While some components of the new Immigration Law passed by the State of Alabama, if enacted, have troubling consequences, could it be the blueprint for the federal legislation that the President and Congress should pass?
No matter which side of the immigration issue you find yourself, the solution will have losses and benefits for all involved. This is not a case of the good guys vs. the bad guys. The government, businesses, and the illegal immigrants share the blame in where we find ourselves today. More than eleven million undocumented immigrants live and work in the United States, with more slipping across our borders daily; many businesses, knowingly, employ them at lower wages to improve their profit margins; and the government is lax on enforcing laws already on the books to stem the tide.
Turning a blind eye, here and there, and doing business as usual with “eyes wide shut” is finally coming home to roost. The issue will not continually be ignored. The Alabama law all but guarantees it.
The Alabama law, if enforced, will finally get this issue out of the perpetual holding pattern it has been in for decades. The law covers most of the major issues that federal legislation needs to address.
The law — in addition to detaining immigrants who cannot produce proof of citizenship — penalizes any person, business, or institution that knowingly transports, hires, houses, or educates undocumented immigrants.
There are concerns about how this law will be carried out. Among them, law enforcement agencies can stop and detain someone they “suspect” of being in the country illegally until they produce proper documentation. In addition to the very real issue of racial profiling, what will happen to those detainees who are here illegally? Imported? Deterred in some kind of make-shift prison or camp?
Another major concern is the children; they have absolutely no say in the decision to come here illegally or to be born here to illegal parents? While they are currently getting a secondary education — they cannot go to college or apply competitively for a job. Now, these children may not be able to get an education at all.
Alabama is not the first state to take the matter into its own hands. First, there was Arizona, followed by Georgia, Utah, Indiana, and now Alabama. (The Supreme Court recently upheld the component of the Arizona law which penalizes businesses for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.) What is to stop other states from accelerating passage of similar legislation?
But the Alabama law, the nation’s toughest to date, screams that it is time for the President and Congress to deal with the immigration issue and pass major federal legislation. With each state taking the issue into its own hands, there is the great potential of creating strife, divisiveness, human rights violations, and atrocities, throwbacks to chapters in our history that we would do well to keep closed.
What is the national policy for addressing the eleven million undocumented immigrants already living and working here? And, what will be done to stop the influx of new one?
As harsh as the Alabama law may appear, it is a wake-up call to the federal government and to the nation that the issue can no longer be skirted.
The state of Alabama has decided how it will deal with illegal immigration. Will the Alabama law become the model?