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     Part IV of this series looks at the new Arizona law on immigration. Its basic provisions are described as well as some difficulties and legal issues attendant to it. Since most Americans are only aware of “rhetoric-plaqued” information and mis-information promulgated by the media, it is important that the reader be given an honest, accurate portrayal of the facts.

What is the Arizona Law all about?

     The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (introduced as Arizona Senate Bill 1070, often referred to simply as Arizona SB 1070) is a legislative act in the state of Arizona. It is the broadest and 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, authorizes state and local law enforcement of federal immigration laws, and cracks down on those sheltering, hiring and transporting illegal aliens. The paragraph on intent in the legislation says it embodies an “attrition through enforcement” doctrine.

     Critics of the legislation say it encourages racial profiling, while supporters say the law simply enforces existing federal law. The law was modified by Arizona House Bill 2162 within a week of its signing with the goal of addressing some of these concerns. There have been protests in opposition to the law in over 70 U.S. cities, including boycotts and calls for boycotts of Arizona. Polling has found however that the law has widespread majority support in Arizona and nationwide.

     U.S. federal law requires aliens 14 years old or older who are in the country for longer than 30 days to register with the U.S. government, and to have registration documents in their possession at all times. The Act makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents, and obligates police to make an attempt, when practicable during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest”, to determine a person’s immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien.

       Any person arrested cannot be released without confirmation of the person’s legal immigration status by the federal government pursuant to § 1373(c) of Title 8 of the United States Code. A first offense carries a fine of up to $100, plus court costs, and up to 20 days in jail; subsequent offenses can result in up to 30 days in jail (SB 1070 required a minimum fine of $500 for a first violation, and for a second violation a minimum $1,000 fine and a maximum jail sentence of 6 months). A person is “presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States” if he or she presents any of the following four forms of identification: a valid Arizona driver license; a valid Arizona nonoperating identification license; a valid tribal enrollment card or other tribal identification; or any valid federal, state, or local government-issued identification, if the issuer requires proof of legal presence in the United States as a condition of issuance.

     The Act also prohibits state, county, or local officials from limiting or restricting “the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law” and provides that any legal Arizona resident can sue such agencies or officials to compel such full enforcement. If the person who brings suit prevails, that person may be entitled to reimbursement of court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

     In addition, the Act makes it a crime for anyone, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, to hire or to be hired from a vehicle which “blocks or impedes the normal movement of traffic.” Vehicles used in such manner are subject to mandatory immobilization or impoundment. Moreover, for a person in violation of a criminal law, it is an additional offense to transport an alien “in furtherance” of the alien’s illegal presence in the U.S., to “conceal, harbor or shield” an alien, or to encourage or induce an alien to immigrate to the state, if the person “knows or recklessly disregards the fact” that the alien is in the U.S. illegally or that immigration would be illegal.

     Violation is a class 1 misdemeanor if fewer than ten illegal aliens are involved, and a class 6 felony if ten or more are involved. The offender is subject to a fine of at least $1,000 for each illegal alien involved. The transportation provision includes exceptions for child protective services workers, and ambulance attendants and emergency medical technicians.

     On April 30, the Arizona legislature passed, and Governor Brewer signed, House Bill 2162, which modified the Act that had been signed a week earlier, with the amended text stating that “prosecutors would not investigate complaints based on race, color or national origin.” The new text also states that police may only investigate immigration status incident to a “lawful stop, detention, or arrest”, lowers the original fine from a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $100, and changes incarceration limits for first-time offenders from 6 months to 20 days.

Why Arizona felt the Need to Pass SB 1070

     One of the basic assumptions people make is that people from Arizona were fed up with the U.S. government’s inability to get the job of immigration reform going. Consequently, this served as the state’s primary motivation for passing SB 1070. Too many felt the federal government had been “impotent/and or incompetent ” for decades when it came to either enforcing or reforming federal immigration laws. This assumtion is in fact true. However, the motivations to pass SB 1070 run deeper than that. Arizona is the first state with such a law as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. Prior law in Arizona, and the law in most other states, does not mandate that law enforcement personnel ask about the immigration status of those they encounter. Many police departments discourage such inquiries to avoid deterring immigrants from reporting crimes and cooperating in other investigations.

     Arizona has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants, a figure that has increased fivefold since 1990. As the state with the most illegal crossings of the Mexico-United States border, its remote and punishing deserts are the entry point for thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans. By the late 1990s, Tucson Border Patrol Sector had become the location for the most number of arrests by the United States Border Patrol.

