“The Arizona Way or the American Way?” by Mark Budman

Since I am a legal immigrant myself, I might understandably react to Arizona’s new law on immigration even more strongly than a native might. Though I am not a Latino, this issue of potential tough enforcement affects every immigrant group in America. After all, while the Latinos are the biggest slice of the immigrant community, other foreign nationals have settled in this country as well.

Quoting Arizona SENATE BILL 1070:

FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON. THE PERSON’S IMMIGRATION STATUS SHALL BE VERIFIED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

As you can clearly see, this bill is not directed just against Latinos. And the last provision is the clincher. If they catch you on Friday night, you might spend the entire weekend in the slammer until the appropriate federal office is opened.

I wouldn’t like it if a cop stopped me in the mall and even took me to the police station after overhearing me speaking in my native language to my wife. However, I have to balance my desire for privacy with the need for security of my adopted country. I wouldn’t mind carrying my passport in my pocket to show it to law enforcement at a moment’s notice, although it’s both inconvenient and demeaning—if that would, for example, help to catch a member of a Russian or any Eastern European mafia. That would be, of course, if the Arizona law’s clincher were removed.

But I am not advocating a witch-hunt against immigrants, even if they are illegal. We can’t forget that America is both a humane and pragmatic country. We can’t corner people even if they have done something wrong, and yet we can’t condone criminal behavior. There should be a path to legality for all illegal immigrants, but it has to be a pragmatic and just one.

Some cost studies claim that illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level. The bulk of the costs — some $84.2 billion — are absorbed by state and local governments.

So let’s make the illegals legal, then. Call it amnesty if you want. Call it what you want. Just give them a chance. But it should not be an entitlement. The following should be required of illegal immigrants to address the concerns of the Federal Government and local communities to make them legal:

1. Pay a fine for breaking the law—entering this country illegally. The fine should be sufficient to punish for breaking the law, but not so draconian as to cripple their finances.
2. Buy health insurance for themselves and their families.
3. Pay a special school tax, if they have school-age children, to cover the cost of second language teachers.
4. Submit to fingerprinting and other procedures for security purposes.
5. Learn English for quicker integration into the American society.
6. Be ready for immediate deportation if breaking other US laws.
7. And yes, carry Federal IDs.

Once they become legal, all restrictions should go away and the now lawful citizens should be embraced fully by society. A smart balance between the desires of the individual and the needs of the society is the path to truth and justice — and it’s not just the Arizonian, but the American way.

***

Mark Budman’s fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are about to appear in such magazines as Mississippi Review, Virginia Quarterly, The London Magazine, McSweeney’s, Turnrow, Southeast Review, Mid-American Review, the W.W. Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward, and elsewhere. He is the publisher of a flash fiction magazine Vestal Review. His novel My Life at First Try was published by Counterpoint Press to wide critical acclaim.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “The Arizona Way or the American Way?” by Mark Budman

  1. Ian Pawlowski says:

    Number 5 trumps number 3, and numbers 1, 4, and 6 happen if you break laws anyway…So this list boils down to…Learn English, buy health insurance, and get an Illegal Immigrant Federal ID card (which doesn’t actually exist, yet). Interesting take on the situation, but I don’t think that treating every brown person on an Arizona street corner like they’re wearing a turban and trying to get a ticking backpack onto an El-al flight would really solve the problem.

  2. breckgirl says:

    Mr. Budman – your notions sound like pure fiction or the dreamings of a European wanting to bring multiculturalism and diversity at any cost to Arizona. I would suggest to you that in all probability that while you, an educated and well off by most of the world’s standards, could possibly pay a fine or a special school fee. most illegal immigrants did not come here because they had any discretionary income with which to pay the items you suggest. They are the impoverished of another country, here not only for the potential income a menial or agricultural job in the US may provide, but also for the free education and healthcare. It is the very nature of our entitlement programs which are easy to cheat that make coming to the us more attractive than many other countries. Our geographic proximity and the ease with which one can slip across the border make it hard to ignore the pull to come to the US. I have known many immigrants, legal and illegal, who send their hard earned money to family back in Mexico, or Panama, as well as supporting family here – living in garages with an entire family…. These people cannot pay a fine, a special school tax and buy health insurance. You need to rethink your entire solution. You also do not understand the rule of law. Behavior has consequences. In this country too many people want to help consequences go away no matter how dastardly the behavior. Please go read up on the Bologna family and the illegal immigrant Edwin Ramos and post back to us how your solution would work in his case? Tell us what you think of the San Francisco elites who have allowed it to be come a living nightmare for the working class residents as they have made SF a sanctuary city – yet the very men responsible for this have fled SF for more well off WHITE enclaves for themselves in places like Marin and Sonoma.

  3. breckgirl says:

    By the way – to ease your search here is a link to the Bologna family story: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/11/BAM819L7NE.DTL

    Danielle Bologna lost her husband Tony and two sons ages 20 and 16 to an illegal immigrant who had been picked up several times and let loose. A violent gang member he mistakenly killed a family in trying to retaliate for losses his “homies” sustained in a gang war. There is only one solution – send them home and build an enormous fence and make sure coming into the country is controlled. Instead our courts and police are making the citizens lives miserable and letting animals like Ramos run free.

  4. thewarbler says:

    Force them all to vote Republican…Obama will have them all deported before Christmas. It’s all about votes, screw America, we need voters who need us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s