“Congressional proposals call for undocumented workers to be charged with criminal offenses and deported; many politicians successfully demanded building a wall across the U.S./Mexico border, a measure approved by former President Bush; vigilante groups such as the Minutemen monitor the borders for undocumented immigrants. Anti-immigration protestors’ demands range from sending all undocumented immigrants back to Mexico or imprisoning them for violating immigration laws.” Dr. Cooper
- Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the nation’s toughest bill on immigration, April 23, 2010. The law is designed to identify, prosecute, and deport undocumented workers.
- The law unleashed immediate protests and caused new arguments over an old topic: immigration reform.
- President Obama criticized the law, saying it threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe”. (Archibold, 2010)
- The law states that failing to carry immigration documents is a crime and gives police the authority to arrest anyone suspected of being in the country sans documents.
- Those who protest the law claim that this will cause harassment and discrimination against Hispanics, regardless of their immigration status.
- The law allows people who feel that it isn’t being enforced, to sue local government.
- Racial profiling has been brought up numerous times as an issue with Arizona’s immigration law.
- The only way to prevent racial profiling is to require documentation from everyone who is stopped for a traffic violation.
Alabama immigration law
- Judge Sharon Blackburn upheld the majority of the immigration law, September 28, 2011, making the Alabama law the latest and strictest of the state laws against undocumented immigration, going even further than Arizona’s immigration law.
- Judge Blackburn upheld that if law enforcement stops someone for a routine traffic violation, they must verify their immigration status, if a “reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the country without documents.”
- Also upheld: Elementary and secondary schools must determine immigration status of incoming students.
- Opponents say that requiring schools to determine the immigration status of the students will cause students not to attend school.
- The Alabama law requires schools to determine immigration status, for an annual report, and is not passed on to law enforcement.
- Parents who are undocumented are fearful of sending their children to school. They do not trust the government.
- The law has caused animosity in schools. Some parents say their children are being harassed for being undocumented immigrants, based on their race.
- Alabama’s law is supposed to give American jobs back to Americans.
- More than half of the farm industry work force is undocumented.
- Farmers say that documented workers find farm work too difficult, and only last a couple of days.
- Parents are signing legal documents for others to be able to care for their children should they be deported.
- Undocumented workers live in fear that a chance encounter with the police could destroy their families.
The Arizona and Alabama immigration laws are very similar. When Arizona passed the law that penalized people who are undocumented immigrants, it was a strict, insensitive law, that didn’t seem humane. Now, Alabama has topped Arizona’s law by requiring that schools keep track of all undocumented immigrants.
In Arizona, the concern was that law enforcement would abuse their authority to arrest persons who were undocumented, and harass people according to their race. Racial profiling is a major issue with this type of law. Arizona Governor Brewer says, that “We have to trust our law enforcement”. (Archibold, 2010) Power like this should not be in the hands of any one person. If the law requires documents to be checked from those who are of a certain race, the law is going to encourage racial profiling. In order to prevent this, all persons who are stopped by law enforcement should be required to show their documentation of citizenship.
In Alabama, there are major concerns with the strict immigration law. Agriculture is important to the state’s revenue, and farmers are having difficulty finding documented workers to farm the land. Crops are rotting on the vine. Connie Horner, owner of a blueberry farm, says, “You can’t find legal workers, basically they last a day or two, literally.” (CoasterFollow, 2011) Undocumented workers are afraid of being deported, and are leaving in the dead of night. “A number of Hispanic families, both legal residents and those in the country illegally, fled Alabama for other states in the cover of night, leaving behind homes filled with furniture, TVs and refrigerators stocked with food.” (Jervis and Gomez, 2011) Under the new law, schools are required to keep record of those who are undocumented. This definitely has a Nazi feel to it. Why should the undocumented workers trust the government to not use this information to find them and tear their families apart? There are so many stories of people living in fear. There is an urgent need for immigration reform.