Praising Arizona


This article is reprinted from City Journal

Supporters of Arizona’s new law strengthening immigration enforcement in the state should take heart from today’s New York Times editorial blasting it. “Stopping Arizona” contains so many blatant falsehoods that a reader can be fully confident that the law as actually written is a reasonable, lawful response to a pressing problem. Only by distorting the law’s provisions can the Times and the law’s many other critics make it out to be a racist assault on fundamental American rights.

The law, SB 1070, empowers local police officers to check the immigration status of individuals whom they have encountered during a “lawful contact,” if an officer reasonably suspects the person stopped of being in the country illegally, and if an inquiry into the person’s status is “practicable.” The officer may not base his suspicion of illegality “solely [on] race, color or national origin.” (Arizona lawmakers recently amended the law to change the term “lawful contact” to “lawful stop, detention or arrest” and deleted the word “solely” from the phrase regarding race, color, and national origin. The governor is expected to sign the amendments.) The law also requires aliens to carry their immigration documents, mirroring an identical federal requirement. Failure to comply with the federal law on carrying immigration papers becomes a state misdemeanor under the Arizona law.

Good luck finding any of these provisions in the Times’s editorial. Leave aside for the moment the sweeping conclusions with which the Times begins its screed—such gems as the charge that the law “turns all of the state’s Latinos, even legal immigrants and citizens, into criminal suspects” and is an act of “racial separation.” Instead, let’s see how the Times characterizes the specific legislative language, which is presumably the basis for its indictment.

The paper alleges that the “statute requires police officers to stop and question anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant.” False. The law gives an officer the discretion, when practicable, to determine someone’s immigration status only after the officer has otherwise made a lawful stop, detention, or arrest. It does not allow, much less require, fishing expeditions for illegal aliens. But if, say, after having stopped someone for running a red light, an officer discovers that the driver does not have a driver’s license, does not speak English, and has no other government identification on him, the officer may, if practicable, send an inquiry to his dispatcher to check the driver’s status with a federal immigration clearinghouse.

The Times then alleges that the law “empower[s] police officers to stop anyone they choose and demand to see papers.” False again, for the reasons stated above. An officer must have a lawful, independent basis for a stop; he can only ask to see papers if he has “reasonable suspicion” to believe that the person is in the country illegally. “Reasonable suspicion” is a legal concept of long-standing validity, rooted in the Constitution’s prohibition of “unreasonable searches and seizures.” It meaningfully constrains police activity; officers are trained in its contours, which have evolved through common-law precedents, as a matter of course. If the New York Times now thinks that the concept is insufficient as a check on police power, it will have to persuade every court and every law enforcement agency in the country to throw out the phrase—and the Constitution with it—and come up with something that suits the Times’s contempt for police power.

On broader legal issues, the Times is just as misleading. The paper alleges that the “Supreme Court has consistently ruled that states cannot make their own immigration laws.” Actually, the law on preemption is almost impossibly murky. As the Times later notes in its editorial, the Justice Department ruled in 2002, after surveying the relevant Supreme Court and appellate precedents, that “state and local police had ‘inherent authority’ to make immigration arrests.” The paper does not like that conclusion, but it has not been revoked as official legal advice. If states have inherent authority to make immigration arrests, they can certainly do so under a state law that merely tracks the federal law requiring that immigrants carry documentation.

