Stephanie's Political Arena

Critiques and Perspectives on National Politics and More

Posts Tagged ‘Arizona

Verifying State Authority on E-Verify and Immigration Reform

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I’m slightly behind on this given the non-stop hectic pace of my life at the moment – despite having completed another semester of grad school (with flying colors I might add) – but I wanted to address the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on a controversial immigration law enacted by Arizona in 2007.

By a decision of 5-3, the Supreme Court upheld the Legal Arizona Workers Act, also known as the “employer-sanctions law,” which imposes penalties on Arizona employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.  The law requires employers to use the federal E-Verify system in determining the citizenship status of job applicants prior to hiring them.  Employers caught hiring illegal immigrants would have their licenses either suspended or revoked under provisions of the 2007 measure signed into law by former Governor Janet Napolitano (currently the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security).   

Not only is this a landmark ruling within the context of immigration reform, but it could ignite an interesting debate among Constitutional scholars over how far states should be allowed to go in passing legislation in areas of public policy that are under federal jurisdiction.  As Temple University law professor Peter Spiro tells The Washington Post, “… the court here is validating a state measure that implicates immigration enforcement.  The court today has rejected an argument that states have no business in immigration enforcement.  That’s off the table.”

As of 2010, 14 states had enacted similar legislation requiring the use of E-Verify, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.   

The ruling also sets the stage for a possible showdown on Arizona’s recently passed and even more controversial Senate Bill 1070, which allows law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of apprehended individuals if there is reason to believe they are in the country illegally.  The measure was drafted by State Senator Russell Pearce, a former Maricopa County Chief Deputy.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a former law professor who helped draft the language of Arizona’s two immigration measures, expressed confidence that if the Supreme Court were to decide on SB 1070, it would be in Arizona’s favor.  He said the ruling on the 2007 law could entail a favorable ruling on SB 1070.  “That language will vastly assist the state in defending SB1070,” he told The Washington Post.  

Since Arizona enacted the controversial SB 1070 a year ago when it was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer, states such as Virginia, Utah, and, more recently, Georgia have enacted similar laws.

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Written by Stephanie

May 30, 2011 at 12:56 am

Putting Arizona’s New Immigration Reform Law into Context

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Amid the ever-growing furor over Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s move to sign immigration reform legislation into law nearly two weeks ago, two of my favorite columnists recently offered their perspectives on the broader significance of this hyper-controversial topic…

I’ll start with Thomas Friedman’s column Narcos, No’s and Nafta, which appeared in the New York Times.  With nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, and China taking up most of the space on the U.S. foreign policy agenda, Friedman points out that we’ve taken the U.S.-Mexican relationship for granted.  Now, with increasingly violent drug wars expanding along the southern border (and prompting Arizona to pass a law to address this problem), Friedman writes that “Mexico has become much more critical to American foreign policy and merits more of our attention.” 

The immigration issue aside, Friedman’s column focuses primarily on the current economic condition of Mexico and the impact it has had on the country.  Though 75 percent of the population identifies itself as “middle class,” about 40 percent of Mexicans live below the poverty line.  They have little chance of ever climbing above that threshold as union control has resulted in Mexico having one of the worst public education systems in the world…despite being an oil-rich nation.  Thus, until Mexicans ever see “real political/economic reform” in their country, what other options are available to them other than to pack their bags and head north?  Or worse, join the local gang or drug trafficking operation?

Meanwhile, in her Wall Street Journal column The Big Alienation, Peggy Noonan cites immigration reform as the latest contributing factor to the ever-expanding fault line between the American people and their government in Washington.  On the one hand, Washington says, “We control everything;” but in the same breath declares, “You’re on your own,” explains Noonan.  Add to this sentiment the toxic combination of debt crises and bankruptcy fears shared by states and you have “the makings of the big alienation…followed by full-blown antagonism, and antagonism by breakage,” which, in a way, symbolizes Arizona at this time.

Noonan acknowledges that immigration reform has been a hot-button issue through two administrations now, yet “Washington deliberately did nothing” because of the political costs.  With the Hispanic vote growing rapidly through each election cycle, neither party wants to take the calculated risk of upsetting and ultimately losing a critical voting bloc.  Thus, party interests have been put ahead of the interests of Americans on this issue (as with most issues), forcing states like Arizona to say “enough is enough” and proceed on their own with immigration reform.

Putting Friedman and Noonan’s analyses into context, perhaps it’s time for Washington to take a good look at the primary source of illegal immigration and start there in discovering a path toward meaningful reform.  Who knows?  Perhaps Washington will notice just how much it has in common with Mexico City in terms of putting politics above the people and consequently be driven to take action on immigration reform…but when?

Written by Stephanie

May 6, 2010 at 5:02 am

Immigration Reform Back in the Spotlight

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For the first time since legislation to deal with this issue died in Congress three years ago, immigration reform made its way back into the headlines this week. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a measure that makes it illegal to be an illegal resident in her state. She immediately faced harsh criticism from pro-illegal immigration advocates and President Obama, who all vowed to challenge the law in the courts. Unless the courts intervene, the new law will take effect in 90 days.

Governor Brewer’s actions reignited the raging debate over immigration reform in the United States as opponents of Arizona’s new law claim that it violates civil rights and will result in racial profiling. What I find interesting in the modern debate over immigration reform is that such opposition to meaningful legislation intended to uphold the rule of law always factors racial politics into the equation. Those who favor border security, for example, are considered racist and their arguments in support of tough immigration reform measures tend to go entirely unnoticed.

The New York Times story today, for instance, focuses on what Arizona’s new law will mean for the state’s Hispanic population, both legal and illegal, and what advocacy groups are hoping to do to prevent it from taking effect. Nowhere in the story, however, is there a single quote from someone in support of the law, such as a family member of Robert Krentz. Krentz, a rancher, was brutally murdered earlier this year by a smuggler crossing the border between Mexico and Arizona. His murder sparked outrage over the ongoing immigration mess in Arizona and pressured state legislators to act by drafting and passing the legislation signed by Governor Brewer.

Other sources the New York Times and its fellow media outlets may wish to consider interviewing for future stories on the immigration debate are Mark Krikorian and Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies. Though Krikorian and Camarota would speak primarily on behalf of the anti-amnesty, pro-border security side of the immigration debate, their knowledge and expertise on the issue would shed a bright light on the underlying facts and data the public needs to be aware of. Too often, as is currently the case, this debate is dominated by the perception of racism and civil rights violations as opposed to the overall impact of illegal immigration on federal and state budgets and the American economy.

Following Governor Brewer’s bold action this week, the debate over immigration reform is here to stay through November’s midterm elections. Already, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are feeling the pressure both from Obama and the public to act on immigration by the end of the current Congressional session. Thus, we’ll likely see more headlines concerning immigration reform in the coming months. The question is: will they be slanted toward the pro-amnesty side? Will they accuse the anti-amnesty side of being racist? Will they even contain the latest immigration data in the U.S?

With an issue as controversial and hotly debated as immigration reform, the public has a right to know every argument made by every side involved in the debate. In this sense, media outlets have an obligation to ensure the public is well-informed of the facts surrounding this issue, and not just the politics involved.

Interestingly, a recent poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports on the new law in Arizona found that 70 percent of likely voters actually favor it.

Written by Stephanie

April 24, 2010 at 8:08 pm