29 April 2010

I was wrong. Opponents know what's in Arizona's law. They are opposed to all immigration laws.

I have to admit, I had it all wrong. I thought opponents of Arizona's new law just hadn't read it for themselves.

That's why, in a previous post, I explained that Arizona law enforcement has not been given any new, broad powers to demand "papers, please," of random passersby; and that legal resident aliens were already required to carry documentation with them at all times - and had been so required under Federal law since FDR was president.

Under the new law, the circumstances under which police officers may seek documentation of immigration status are bounded by "lawful contact" and "reasonable suspicion," exactly like every other offense on the books.

These two concepts are well-defined through generations of law and precedent. If you can't accept those as the bars law enforcement has to clear before they can start poking around in your business, then you don't really object to the Arizona law per se, you object to any enforcement of immigration laws.

I guess that should have been obvious to me, as it falls in line with my cynical view of the political left. They do not care about facts. They will say anything to get their way. Once again, they are doing it. They know perfectly well there are no draconian measures in Arizona's law; they know it is not fascist or racist or extreme.

But they also know it will result in enforcement of existing immigration laws, and that's what they really oppose.

25 April 2010

Arizona's "radical" law isn't about new requirements - it's about enforcing old ones

I keep reading about the "harsh" new Arizona immigration law, passed as Arizona Senate Bill 1070. I think most people would be surprised to learn that many of the law's new provisions are not already the law across the land, and many opponents of the law would be surprised to learn that it simply does not do what they think it does.

In particular, virtually every opponent, from Saturday Night Live's Seth Myers to the New York Times decries the law's requirement to carry identification papers. The Times says it "would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime."

Only the law does no such thing. Nobody is required under Arizona's new law to carry identification papers at all times.

Now, it is a fact that Lawful Permanent Residents must have their identification ("green cards") in their possession at all times, as must holders of temporary work permits. But that isn't new, and it isn't a requirement of Arizona's law - it has been required for decades under Federal law, specifically, 8 U.S.C. § 1304 (e).

The Arizona law does list certain documents you can present to prove your citizenship if it is in question, including an Arizona Driver's License. That is not a requirement to carry such papers.

It should be noted, I suppose, that in Arizona, as in every other state in the nation, if you are pulled over while actually driving, you are already required to show your driver's license. There are no new provisions of law to make it easier to pull cars over, and no licensed driver will have his citizenship questioned during a traffic stop.

One new provision in this law is that police officers in Arizona, if arresting suspects for a crime, are now required to determine citizenship status of the suspect. Most Americans, I think, would be surprised to learn that this is not already standard procedure. In fact, though, in many jurisdictions in this country, police are specifically prohibited from inquiring into the citizenship of arrested suspects.

Think about that. In Arizona, police are now simply empowered, after arresting somebody, to determine who that person is, and where he is from. Pretty radical, huh?

Arizona's new law is only eighteen pages long. It does not impose any new requirements on citizens or legal residents, it only empowers state agents to more effectively enforce existing Federal laws.

20 April 2010

Where are the Tea Party policy proposals? How about three simple rules?

In addition to the ongoing attempts to portray Tea Partiers as racist domestic terrorists, the newest line being passed around the liberal commentariat is that the people at these demonstrations aren't offering any solutions of their own.

It is a pretty bizarre notion that any political demonstration consists of people with detailed policy proposals emblazoned on their signs. Nobody stood watching anti-draft demonstrations of the 1960s, scratching their chins and saying, "I just don't understand what these people want. Where is their policy proposal? They just keep shouting 'Hell no, we won't go!' Go where?"

Still, just to help clear things up for those dimwitted enough to actually not understand the purpose of these ongoing demonstrations, allow me to lay out what I believe are a few beliefs of the majority of Tea Party demonstrators. Despite their simplicity, these are serious "policy proposals" nonetheless:

  1. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. The Tea Party crowd does not care that Bush's budgets spent too much. Bush is not in office any more. They don't believe two wrongs make a right. They don't believe a ticket for going 80 on the freeway is the same as a ticket for driving 120 in a school zone. Most importantly, they can do math, and they live in the real world. They can see that annual deficits measured in trillions are completely unsustainable, and they are utterly baffled as to why those in charge of the White House and Congress can't understand this simple truth, and instead keep committing all of us to more and more spending. We don't have the money. We're not going to get the money. SO STOP SPENDING IT. NOW.
  2. STOP TRYING TO RUN ALL OF OUR AFFAIRS. Every day, it seems, we hear about a new invasion of the government into another business or sector of the economy. GM is now Government Motors; via TARP, the Feds have taken control of a large chunk of banking; they now want to overhaul financial regulations to give even more government control to that sector; they've taken full control of student loans; they are taking over the medical industry - the list is seemingly endless. Who do these people in government think they are? Send them to do a simple, well-defined job, and not only do they fail at that - driving our nation into an out of control financial tailspin - now they want to get their hands into everybody else's business. DO YOUR JOB. WE CAN DO OUR JOBS JUST FINE WITHOUT YOUR HELP.
  3. TRY TO REMEMBER WHO'S THE BOSS. If Obama and the Democrats had to live in the real world, they might understand that in most places of work, the guy who writes their checks is the boss. On the other hand, they don't seem to get who's writing their checks right now. Governments have no money. People have money. Businesses pay no taxes. People pay taxes. We are the people. Our taxes are the checks that pay for your salaries, your light bills and all your crazy schemes. So when did you get this crazy idea that you get to over-rule us on how that money gets spent? We understand it's not a direct democracy; it's a representative republic. That's why our signs don't contain detailed policy proposals. They just spell out general principles. The details are your job. You see, you are servants, not rulers, and your bosses want you to spend less money, and get out of our business. Make it happen. DO YOUR JOB.
So there you have it. Policy proposals. And to think, they were right there in front of you all the time.