The Times tips its hand at the end of the editorial. It calls for the Obama administration to end a program that trains local law enforcement officials in relevant aspects of immigration law and that deputizes them to act as full-fledged immigration agents. The so-called 287(g) program acts as a “force multiplier,” as the Times points out, adding local resources to immigration law enforcement—just as Arizona’s SB 1070 does. At heart, this force-multiplier effect is what the hysteria over Arizona’s law is all about: SB 1070 ups the chances that an illegal alien will actually be detected and—horror of horrors—deported. The illegal-alien lobby, of which the New York Times is a charter member, does not believe that U.S. immigration laws should be enforced. Usually unwilling for political reasons to say so explicitly, the lobby comes up with smoke screens—such as the Times’s demagogic charges about SB 1070 as an act of “racial separation”—to divert attention from the underlying issue. Playing the race card is the tactic of those unwilling to make arguments on the merits. (The Times’s other contribution today to the prevailing de facto amnesty for illegal aliens was to fail to disclose, in an article about a brutal 2007 schoolyard execution in Newark, that the suspected leader was an illegal alien and member of the predominantly illegal-alien gang Mara Salvatrucha.)

The Arizona law is not about race; it’s not an attack on Latinos or legal immigrants. It’s about one thing and one thing only: making immigration enforcement a reality. It is time for a national debate: Do we or don’t we want to enforce the country’s immigration laws? If the answer is yes, the Arizona law is a necessary and lawful tool for doing so. If the answer is no, we should end the charade of inadequate, half-hearted enforcement, enact an amnesty now, and remove future penalties for immigration violations.

Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal, the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the coauthor of The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s.

  • gamalpha

    immigration laws are about keeping us save from gangs like Mara Salvatrucha. Here is an excerpt of what wikipedia tells us about Mara Salvatrucha. "On December 23, 2004, one of the most widely publicized MS crimes in Central America occurred in Chamelecón, Honduras when an intercity bus was intercepted and sprayed with automatic gunfire, killing 28 civilian passengers, most of whom were women and children.[12] MS organized the massacre as a protest against the Honduran government for proposing a restoration of the death penalty in Honduras. Six gunmen raked the bus with gunfire. As passengers screamed and ducked, another gunman climbed aboard and methodically executed passengers.[13] In February 2007, Juan Carlos Miranda Bueso and Darwin Alexis Ramírez were found guilty of several crimes including murder and attempted murder. Ebert Anibal Rivera was held over the attack and was arrested after having fled to Texas.[14] …

    On May 13, 2006, Ernesto "Smokey" Miranda, an ex-high ranking soldier and one of the founders of Mara Salvatrucha, was murdered at his home in El Salvador a few hours after declining to attend a party for a gang member who had just been released from prison. He had begun studying law and working to keep children out of gangs.[16]

    On June 22, 2008, in San Francisco, California, a 21-year old MS gang member, Edwin Ramos, shot and killed a father, Anthony Bologna, 48, and his two sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16, after their car briefly blocked Ramos from completing a left turn down a narrow street as they were returning home from a family barbecue.[18],,,

    In 2005, Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez and the President of El Salvador raised alarm by claiming that Muslim terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda was meeting with Mara Salvatrucha and other Central American gangs to help them infiltrate the United States.

    The New York Times sympathy for these people is outrageous.

  • davarino

    Thanks Arizona for standing up for what is right. Well, journalism is dead. I used to think Russian, and China were the only countries that were fed propoganda by their government media. What more proof is necessary to show that 90 percent of the media is for the left and can not be relied upon the tell the truth. The Times isnt even trying to disquise their lies. They just rely on most of the populous to take their word for it and not check the facts. This just shows how desparate the left is, and how affective the Arizona law will be in starting the dominoes tipping over.

  • Thunder

    What ARIZONA'S NEW LAW???
    Illegal entry was always a felony…………..most gov. agencies ignored it, and now – a surprise???
    Liberalism is a mental disorder

  • betw

    It simple. While I support legal immigration (with FIRM assimilation/Americanization), I also favor reducing legal immigration and deportation of all illegal immigrants, period.

    We have a weak economy with unemploymnet expected to remain around 10% for years to come; we do not need to import 100,000 people into our country each and every month.

    And the fundamental issue is Mexico. We can't accept half of their population. Just can't. I'm all in favor of trying to help Mexico but they need to change their economics to one that fosters business enterprise and thus job creation.

