systematic attrition of those already present illegally. A tough employer sanction law similar to that in Arizona which punishes those who knowingly hire illegals must be accompanied by removal of access to government (state, county and local) programs — welfare, healthcare, and education. Pressure should then be applied to demand that the federal government enforce their immigration laws. Only when the federal government ignores such demands as it has in Arizona should Oregon’s law enforcement apparatus be deployed to do what the federal government has failed to do.

Hopefully Oregon will not have to adopt this latter course but given the attitude of President Obama and the Congress one should be prepared.