     Whether illegal immigrants commit a disproportionate number of crimes is uncertain, with different authorities and academics claiming that the rate for this group was the same, greater, or less than that of the overall population. Perception bias leads many on both sides of the debate to reject, not recognize, or rationalize crime rate statistics.

     There was also anxiety that the Mexican Drug War, which had caused thousands of deaths, would spill over into the U.S. Moreover, by the late 2000s, Phoenix was seeing an average of one kidnapping per day, earning it the reputation as America’s worst city in that regard.

     Arizona has a history of passing restrictions on illegal immigration, including legislation in 2007 that imposed heavy sanctions on employers hiring illegal immigrants. Measures similar to SB 1070 had been passed by the legislature in 2006 and 2008, only to be vetoed by Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano. She was subsequently elevated to Secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama administration and was replaced by Republican Secretary of State of Arizona, Jan Brewer. There is a similar history of referenda, such as the Arizona Proposition 200 (2004) that sought to restrict illegal immigrants’ use of social services. The ‘attrition through enforcement’ doctrine is one that think tanks such as the Center for Immigration Studies have been supporting for several years.

Launching of SB 1070

     Impetus for SB 1070 is attributed to shifting demographics leading to a larger Hispanic population, increased drugs-and human smuggling-related violence in Mexico and Arizona, and a struggling state economy and economic anxiety during the late-2000s recession. State residents were also frustrated by the lack of federal progress on immigration, which they viewed as even more disappointing given that Napolitano was in the administration.

     The major sponsor of and legislative force behind the bill was State Senator Russell Pearce, who had long been one of Arizona’s most vocal opponents of illegal immigration. He had successfully pushed through several prior pieces of tough legislation against those he termed “invaders on the American sovereignty”.

     Much of the drafting of the bill was done by Kris Kobach, a professor at the University of Missouri—Kansas City School of Law and a figure long associated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform. He had written immigration-related bills in many other parts of the country. Pearce and Kobach had worked together on past legislative efforts regarding immigration, and Pearce contacted Kobach when he was ready to pursue the idea of the state enforcing federal immigration laws. The Arizona State Senate approved an early version of the bill in February 2010. Saying, “Enough is enough,” Pearce stated figuratively that this new bill would remove handcuffs from law enforcement and place them on violent offenders.

     The killing of 58-year-old Robert Krentz and his dog, shot on March 27, 2010, while doing fence work on his large ranch roughly 19 miles (31 km) from the Mexican border, gave a tangible public face to fears about immigration-related crime. Arizona police were not able to name a murder suspect, but traced a set of footprints from the crime scene south towards the border, and the resulting speculation that the killer was an illegal alien increased support among the public for the measure. For a while, there was talk of naming the law after Krentz. Some state legislators (both for and against the law) believed, however, that the impact of the Krentz killing has been overstated as a factor in the bill’s passing.

     The bill, with a number of changes made to it, passed the Arizona House of Representatives on April 13 by a 35–21 party-line vote. The revised measure then passed the State Senate on April 19 by a 17–11 vote that also closely followed party lines. All but one Republican voted for the bill, ten Democrats voted against the bill, and two Democrats didn’t vote.

Opinion polls

     A Rasmussen Reports poll done nationally around the time of the signing indicated that 60 percent of Americans were in favor, and 31 percent opposed, to legislation that allows local police to “stop and verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant.” The same poll also indicated that 58 percent are at least somewhat concerned that “efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants will also end up violating the civil rights of some U.S. citizens.”

     A national Gallop Poll found that more than three-quarters of Americans had heard about the law, and of those who had, 51 percent were in favor of it against 39 percent opposed. An Angus Reid Public Opinion poll indicated that 71 percent of Americans said they supported the notion of requiring their own police to determine people’s status if there was “reasonable suspicion” the people were illegal immigrants, and arresting those people if they could not prove they were legally in the United States.

     A nationwide New York Times/CBS News poll found similar results to the others, with 51 percent of respondents saying the Arizona law was “about right” in its approach to the problem of illegal immigration, 36 percent saying it went too far, and 9 percent saying it did not go far enough. Another CBS News poll, conducted a month after the signing, showed 52 percent seeing the law as about right, 28 percent thinking it goes too far, and 17 percent thinking it does not go far enough. A 57 percent majority thought that the federal government should be responsible for determining immigration law.

     A national Fox News poll found that 61 percent of respondents thought Arizona was right to take action itself rather than wait for federal action, and 64 percent thought the Obama administration should wait and see how the law works in practice rather than trying to stop it right away. Experts caution that in general, polling has difficulty reflecting complex immigration issues and law.

