Respect for the state of Arizona and the illegal immigration problems it faces seems to have gotten lost in what has become an international debate as to whether or not Arizona has the right to determine what is best for the state itself. After all, it is Arizona that has the enormous illegal immigration problems.
Gov. Jan Brewer signed Arizona Senate Bill (S.B. 1070) into law on April 23, 2010. It is scheduled to take effect on July 28, 2010.
The law has been described as the strictest anti-illegal immigration measure in decades.
The act makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying registration documents required by federal law. The law obligates police to make an attempt, when practicable — for example, during a police stop or other official action — to determine a person's immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien.
The politically correct crowd say the new law encourages racial profiling, while supporters say the law simply enforces existing federal law.
Almost immediately there have been protests in opposition to the law in some 70 cities around the country, including calls for a boycott of Arizona.
However, polls found the law has majority support not only in Arizona but across the nation.
The law provides that police may arrest a person if there is probable cause that the person is an unlawful alien; a person arrested cannot be released without confirmation of the person's legal immigration status by the federal government pursuant to Subsection 1373(c) of Title B of the United States Code.
A first time offense carries a fine up to $100, plus court costs, and up to 20 days in jail.
Two Arizona cities, Tuscon and Flagstaff, voted to sue the state, expressing concern over the impact on tourism and the cost of enforcing the new law.
While at first glance the U.S. problem and, in particular, the Arizona problem with illegal immigration is simply a matter of Mexican and Latin American individuals crossing the Mexican-U.S. border seeking a better life and an opportunity to earn more money on the American side to send back home to their families, that may be where it started.
However, that has changed.
Border crossing points at one time were just that. Today, with drug trafficking and the transport of numbers of illegal immigrants across the U.S. border now considered a business, border crossing points have degenerated into crime scenes involving drug trading and wars between rival drug cartels.
U.S. authorities are reporting a spike in killings, kidnappings, and even home invasions connected to Mexico's drug cartels.
At least 19 Americans lost their lives in 2008. More than 200 U.S. citizens have been killed in Mexico since 2004.
More than 22,700 people in Mexico have been killed in drug-related violence since December 2006.
The drug cartels have become emboldened to the extent they are now targeting police commanders and public officials.
A study of the U.S. Joint Forces Command views the drug cartel danger to Mexico as a national life threat, possibly to the extent that a sudden collapse of that nation could occur sometime within the next two decades.
The study pointed out that Mexico's politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure all are under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and their cartels.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has taken note of the border activities, and in March 2009, stated that the department is considering the use of the National Guard to counter the threat of drug violence in Mexico that is now spilling over into the United States.
This threat was highlighted this year on March 27 with the murder of Robert N. Krantz Jr., 58, "the scion of one of the best-known and oldest ranching families in southern Arizona."
Meanwhile, amid all this turmoil and illegal immigration on the U.S.-Mexican border, President Barack Obama takes the opportunity to scold Arizona on its new illegal alien law.
Apparently, Obama's Harvard law degree did not include teaching that by its very nature, immigration — people crossing back and forth across national borders — is a federal problem. States such as Arizona should not be forced, out of desperation, to assume federal prerogatives such as immigration.
President Obama should live up to the oath he took on becoming president of the United States to defend the nation's borders.
The president has a number of departments in his cabinet charged with international responsibilities with respect to federal borders. Those departments include the Department of Defense, Department of Interior, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State.
Arizona needs federal support that relies on the strength of the entire nation.
Arizona should not be sacrificed on an altar of political correctness or whether or not the Latino vote in the United States is swayed toward the Republicans or Democrats.
E. Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and agricultural publisher, also is a national and local award-winning columnist. He welcomes comments by email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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