Apr 252010
Authors: Ian Bezek

Arizona’s new immigration law has sparked fierce debate and strong opinions from all sides. It will allow policemen to question people whom they suspect aren’t citizens about their legal status along with increasing penalties on companies that knowingly employ illegal workers.

There’s two extreme groups that unfortunately overshadow the immigration debate. On one hand, we have the “build a wall” and kick everybody out camp that thinks America doesn’t need any more immigrants. On the other extreme, we have people who think that our borders should be open to everyone and that it is inherently racist to try to enforce any laws regarding immigration.

If you’re in one of those two groups, this column probably isn’t for you, but I hope there is still room in today’s polarized environment for thoughtful debate.

We within the newsroom experienced spirited and reasonable debate while discussing today’s Our View. I understand and appreciate the majority view that this law will lead to unethical racial profiling, but this argument alone is not strong enough to unquestioningly state that this is a bad bill.

To understand why this bill has passed, let’s examine a little background. Over the past decade or so, drug violence has been increasingly widespread along the southern border. A journalist from the El Paso Times, Armando Durazo, recently spoke here at CSU and addressed the increasing perilous conditions in border cities.

Mexican border cities such as Ciudad Juarez have become among the most dangerous cities in North America as drug gangs fight each other with near impunity.

In the absence of any action from our disinterested national government, the situation continues to grow ever worse. Growing numbers of desperate illegal immigrants seek to flee the bad economy and increasing strife and head north.

It’s not just illegal immigrants,;drug-runners have started bringing the violence into our country on a regular basis. The New York Times wrote a story last year that explained that in one Arizona country, the number of kidnappings each year had risen fivefold to over 250 over the past couple of years.

In recent weeks, U.S. citizens have been gunned down in broad daylight in El Paso, Texas as the violence continues to spread northward.

Can you imagine the outrage if 250 people were kidnapped here in Larimer County and numerous people were gunned down by people who were here illegally? You probably can’t, because you don’t live along the border.

It’s always frustrating when people living in the safety of their upper-class mostly non-diverse communities such as Fort Collins have the nerve to call people racists from a safe distance.

That said, opponents of the Arizona law do raise a valid concern. Though the law specifically bans racial profiling and instead forces officers to have several reasons before questioning a person about their legal status, there is the potential for this law to be abused.

It’s wrong to create fear and concern within the populace of Hispanic-American citizens who have immigrated here legally and are just as much a legal resident as you or me. Undoubtedly, some bad apples in the police force will use this law as cover to racially profile Latinos.

But Arizona is in a state of crisis as its citizens become increasingly terrified with violence on the rise and the federal government showing complete disinterest in creating a reasonable work visa program that would allow migrant workers to come here legally while keeping the criminals and drug-pushers out.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer made this point clear after signing the law, saying, “We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act. But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

Maybe this isn’t the right law, maybe it is. It will undoubtedly reduce crime and violence while leading to racial profiling against and resentment among Hispanics. Arizona has tried to mitigate this by mandating training for cops to help them avoid racial profiling, but we’ll have to wait to see if the training works.

Is the cost worth the benefits? Is it worth it to stereotype young male Arabs at airports as more young male Arabs have blown up planes recently than, say, older Indian women? That’s a reasonable question.

What isn’t useful is flinging the word racist around and slamming Arizona legislators for taking action to help their state while the federal government does nothing as the death toll from illegal immigrant-perpetuated violence rises.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com

 Posted by at 2:26 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.