     Another Rasmussen poll, done statewide after several days of heavy news coverage about the controversial law and its signing, found a large majority of Arizonans still supported it, by a 64 percent to 30 percent margin. Rasmussen also found that Brewer’s approval ratings as governor shot up, going from 40 percent of likely voters before the signing to 56 percent after, and that her margin over prospective Democratic gubernatorial opponent, State Attorney General Terry Goddard (who opposes the law) widened.

     A poll done by Arizona State University researchers found that 81 percent of registered Latino voters in the state opposed SB 1070. This would suggest that race is a more important factor among some groups in society than is the fact that the law applies only to illegals who break our laws. Every time an illegal enters this country he is violating the soverign territory of the United States.

Opinions Expressed by Mexico Government

     Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s office said that “the Mexican government condemns the approval of the law [and] the criminalization of migration.” President Calderón also characterized the new law as a “violation of human rights”. Calderón repeated his criticism during a subsequent state visit to the White House.

     The measure was also strongly criticized by Mexican health minister Jose Angel Cordova, former education minister Josefina Vazquez Mota, and Governor of Baja California Jose Guadalupe Osuna Millan, with Osuna saying it “could disrupt the indispensable economic, political and cultural exchanges of the entire border region.” The Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a travel advisory for its citizens visiting Arizona, saying “It must be assumed that every Mexican citizen may be harassed and questioned without further cause at any time.”

     In response to these comments, Chris Hawley of USA Today said that “Mexico has a law that is no different from Arizona’s”, referring to legislation which gives local police forces the power to check documents of people suspected of being in the country illegally. Immigration and human rights activists have also noted that Mexican authorities frequently engage in racial profiling, harassment, and shakedowns against migrants from Central America.

Reaction Among U.S. Government Officials

     In the United States, supporters and opposers of the bill have roughly followed party lines, with most Democrats opposing the bill and most Republicans supporting it. The bill was criticized by President Barack Obama, who called it “misguided” and said it would “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.” Obama did later note that the HB 2162 modification had stipulated that the law not be applied in a discriminatory fashion, but the president said there was still the possibility of suspected illegal immigrants “being harassed and arrested”.

     He repeatedly called for federal immigration reform legislation to forestall such actions among the states and as the only long-term solution to the problem of illegal immigration. Governor Brewer and President Obama met at the White House in early June 2010 to discuss immigration and border security issues in the wake of SB 1070; the meeting was termed pleasant, but brought about little change in the participants’ stances.

Legal Challenges to SB 1070

     I think it’s fair to say that the initial reaction to the Arizona law has bordered on hysteria. This hysteria was reinforced by the media in such a way as to bring out rhetoric , but nothing approximating a well-reasoned concrete analysis of the facts.

     Many organizations such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced their intention to file legal action against the Arizona Statute based on constitutional grounds. The ACLU criticized the Arizona Statute as a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, which gives the federal government authority over the states in immigration matters and provides that only the federal government can enact and enforce immigration laws.  

     Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional scholar and dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law says that “The law is clearly pre-empted by federal law under Supreme Court precedents.” However, that legal argument is countered by one of the bill’s author, Kobach, who says the law embodies the doctrine of “concurrent enforcement” – i.e., that the state law parallels applicable federal law without any conflict – and he believes it would thus survive any challenge: “There are some things that states can do and some that states can’t do, but this law threads the needle perfectly…. Arizona only penalizes what is already a crime under federal law.” State Senator Pearce noted that some past state laws on immigration enforcement had been upheld in federal courts. In Gonzales v. City of Peoria (9th Cir. 1983), the Court held that the Immigration and Naturalization Act precludes local enforcement of the Act’s civil provisions but does not preclude local enforcement of the Act’s criminal provisions. The U.S. Attorney General may enter into a written agreement with a state or local government agency, under which that agency’s employees perform the function of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens in the United States; however, such an agreement is not required for the agency’s employees to perform those functions.

     However, various legal experts were divided on whether the law would survive a court challenge, with one law professor saying it “sits right on that thin line of pure state criminal law and federally controlled immigration law.” Past lower court decisions in this area were not always consistent and a decision on the bill’s legality from the U.S. Supreme Court is one possible outcome. Other lawsuits have been filed over the new Arizona law, many involving many other legal issues such as racial profiling, local police responsibility in immigration laws, resource issues, Fourteenth Amendment and Equal Protection Law, First Amendment (free speech), and the  Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure).

