By Mark David Blum, Esq.
First of all, Arizona is but one of fifty States in the Union. Immigration policy, or the lack thereof, is a question of national interest, not State interest. Who has the right to be within our nation’s borders and who is here improperly are not a concern of the States. That question is one of federal jurisdiction and only federal law can decide who has a legal right to be within our borders.
As such, Arizona’s enactment of a law enabling a police officer “upon reasonable suspicion” to approach and demand proof of citizenship is a move way beyond their constitutional borders. Frankly, it is not a question for Arizona law enforcement should even ask. It is not their business.
Right now, being in the United States illegally is not a crime. It is a civil offense akin to a traffic ticket. Of course, the person should also be shown the door. But the State of Arizona has taken it upon itself to rid the State of persons illegally in the United States. A real question arises when someone sneaks across the border as to whether they have crossed into the State of Arizona or into the United States. I think the default position is that the illegal crosser has wrongfully entered the United States and not the State of Arizona.
The State complains it is stressed by the influx of illegal immigrants. I can understand. Arizona is at the southern border of the United States and is the point of entry for most illegals. I understand Arizona has a large population that is consuming services and having anchor babies. Arizona will not give a driver’s license to a non citizen. A illegal entrant cannot get a job, rent an apartment, or buy a car. They use police, fire, and medical services. Children flood the schools.
What I don’t understand is why Arizona is going about the entire problem backwards. Give them licenses to drive. Let them get jobs and find apartments. Their contribution to the tax base will help offset the medical and educational costs. They will be living there without a bounty on their heads. Certainly they wont be looking for federal attention. But so long as they are there, why not let them live their lives as human beings and convert them into productive tax paying members of society. The only “right” an American citizen has that no other person has once they are within our borders, is the right to vote. Visitors to the United States, any State have the same constitutional protections and umbrella of laws and rights as does any natural born citizen. Only voting is a right reserved for American citizens. Thus, for all that it is costing to drive these illegals underground, the State is losing money What the State should do is welcome them and let them be a part of society.
But, since Arizona feels itself flooded by a tidal wave of illegal immigrants, the problem is not theirs to solve. Claiming the federal government cant or wont solve the migration problem is not a good enough reason to pass laws creating a reason for a police officer to approach a citizen and detain then until citizenship is proved. This is the reason Arizona has Senators and Congresspeople; to deal with these American problems. The failure of the federal government to build a Berlin-esque wall along the entire Southern border is not for the Arizona State legislature and Governor to solve.
Under no set of circumstances can you cannot look at someone and determine their citizenship status. I wonder how many Canadians or Finns will be stopped by Arizona law enforcement. Giving police a new basis upon which to approach and stop people is a first grade offense to our Constitution and the rights conveyed to all who are present in this country.
Arizona lacks any jurisdiction to determine who is and is not legally in the United States. The State lacks any authority to make it a criminal act to be illegally within the country. Arizona may have a legitimate problem with its population. But declaring war on its people and demanding proof of citizenship is not constitutional. It is time for the federal government to act and their first act should be dragging Arizona through the Courts to learn first hand about the limitations of state government to involve itself in national affairs.