Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Tearing up the Constitution is no way to combat illegal immigration

Do two wrongs make a right? Of course not.

Then why is this fallacy being used to justify enforcement of SB 1070?

As an American citizen, do the police – federal, state or local – have the legal authority to detain me and force me to prove my citizenship (other than at the border)?

Absolutely not.

Yet proponents of SB 1070 seem to be making this argument when they repeatedly make statements to the effect of “You don’t have anything to worry about if you’re in the country legally.”


Since a person in this country illegally doesn’t turn Na’vi blue when they cross the border, it is exceedingly difficult to tell an illegal immigrant from a legal one, or from a citizen, for that matter.

So how is a police officer to tell? The Arizona Police Officers Standards and Training Board is attempting to develop the enforcement training standards for this bill, using federal immigration enforcement standards as a guide (assuming Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano allow DHS to aid Arizona in developing the standards).

But no matter the probable cause standards AZPOST develops, at some point an officer will be forced to demand and a citizen forced to produce proof of citizenship under this law.

“So what?” some have argued. “If you’re a citizen, you show your papers and away you go. What’s the problem?”

Is that what liberty has come to in America? You get to be free as long as you prove to a police agency you’re a free American?

Do freedom-loving Americans not get the gross contradiction, irony and hypocrisy in that?

Is the problem of illegal immigration so horrendous that we must give up some of our freedom in order to free ourselves of illegal immigrants?

I don’t think it is.

Using some fallacious reasoning of my own – I’ll argue that SB 1070 puts Arizona on a slippery slope.

Since I’m a citizen (and white) I have nothing to worry about under SB 1070. If I’m ever challenged, I’ll show my Arizona driver’s license and be sent on my way.

And since I’m a law-abiding citizen (unless you count speeding, in which case I’m only a mostly law-abiding citizen) I should have no problems with any of the following:

  • I don’t do drugs, so I’m fine with the government requiring me to submit to random drug testing to prove it.
  • I don’t use my phone to conduct criminal business, so I’m OK with the government listening in on my phone calls.
  • I don’t use my home for illegal purposes so I’m happy to have the police stop by any time and search it just to make sure.
  • Likewise, I don’t use my car to conduct illegal business, so I’m fine if the police stop me and search it whenever they want.
  • I don’t carry drugs or automatic weapons or anything else illegal on me when I’m out in public, so I have no problem if a police officer wants to stop me and pat me down now and again.

Of course, you will argue, I’m being silly and unreasonable with the above. There are Constitutional amendments that protect me from having to submit to such police inquisitions.

I would have to have acted in some overt way that provides a police agency probable cause to do any of the above, and with most of the above, the police would need a court order to conduct such searches.

But what overt act must you commit to be suspected of being in the country illegally, irrespective of your race or appearance? Schlepping through the desert in the middle of the night north of the border comes to mind but what if someone has run a red light in Mesa? Are there behaviors that illegal immigrants exhibit that legal immigrants and citizens don’t?

Absent an overt act, how will an officer develop “reasonable suspicion” without regard to the person’s race or ethnicity?

And if the officer develops a suspicion, under this law you must produce your papers or be locked up until such time as you prove your citizenship or legal residency status.

But since all cops are human and therefore errors will be made, which citizens are most likely to be wrongly forced to prove their citizenship under this law? Hispanic citizens.

ANY citizen who gets caught up in that has lost their liberty. And a loss of liberty for one is a loss for all.

To argue that because they are citizens they have nothing to fear if they are asked for their papers is an outrageous distortion of what it means to be a free American.

It’s not this bill’s attempt to resolve the illegal immigration problem that I object to, it’s SB 1070’s affront to liberty that offends me.

There are other, better ways to solve this problem.

Tearing up the Constitution is not one of them.

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