     It is possible that all the suits would be combined into one case for the courts to hear. Kobach remained optimistic that the suits would fail, saying “I think it will be difficult for the plaintiffs challenging this. They are heavy on political rhetoric but light on legal arguments.” In late May 2010, Governor Brewer issued an executive order to create a legal defense fund to handle suits over the law. Brewer got into a dispute with Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard over whether he would defend the law against legal challenges, as a state attorney general normally would. Brewer accused Goddard, who opposed the law personally and was one of Brewer’s possible rivals in the gubernatorial election, of colluding with U.S. Justice Department as it deliberated whether to challenge the law in court.

Discussion and a Suggestion

     In its final form, HB 2162 limits the use of race. It states: “A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.”

      The U.S. and Arizona supreme courts have held that race may be considered in enforcing immigration law. In United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, the U.S. Supreme Court found: “The likelihood that any given person of Mexican ancestry is an alien is high enough to make Mexican appearance a relevant factor.” The Arizona Supreme Court agrees that “enforcement of immigration laws often involves a relevant consideration of ethnic factors.” Both decisions say that race alone, however, is an insufficient basis to stop or arrest.

     Every year in the United States millions upon millions of people fill out two important legal documents: (1) Federal Income Tax Form 1040, and (2) their respective State Income Tax forms. Anyone who fails to either pay their taxes or file correct income tax forms is already under the watchful eye of both federal and state governments. Everyone is required to sign their tax forms, creating the conditions for checking the truthfulness of the statements signed off on.

     Consequently, it would be useful as an investigatory tool if both federal and state individual income tax forms were modified to include a section verifying country of origin, hospital where born including address or midwifery verifications, photocopy evidence of a legitimate birth certificate, and a box to be checked indicating US citizenship/non-citizen status. Those tax returns that are deemed suspicious could then be further investigated.

     State governments could take a leadership role here and start modifying its individual income tax forms accordingly. Getting the federal government to modify the individual federal income tax form 1040 will take (no pun intended) an act of Congress. Where state governments are concerned, perhaps Arizona could be the first state in the nation to modify its individual state income tax laws to incorporate the changes I’ve recommended.

Note: Much of the material written in this Blog was obtained from Wikipaedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

 

 

 

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     In Part III I will attempt to evaluate the impact of immigration, specifically illegal immigration. It is perhaps linguistically amusing to note the definition and how such a word as “Impact” is defined, and how it fits so well into this discussion of illegal immigration.  Impact is defined as the collision of one body against another; collision; or the  force of a collision, or to press closely or pack in. And indeed, there is a kind of social collision going on all across the nation right now as the issue of illegal immigration is debated.

      No where is there a better way to measure such a social collision and impact than to evaluate the differing attitudes and beliefs regarding this issue. Like many social issues, “attitudes and beliefs” (for better or worse) seem to trump facts, logic and reason. This is not surprising given that all facts are valued in a different way or evaluated always within a social context. Writers like myself can impart facts but public opinion is usually all about “feelings.” So if feelings are the measure of impact—what is the impact?

      I have chosen to communicate such impact through a social science research methodology known as public opinion polls. They have their strengths and weaknesses and sampling errors, but I think that collectively (A kind of Meta-Evaluation Assessment) they can give the reader direction of opinion that is both reliable and valid.

     There are literally hundreds of polls that have been conducted at national, state, and local levels on the complex issue of illegal immigration. In terms of a sociological analysis, the issue divides people by all the relevant social and demographic variables sociologists and political analysts use: political party, age, race, gender, and  geographical area.

     I had to make some choices here to report. I chose to use American National polls, California polls, and a Zogby International Poll of people from Mexico to evaluate the perceived impact of illegal immigration. The results follow.

 AMERICAN NATIONAL POLLS

   The general public overwhelmingly favors immigration reform. Poll after poll shows that Americans want well-enforced, sensible, and sustainable immigration laws.

  • 89% of Americans think illegal immigration into the U.S. is a problem (30% “extremely serious,” 33% “very serious,” and 26% “somewhat serious.” (Time Magazine, Jan. 2006)
  • 82% think that not enough is being done along the borders to keep illegal immigrants from crossing into the country. (New York Times/CBS, May 2007)
  • 68% feel that the number of immigrants who cross the border, whether legal or illegal is “too high”. (Polling Company, Sept. 2006)
  • 62% oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens of America. (Quinnipiac Univ., Feb  2006)

     These are only a few examples of the many statistics demonstrating that Americans want lower immigration, greater enforcement, and more commitment to making immigration work in the best interests of the nation.