    In fact, Barry needs to learn that economic lesson too.

    Reduce all (especially Muslim ) immigration for 5-10 years, then we can revisit the issue.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Tar_n_Feathers Tar_n_Feathers

    The only people that should be bent out of shape over this are the immigration federales. If I were part of the INS, I'd be ticked off that Arizona decided they were going to do our job for us. Maybe some of them appreciate the extra help, but no one likes it when a co-worker ends up having to do the work that you should be doing.

  • Thunder

    What ARIZONA'S NEW LAW???
    Illegal entry was always a felony…………..most gov. agencies ignored it, and now – a surprise???
    Liberalism is a mental disorder

  • betw

    It simple. While I support legal immigration (with FIRM assimilation/Americanization), I also favor reducing legal immigration and deportation of all illegal immigrants, period.

    We have a weak economy with unemploymnet expected to remain around 10% for years to come; we do not need to import 100,000 people into our country each and every month.

    And the fundamental issue is Mexico. We can't accept half of their population. Just can't. I'm all in favor of trying to help Mexico but they need to change their economics to one that fosters business enterprise and thus job creation.

    In fact, Barry needs to learn that economic lesson too.

    Reduce all (especially Muslim ) immigration for 5-10 years, then we can revisit the issue.

  • Guest

    Suggestion: Let's just pass (and enforce!) Mexico's immigration law, word-for-word. And get a CORRECT interpretation of the "anchor-baby" thing , i.e., parents are illegal = baby is not a citizen.

  • USMCSniper

    What is it I heard loud and clear at the pro illegal alien rallies on of course May day? Ahhhh… yes…. "Besa mi culo Gringos. We don't need no steeenking green cards!"

  • Armando

    Watch out America, these so-called Latinos/ Hispanics are trying to "take back" swatches of the US by stealth, just as the islamofascists are trying to take back those once conquered areas of Europe. Arizona, you are doing the right thing. Don't give up!
    By the way, many of these "Chicanos" speak a completely bastardized Castellano and and are absolute illiterates regarding their Spanish heritage.

  • Allen

    Liberalism is truly a mental disorder. The Arizona law sets a great precedent that I hope will catch on with other states. I honestly do not know if we can save the United States at this late time however.

  • Sylvie7

    Every older member of my family was an immigrant to the US. Their immigration to this country wasn't easy and took a long time because of the need to comply with Immigration law. They never complained, or spoke of it with a sense of entitlement. They took for granted that there were laws that they were expected to comply with. That first generation didn't have an easy time here economically. They worked hard, yet thought of their good luck to be citizens. When I hear the comments of today's aliens who sneaked into the country with the attitude that they had a natural right to live here AND without enough respect for our country to ever think of THEIR OWN legal obligations, I get furious. The United States as every other country has the right to establish Immigration Laws. Don't try to change the US. There is plenty of need for change in their countries of origin.

  • statb

    GO Az, I live in Ca but am thinking about moving to AZ

  • Sylvie7

    Every older member of my family was an immigrant to the US. Their immigration to this country wasn't easy and took a long time because of the need to comply with Immigration law. They never complained, or spoke of it with a sense of entitlement. They took for granted that there were laws that they were expected to comply with. That first generation didn't have an easy time here economically. They worked hard, yet thought of their good luck to be citizens. When I hear the comments of today's aliens who sneaked into the country with the attitude that they had a natural right to live here AND without enough respect for our country to ever think of THEIR OWN legal obligations, I get furious. The United States as every other country has the right to establish Immigration Laws. Don't try to change the US. There is plenty of need for change in their countries of origin.

  • SFLBIB

    Re: "It is time for a national debate …"

    The time for a national debate is long passed.

  • NORMA LEE

    i WANT A BUMPER STICKER!!!!!

  • NORMA LEE

    I FORGOT TO SAY THE BUMPER STICKER SHOULD READ "PRAISE ARIZONA"