Special Feature: Immigration
A Response to Michael Scott's "America Must Take Stronger Measures to Halt Illegal Immigration"
by Marina Simon
In the article “America Must Take Stronger Measures to Halt Illegal Immigration” Michael Scott argues that the American government is not doing enough to enforce immigration laws and stop illegal immigration into the US. Michael Scott explains that illegal immigration is bad for the American economy and society because of several reasons, such as the cost it inflicts on the American taxpayer for education, health care and welfare, as well as that illegal immigrants take away jobs from US citizens. Michael Scott is a businessman from Southern California who lives in an area high populated with illegal immigrants. The article was published in “The Social Contract” in 2000. “The Social Contract” is a quarterly published journal that analyzes trends, events and ideas that have an impact on American society to help readers evaluate and find an opinion on different controversial topics. The article was released during times of economic hardship in the US and during the debate of offering an amnesty to illegal immigrants already living in the US. I believe that his readers are predominantly middle class US Citizens who are critical of immigration and might have had bad experiences with immigrants. Furthermore, he writes for an audience with strong religious and moral beliefs who are concerned about their financial wellbeing and professional future. He uses colloquial language and appeals to the reader’s emotions to persuade them but fails to always give valid support for his arguments.
Michael Scott starts his article giving us an insight into his experience which led him to investigate illegal immigration and its impacts on American society and economy. According to Scott (2000) the Border Patrol is not enforcing the laws as they are supposed to. He claims, “This isn’t a matter of insufficient resources or wherewithal, it’s a matter of insufficient willpower, as well as a writing-off of those individuals and organizations who want illegal immigration to succeed” (sec. 2). To prove his argument Michael Scott presents us with facts and numbers concerning illegal immigration. In this case he fails to address or refute the opposing argument, that the government has difficulties to control the border due to insufficient funds and manpower. There are other efforts that prove that the government is interested in re-establishing order and security at the southern border. President George Bush, for example, signed a legislation that authorized to build a 700-mile-long fence along the border to Mexico. Scott fails to elaborate on the facts that oppose his argument.
Furthermore, Scott (2000) mentions the aspect that immigrants are a burden to the American taxpayer’s pocket without contributing their share. He claims, that “there are 408,000 illegal immigrant K-12 students to educate at a cost to California taxpayers of approximately $2.2 billion annually, for example (sec. 1). American taxpayers take over the responsibility of paying for illegal immigrants’ health care in statewide hospitals, welfare, and the costs for incarceration of illegal aliens committing crimes, which amounts to $3.7 billion annually (Scott, 2000, sec. 1). Again, he misses to address the counterargument, which reports that the social values have not been declining due to the increasing number of immigrants. According to Wehner’s (2008) report, “… a vast number of social indicators – including the rates of teen pregnancy and sexual activity, binge drinking and smoking, abortion, drug use, education, and divorce – markedly improved, while in areas like welfare and crime, …, the improvement had the dimensions of a sea-change” (par. 31). Furthermore, the League of United Latin American Citizens and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (2004) explains that the American culture and society as we know it today is built upon immigrants from very different parts of the world and that (civil) rights and freedom for all “Americans” have been secured by many fights fought by immigrants (sec. 2). Michael Scott fails to implement the historical aspect of immigration into his argumentation, which in my opinion is a very aspect of the whole immigration debate.
Michael Scott (2000) goes on claiming arrogantly that immigrants take away jobs from natives by stating that “… perhaps the biggest lie of all – [that] Americans won’t do the work that illegal perform, the truth is that uneducated and unskilled Americans won’t live in garages with multiple families, and endure similar hardships to take on backbreaking work at below minimum wages. Get rid of illegal immigrants and wages would have to rise to attract those native-born and legal residents who lack the skills and education to do much else” (sec. 4). Many opponents though are of the opinion that it is not true that Americans would do many of the jobs now performed by immigrants. As Wehner (2004) observed, “… low skilled worker fill actual needs, (that) high-skilled immigrants have added enormous amount to our economy…” (par. 18). Although Scott (2000) argues that “there are two farm workers for every agricultural job in California” (Sec. 3), Brian Grow’s (2006) counterargument points out that the situation is even more dramatic, he states that many branches heavily rely on the labor of illegal immigrants and that they would start to cripple without their labor contributions (sec. 3). Therefore, the accusation that immigrants take away the jobs of the natives is not necessarily always true.