Categorical Issues found in National Polls

     A Rasmussen Report Poll conducted November 5, 2008 of 1,000 likely voters asked: “Is the government doing enough to secure the border?”

  • 79% responded “no,”—” it is not doing enough”.
  • 10% responded “yes.”
  •      It also asked, “Which is more important: securing the border or legalizing undocumented workers?”
  • 65% responded that gaining control of the border is more important.
  • 26% responded that legalization is more important.
  • Rasmussen Report Poll conducted from October 24-25th of 800 likely voters found that:
  • 51% opposed the DREAM Act (a form of amnesty for former and present illegal alien students) concept.
  • 68% believe the passage of the bill would encourage more illegal immigration in the future.
  • 71% believe that illegal immigrants should not qualify for in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities.
  • 77 % oppose making drivers’ licenses available to illegal immigrants.

 Legal Immigration

  • 47% want to decrease immigration. (Gallup, June 2003)
  • Only 12% support increases in immigration. (Zogby Intl. and Hamilton College, Feb. 2003)
  • 20% believe immigration should be stopped immediately, and 52% believe that “Some immigration is okay, but it should be limited and people immigrating illegally should be vigorously prosecuted.” (Zogby Intl., Feb. 2000)
  • 72% completely or mostly agree that “We should restrict and control people coming into our country to live more than we do now.” (Pew Research Center, Oct. 1999)
  • 73% think that the U.S. should strictly limit immigration. (Time/CNN, Sept. 1993)

 Immigration and Terrorism

  • 58% think that immigration should be decreased. (USA Today/CNN/Gallup, Oct. 2001)
  • 83% think that it is too easy for people from other countries to enter the U.S. (CBS News/New York Times, Sept. 2001 and Dec. 2001)
  • 77% think not enough is being done to control the border and to screen people allowed into the country. (Zogby Intl., Sept. 2001)

 Labor Issues

  • 72% said the U.S shouldn’t allow more immigrants into the country because they take American jobs. (Wall Street Journal/NBC News, Dec. 1998)
  • 86% agree that “allowing companies to hire additional temporary foreign professionals reduces employment opportunities for U.S. technical workers.” (IEEE-USA/Harris Interactive, Sept. 1998)
  • 62% agree that immigrants take the jobs of U.S. workers. (Newsweek, July 1993)

 Illegal Immigration and Amnesty

  • 55% consider illegal immigration a “very serious problem.” (Roper ASW for Negative Population Growth, March 2003)
  • 65% disagree with granting amnesty to illegal Mexican immigrants in the U.S. (Zogby Intl., May 2002)
  • 55% think that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants is a bad idea. (Zogby Intl., Sept. 2001)
  • 65% believe that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would encourage further illegal immigration, and that for this reason amnesty should not be granted. (Harris Interactive for FAIR, August 2001)
  • 67% think the U.S. should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens. (Gallup, August 2001)

 CALIFORNIA POLL DATA

     A Field Poll by the Field Research Corporation of 570 registered California voters taken from March 20-31, 2007 found that:

  • 83% support the legalization of illegal immigrants who are employed and have resided in the United States for “a number of years,” and a lower share (67%) agree to a temporary worker program for illegal immigrants.
  • 77% believe that illegal immigration is either a “very serious problem” (48%) or a “somewhat serious problem” (28%).
  • 71% agree with strengthening border patrols.
  • 63% support stiffer penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants.
  • 53% favor deporting illegal immigrants.

     A Field Poll released March 4, 2005 with a +/- 4.1% age point margin of error found:

 “A new bill currently in the U.S. Congress would effectively block states like California from providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, by requiring all states to verify that applicants for driver’s licenses are American citizens or living in the country legally.” The results were that 59% favored this action (vs. 38% opposed). Republicans supported by 78%-19%, Non-partisans by 57%-42%, and Democrats by 53%-41%. Latinos opposed by 53%-45%.

     A question also probed the issue of California adopting a measure to allow driver’s licenses for “undocumented immigrants.” The similar results were opposition by 62%-35%. However opinions were nearly equal on whether the state should issue a different non-ID license to the illegal aliens.

  • 65% said that illegal immigrants should not be eligible for services and benefits provided by state and local governments, except for emergency services.  53% said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes granting government benefits and services to illegal immigrants.  73% said that illegal immigrants should not be eligible for in-state tuition at state universities, and 68% opposed granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. (Luntz Research, October 2003)

     A Zogby International Poll of 802 registered California voters in Feb.-Mar. 2002 for Diversity Alliance probed attitudes towards immigration. The organization reported the following findings:

Q. State legislators have proposed a law allowing illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. Knowing that in California, driver’s licenses can be used as one form of identifcation to apply for welfare benefits, do you support or oppose a law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants?
A. Oppose = 67%, Support = 29%, Not Sure = 4%.
Immigrants were stronger opponents than U.S.-born respondents (71% to 67%).

Q. The state legislature proposed a law giving illegal immigrants reduced tuition to state colleges and universities. Do you support or oppose such a law?
A. Oppose = 72%, Support = 25%, Not Sure = 3%.

Q. Do you agree or disagree that employers should be required to certify that there are no American workers available for a job before an employer imports workers from overseas?

A. Agree = 68%, Disagree = 27%, Not Sure = 5%.
Immigrants were stronger supporters of a certification requirement than native-born respondents (83% to 68%).

Q. Do you think a three-year moratorium on legal immigration would be beneficial or harmful to Californians?
A. Beneficial = 43%, Harmful = 40%, Not Sure = 16%.
Immigrants viewed a moratorium as more harmful than did U.S.-born respondents (46% to 40%).

  • 62% of citizens and 71% of immigrants oppose a law that would grant driver’s licenses to illegal residents. (Zogby Intl., March 2001)
  • 82% believe that population growth over the next two decades will make the state a less desirable place to live. (Public Policy Institute of California, May 2001)

     A statewide poll by the Public Policy Institute of California released in December 1999 found immigration as the second most important issue facing California (after education).

     Eight percent of respondents identified immigration as their greatest concern compared with 28 percent for education and seven percent for crime, the third most frequently volunteered response. Other results offer a mixed picture. While most respondents see the state headed in the right direction (62% – 31%), more respondents indicated that they think the state will be a worse place to live in 2020 than a better place (43% – 25%). Some of the reasons for concern may be the growing wealth gap in the state and concern about the environment. By 72% to 23%, respondents said they expect to gap to continue to grow. By a margin of 60% to 37% respondents said they expect the quality of the natural environment to get worse rather than get better. Interestingly, 22 percent of the respondents did not want to hazzard a guess about the state’s population size, and among those who did guess, only 13% chose the correct answer (30-35 million) while 46% underestimated the population and only 19% overestimated it.

 Californians are ambivalent as to whether “the increasing diversity that immigrants bring” improves or threatens American culture. About the same number think immigrants “improve” – 39% and “threaten” – 38%. (The comparable national public opinion is “improve” – 30% and “threaten” – 42%). And they are ambivalent about whether “legal immigration is a problem.” They divide 47% to 48% saying it “is” or “is not” a problem. However, most Californians (86%) say “illegal immigrants are a problem.” A majority of Californians (54%) favor changing the law so children of illegal immigrants born here are not automatically U.S. citizens — 40% are opposed. But, most Californians (53%) would not bar illegal immigrants from attending public schools — 41% would bar them.
(Source: Los Angeles Times, Nov.2, 1997)

 THE MEXICAN PEOPLE SPEAK

 Mexicans also Feel Mexican-Americans Should Be Loyal to Mexico 

     A new survey by Zogby International finds that people in Mexico think that granting legal status to illegal immigrants would encourage more illegal immigration to the United States. As the top immigrant-sending country for both legal and illegal immigrants, views on immigration in Mexico can provide insight into the likely impact of an amnesty, as well as other questions related to immigration.

     The results are available online at the Center for Immigration Studies’ website. Among the findings:

* A clear majority of people in Mexico, 56 percent, thought giving legal status to illegal immigrants in the United States would make it more likely that people they know would go to the United States illegally. Just 17 percent thought it would make Mexicans less likely to go illegally. The rest were unsure or thought it would make no difference.

* Of Mexicans with a member of their immediate household in the United States, 65 percent said a legalization program would make people they know more likely to go to America illegally.

* Two-thirds of Mexicans know someone living in the United States; one-third said an immediate member of their household was living in the United States.

* Interest in going to the United States remains strong even in the current recession, with 36 percent of Mexicans (39 million people) saying they would move to the United States if they could. This is consistent with a recent Pew Research Center poll which found that about one-third of Mexicans would go to the United States if they could. At present, 12 to 13 million Mexico-born people live in the United States.

* An overwhelming majority (69 percent) thought that the primary loyalty of Mexican-Americans (Mexico- and U.S.-born) should be to Mexico. Just 20 percent said it should be to the United States. The rest were unsure.