Finally, he mentions Proposition 187 which was on the ballot in 1994 and was designed to deny illegal immigrants social services, public education and medical care (Scott, 2000, sec. 4). The majority of California’s citizens voted yes on Proposition 187. Nevertheless, the proposition was barred from enforcement by two different courts in California and eventually voided. This incident shows that there is an apparent interest in keeping the immigrants, illegal or not, in the society because both the immigrants and the US citizens benefit one way or another. Scott on the other hand accuses the government of ignoring its own people to pursue its own interest and benefit only.
Michael Scott organized his article by topical points giving facts and numbers to support his arguments and build credibility with the audience. In some cases he considers opposing viewpoints, for example when stating his argument that immigrants take jobs away from Americans and refuting it with facts from researched studies. In other cases Scott chooses to ignore the opposing arguments, such as in the cases when the Border Patrol does not do enough to protect the border or that immigrants cost too much. His overall style and tone is fairly aggressive and dramatic. With his article he wants to convince the reader about an imminent danger that is being ignored by the government and that the reader has to take action to protect the country. Therefore, he appeals to the reader’s emotions and chooses more colloquial language and words with mostly negative connotation, such as “sucker-punched” (sec. 1), “sundry yada yada” (sec. 1) and “baloney” (sec. 2). The dramatic exaggeration and choice of negative words, such as depicting the immigrants as barbarians who leave behind “… stenches of excrement, poisoned (or throat-slit) pets and livestock, torn down fences, and lots of stolen property…,” (sec. 1) suggest that Scott has an arrogant attitude towards the immigrants and it therefore makes his argument less credible in my opinion. Scott expresses his opinion in such an extremist manner that he might alienate readers that do not completely agree or partially disagree with him. His expression of anger and frustration and his obvious appeal to the readers’ emotions is so strong that it makes the actual facts disappear into the background. Hence, he might be able to further convince an audience that already agrees with his opinion but the arguments are not supported well enough with facts to appeal to readers’ logos and persuade someone who disagrees with his point of view.
Scott, M. (2000). America Must Take Stronger Measures to Halt Illegal Immigration. Opposing Viewpoints: Illegal Immigration, Retrieved March 3, 2010, from http://find.galegroup.com/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010226219&source=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=los35397&version=1.0
Fund, League of United Latin American Citizens and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational, (2006). Mexican immigrants do not threaten American unity. Interracial America, Retrieved March 3, 2010, from http://find.galegroup.com/ ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010148246&source=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=los35397&version=1.0
Grow, Brian (2006). Illegal immigrants do not harm America's economy. Opposing viewpoints: Illegal immigration, Retrieved March 3, 2010, from http://find.galegroup.com/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010226241&source=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=los35397&version=1.0
Wehner, P. (2008). Keeping them out, letting them in. Commentary, 126.1, Retrieved Mar 3, 2010, from http://find.galegroup.com/ips/start.do?prodId=IPS
Stop Racial Profiling! – Help overturn Arizona Bill SB1070
by Marina Simon
On April 23rd, 2010 Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed a new bill called “Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (SB1070).” The bill makes it a felony to be in the United States illegally. Further, it makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in the state of Arizona without carrying registration documents. The bill allows the police to ask individuals for registration documents during a lawful stop if there exists “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country illegally. The suspected person can be detained and put in jail until the documents are produced. The fines include imprisonment for up to twenty days and fines up to $500. Additionally, the bill makes it a crime for everyone, US citizens or immigrants, to hire, transport or give shelter to any illegal immigrant. Furthermore, the bill gives Arizonans the right to sue the government if immigration laws are not properly enforced. The bill SB1070 was finally introduced after a series of other laws that came into effect during the past few years, such as the law that came into effect in 2007 penalizing employers who hired illegal immigrants and Arizona Proposition 200 in 2004 that made it a misdemeanor for public officials to fail to report persons who were applying for benefits and were unable to proof that they are citizens (Riccardi, par. 6, 7). The Arizona Senate Bill 1070 is unconstitutional because it violates federal law and civil rights and should therefore be abolished.
Arizona officials saw it necessary to take actions regarding immigration laws into their own hands because they felt that the federal government was not doing anything to help them protect the border. In 2009 there were 460,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona, which symbolized a 42% increase between 2000 and 2009 and a fivefold increase since 1990. Arizonans grew increasingly frustrated by the lack of federal progress in securing the border to Mexico and the growing Hispanic population (Taylor, par. 4). Arizona increasingly had to deal with drug- and human smuggling-related violence and crimes that were spreading across the Mexican border, culminating in at least one kidnapping per day in the city of Phoenix in 2009 and the murder of Robert Krentz, a local farmer, in 2010 (Engstrom, par. 2). The Arizona Senate Bill 1070 was introduced with the purpose to control illegal immigration from Mexico into Arizona but fails to introduce measures that protect the human and civil rights of human beings, US citizens or immigrants.