* Also, 69 percent of people in Mexico felt that the Mexican government should represent the interests of Mexican-Americans (Mexico- and U.S.-born) in the United States.

* A plurality, 39 percent, of Mexicans thought that in the last year fewer people they know had gone to the United States as illegal immigrants compared to previous years. Only 27 percent thought more had gone. The rest thought it had stayed the same or were unsure.

* A plurality, 40 percent, also thought that in the last year more of the illegal immigrants they know had returned to Mexico compared to previous years. Only 25 percent thought the number returning had fallen. The rest thought it had stayed the same or were unsure.

* Both the bad economy and increased immigration enforcement were cited as reasons fewer people were going to America as illegal immigrants and more were coming back to Mexico.

     The following discussion wasn’t written by me. It came at the end of the survey and I thought it articulated very well the assessment of the data by the author and his opinion on the issue of illegal immigration and immigration policy.

Discusssion:

     As the nation begins debates the issue of immigration, the perspective of people in Mexico is important because Mexico is the top sending country for both legal and illegal immigrants. In 2008 one of six new legal immigrants was from Mexico and, according to the Department of Homeland Security, 6 out of 10 illegal immigrants come from that country. Asking people in Mexico their views on immigration can provide insight into the likely impact of an amnesty for illegal immigrants and other questions related to immigration.

     This survey is the first to ask people in Mexico if they thought legalizing illegal immigrants in the United States would encourage more illegal immigration. The survey was conducted in August and September of 2009 and consisted of 1,004 in-person interviews of adults throughout Mexico. The findings show that a majority of people in Mexico think that an amnesty would make it more likely that people in Mexico would come to the United States illegally. This is especially true for people who have a member of their households living in the United States. It is important to note that respondents were asked specifically about whether an amnesty would make illegal immigration more likely, not just immigration generally. Other questions in the survey explore attitudes about migration to United States generally, recent trends in migration, and loyalty to the United States.

     The results may give pause to those lawmakers who think that an amnesty/legalization for illegals immigrants would reduce illegal immigration in the future. The findings of this survey indicate that an amnesty would encourage more illegal immigration, at least from Mexico.

Methodology:

     The in-person survey done in Mexico for the Center for Immigration Studies by Zogby International was of 1,004 persons 18 years of age and older. The sampling framework was the most recent (2009) electoral sections defined by the Federal Electoral Institute. A multi-stage sampling procedure was employed that first randomly selected 100 electoral sections proportional to size. Second, two house blocks were randomly selected from each section. Within each block five households were selected using a systematic random procedure. The margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 3.1% for a 95% confidence level. Margins of error are larger for sub-groups.

The above is a press release dated October 14 from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: center@cis.org http://www.cis.org

SUMMARY AND AN OPINION

Summary

     The data make it clear that the vast majority of Americans want immigration reform. The data also makes it clear that the majority of Americans  oppose illegal immigration (and a good percentage want no immigration at all) and do not favor giving amnesty to illegal aliens.

     These are the highlights that I surmise constitutes the best summary of the data you’ve just read:

American National Polls

89% of Americans think illegal immigration into the U.S. is a problem. 

 68% feel that the number of immigrants who cross the border, whether legal or illegal is “too high”.

 73% think that the U.S. should strictly limit immigration. 

 71% believe that illegal immigrants should not qualify for in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities.

77 % oppose making drivers’ licenses available to illegal immigrants.

California Polls

      83% support the legalization of illegal immigrants who are employed and have resided in the United States for “a number of years,” and a lower share (67%) agree to a temporary worker program for illegal immigrants.

     Even in California however :

 71% agree with strengthening border patrols.

63% support stiffer penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants.

53% favor deporting illegal immigrants.

Poll Conducted in Mexico 

 Mexicans also Feel Mexican-Americans Should Be Loyal to Mexico 

     A new survey conducted in 2009 by Zogby International finds that people in Mexico think that granting legal status to illegal immigrants would encourage more illegal immigration to the United States. As the top immigrant-sending country for both legal and illegal immigrants, views on immigration in Mexico can provide insight into the likely impact of an amnesty, as well as other questions related to immigration.

     The results are available online at the Center for Immigration Studies’ website. Among the findings:

* A clear majority of people in Mexico, 56 percent, thought giving legal status to illegal immigrants in the United States would make it more likely that people they know would go to the United States illegally. Just 17 percent thought it would make Mexicans less likely to go illegally. The rest were unsure or thought it would make no difference.