Proponents of SB1070 argue that the introduction of the bill was necessary to reduce the number of illegal aliens, deter illegal border crossing and reduce crime in the border regions (Archibold, par. 13). According to Randal Archibold, a writer for the New York Times, “illegal immigrants were a drain on the economy because they did not all pay taxes but used public services like hospitals and schools” (par. 17). Opponents on the other hand argue, that “the law doesn’t matter to someone who’s willing to risk their life crossing the border” and therefore the new law will hardly deter anybody from crossing the border anyway (Riccardi, par. 12). Additionally, “immigrants strengthened the economy by providing low-cost labor and buying goods and services... In fact, many illegal immigrants do pay taxes into the Social Security system, but never see a return on their contributions” (Archibold, par. 18, 21). Furthermore, Reverend Al Sharpton explains that “it will also lead to increased crime in those communities where people may become weary of calling the police because of immigration worries (par. 7) and chief of police in Tucson, Roberto Villaseñor, “worries that immigrants will not report crimes or turn in criminals out of fear, justified or not, they will end up deported” (Archibold, par. 14). There are also worries that “police will be wasting time harassing innocent people… this will hamper investigations of actual crimes, such as the border violence that state lawmakers are trying to stop” (weeklyreader, par. 2).
The strongest argument made by opponents of the bill is that the new law is unconstitutional because it violates and abuses human and civil rights and leads to racial profiling – the targeting of people of a certain race or ethnic group by law enforcement. Wood argues that “the bill would open the state to a raft of racial profiling and wrongful arrest lawsuits” (par. 5). Jonathan Cooper adds, “it has sparked fears among legal immigrants and U.S. citizens that they will be hassled by police because they look Hispanic… It launches Arizona into a spiral of pervasive fear, community distrust, increased crime and costly litigation” (par. 3, 4) He further explains that “Police in Arizona already treat migrants worse than animals. There is already a hunt for migrants, and now it will be open season under the cover of the law” (Cooper, par. 14). Reverend Al Sharpton goes a step further and compares the situation to “Nazi Germany, where Jews were forced to carry ID cards… Apartheid South Africa, where Blacks and whites were viciously separated… And divisive, segregationist laws of Jim Crow here in the U.S.” (par. 2). Alia Beard Rau, reporter for The Arizona Republic, goes on writing that “a group of 14 civil- and immigrant-rights organizations and 10 individuals filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's new immigration law. The lawsuit alleges that Bill 1070: Violates the federal Supremacy Clause, which states federal law pre-empts state law in any area in which Congress or the Constitution have reserved authority, by attempting to bypass federal immigration law; Deprives racial and national origin minorities of their 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law by subjecting them to stops, detentions, questioning and arrests due to race or national origin; Violates the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, because it exposes speakers to scrutiny based on, among other things, their language or accent; Violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures because it allows for "warrantless seizures of individuals in the absence of probable cause that they have committed crimes."; The law is impermissibly vague and violates a person's 14th Amendment right to due process of law; Infringes on constitutional provisions that give people the right to travel without being stopped, interrogated and detained” (par. 9). As per Nicholas Riccardi, writer for the Los Angeles Times, “Latino activists and civil right attorneys contend that profiling is already a reality…” (par. 1). Archibold further explains that “a study conducted as part of the settlement of a racial profiling suit brought against the Arizona State Police found that over a one-year period ending in 2007, blacks and Hispanics were two and a half time more likely than whites to be searched by highway patrol officers even though the rate of contraband among whites was higher than for Hispanics and about the same as for blacks” (par. 18).
Proponents of the law defend the bill and justify that it “simply empowers local police to use existing federal immigration laws” (Riccardi, par. 11). They argue that racial profiling is a legitimate tool and that law enforcement officers do not target race, but rather target certain characteristics correlated with race (Wikipedia, par. 4). Arizona governor Jan Brewer insists that “we have to trust our law enforcement. Police officers are going to be respectful. They understand what their jobs are. They’ve taken an oath, and racial profiling isn’t legal” (Archibold, par. 2). To prove that the law is not just about racial profiling the governor “made changes to the law that they say explicitly ban the police from racial profiling and allow officers to inquire about immigration status only of people they stop, detain or arrest in enforcing existing state law” (Archibold, par. 10). Additionally, Ms. Brewer signed an executive order for the “state’s police training board to develop a training course designed to guide officers in developing reasonable suspicion that somebody is an illegal immigrant” (Archibold, par. 23). Furthermore, proponents argue that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s ”tactics have enabled his deputies to identify 6,000 illegal immigrants and refer them to federal immigration authorities. In the jails he runs 32,000 others have been identified” (Riccardi, par. 9). Arpaio has repeatedly brushed off allegations of racial profiling, “Officers in Arizona are professionals. We don’t care what race people are” (Riccardi, par. 7, 10). Two-thirds of the state’s residents live in Maricopa County, 31% are Hispanic, the majority of whom are legal residents or U.S. citizens (Riccardi, par. 1, 2).