* Of Mexicans with a member of their immediate household in the United States, 65 percent said a legalization program would make people they know more likely to go to America illegally.

* Two-thirds of Mexicans know someone living in the United States; one-third said an immediate member of their household was living in the United States.

Opinion

      Up until this point I have shyed away from giving an opinion in deference to a complete, objective presentation of facts. Before I undertook to write a five-part series on the topic of immigration (specifically illegal immigration) I honestly had a complete open mind (or no opinion at all) as to the immigration debate. Subsequently however, by learning many facts on this complex issue, I have begun to form an opinion about immigration and what is going on. It’s led to the observation that there exist a major disconnect between what the American people want on immigration and the political establishment in Washington and California. I like to think that my opinion is well-reasoned based on only the facts; however, you be the judge of that assumption.

    What does all this mean? How can one make sense of the impact of illegal immigration on the American people? When a citizen breaks the law and is on the run, most people don’t question whether law enforcement has the right to apprehend the offender and make an arrest for some offense. If law enforcement has the legal right, if not moral obligation, to bring offenders to justice, why then does it matter whether the offender is a citizen or an illegal alien? This is more than an opinion—it is the law.

     This is not the view of just some off-beat moronic right-wing conservative group, it is the opinion of a wide and diverse group of Americans who support our laws once a soverign democratic nation has spoken.

     Right now, we have a U.S. president who is doing a really fine good job on many issues like healthcare, financial reform and the economy. However, he appears to have some “CHINKS IN HIS ARMOR” or weaknesses in his moral compass on some very important issues.

     He has failed to bring to justice war criminals who committed crimes against humanity. The offenders ran the entire gamut of CIA lackeys, military personnel, and members of the Bush administration. He also dragged his feet on promises he made during his election campaign to the Gay and Lesbian citizenry, and now he wants to ignore the vast majority of Americans who want no amnesty for illegals, and who want our borders protected.  We also have a California governor who is “illegal alien-friendly” and doesn’t understand that illegals are law-breakers and are violating the soverign territory of the United States. To use the colloquial language of the street—“ illegal aliens are dissin’ us (i.e., disrespecting the American people).

     As a writer with a very pro-liberal outlook on civil rights in general, it is nevertheless appallingly clear that there is a major “disconnect” between what Americans want and the politicians who we elect to serve us. Just like Meg Whitman running for Governor of California this fall, it is clear—“we have the best politicians money can buy.” 

    And, it isn’t only politicians who are dragging their feet on supporting a viable, legal, and social policy on illegal immigration. American business is also dragging its feet. Why? Because cheap labor has been their major incentive. Consequently, the nation has been “importing” poverty for decades since data shows that 70% of all illegals have no high school diploma,  and virtually no skills.

     Right now the vast majority of Americans are against illegal immigration, in favor of protecting our borders, and opposed to amnesty. Nevertheless this majority are being vilified in the media and scapegoated by a sizeable minority of pro-illegal immigration folks. But you have to ask yourself this question. How do other countries (whether developed or undeveloped) deal with their own illegal immigration problem? Last year and in 2008, my wife and I visited Mexico as part of a Princess Cruise and the excursions the ship provided. Both times we were asked to whip out our passports upon entry into Mexico. I suspect that Mexico (just like the United States), despite its current political rhetoric castagating the new Arizona law, actually respects the soverign nature of its own country and borders as well. In my humble opinion the Mexican people are a good and decent people. We Americans are very lucky to have such good people living south of the border. For this reason, I think the opinion of the Mexican people is very important in order to have a comprehensive view of this issue. I found the survey data from Mexico itself very telling. The survey of Mexican citizens shows that Mexicans want all their citizens (including illegals) to be loyal to Mexico, and the majority feel that if the U.S. grants amnesty to illegals it will only further increase illegal immigration.

     If there is some sort of compromise reached by the U.S. Congress on the many issues of immigration, it will need to be looked at very closely. Like many other political issues compromise is mostly welcome, but not always welcome. I think immigration is one issue where the soverign nature of the United States needs to be protected and respected with no compromises at all. We’ve had enough “feet-dragging” by the U.S. Congress already. Too much compromise will also weaken our resolve to eliminate future illegal immigration.

     Where border protection is concerned modern technology needs to be employed. If border protection is deemed really important (and the American people seem to think so) then it is imcumbent upon the U.S. government to make the resources available to do the job. And, I want a four-star general to be put in charge (and responsible for) the securing of our borders. It makes no sense to me to allocate our “brightest and our best” field commanders to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq when we can’t even secure our own borders at home.

 

 


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