Proponents of the bill also hope that the introduction of SB 1070 will serve as a wake-up call for Washington and that the federal government finally understands the urgency of immigration reform (Wood, par. 14). As described by Reverend Al Sharpton, “Just like the marches and boycotts of the ‘60s resulted in the Voting Rights Act, perhaps this reprehensible bill will serve as a catalyst for true reform” (par. 8). Randal Archibold interprets the results of a poll conducted April 28 through May 2 with 1,079 adults by stating that “the overwhelming majority of Americans think the country’s immigration policies need to be seriously overhauled. And despite protests against Arizona’s stringent new immigration enforcement law, a majority of Americans support it” (par. 1, 3). Doreen Suran describes, “immigration laws are broken and need to be fixed. What is broken: the enforcement of existing laws, controls on the border, immigration courts, worksite verifications, enforcement and fines, verifiable identification and work permits, the length and cost of legal immigration, and the number of visas issued” (par. 5).
As a result of the introduction of the new bill “several immigrant advocates and civil rights groups, joined by members of the San Francisco government, said the state should pay economic consequences for the new law” and called for an economic boycott of the state of Arizona (Archibold, par. 2). Lourdes Medrano describes that the state’s economy could suffer under the boycotts and that “Phoenix officials have estimated that they will lose $90 million during the next five years in the hotel and convention center business. Statewide, the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association recorded 23 meetings and conventions canceled - an estimated $10 million hit - before it stopped keeping track” (par. 9). The boycotts hit mostly small businesses and make it even harder for Arizona residents to survive during these hard economic times. Many illegal immigrants moved away to find work in California, Texas and New Mexico and also avoid getting in trouble with law enforcement in Arizona (Shanks, par. 1). The migration of illegal immigrants from Arizona to neighboring states will increase the problems in the other states and therefore makes a federal immigration reform even more significant and urgent.
The new Arizona Senate Bill 1070 so far disrupted the economic, political and cultural environment of the state and the country. The state’s economic situation was already delicate before the bill was signed and resulted in a deterioration because of the boycotts. The political environment might have taken a toll because of the fact that the Hispanic population traditionally voted Republican but might develop a tendency to vote Democratic in the near future due to the extreme bill in favor of racial profiling and the fact that Hispanics are the population group that suffers the most from racial profiling in Arizona. Finally, the cultural environment has suffered because it divided the Arizonan and American population. Although the majority agrees that there is an urgency to finally get an immigration reform, the fear persists that the wrong tools have been used to enforce immigration laws. Therefore, the Arizona Senate Bill 1070 has to be overturned and replaced by a comprehensive federal immigration reform that better understands the population’s needs, fears and constitutional rights and does not ignore or attempt to eliminate them. History has proven that constitutional rights are fundamental to ensure freedom and justice for the people of the United States, no matter what race or color they are.
Alia Beard Rau. “14 organizations, 10 individuals file suit over Arizona's immigration law” The Arizona Republic 18 May. 2010
<http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/05/18/20100518arizona-immigration-law-organizations-lawsuits.html> 28 May 2010.
"Arizona immigration law steps in right direction." USA Today n.d.: Academic Search
Elite. EBSCO. Web. 30 May 2010.
Al Baker. "City Minorities More Likely To Be Frisked :[Metropolitan Desk]. " New York
Times 13 May 2010, Late Edition (East Coast): ProQuest National Newspapers
Core, ProQuest. Web. 15 May. 2010.
"Crossing The Line?." Current Events 109.25 (2010): 7. MAS Ultra - School Edition.
EBSCO. Web. 28 May 2010.
Daniel B Wood. "Arizona illegal immigration bill: draconian or common sense? " The Christian Science Monitor 15 Apr. 2010,ProQuest National Newspapers Core, ProQuest. Web. 15 May. 2010.
Engstrom, Robert M. "Arizona Officials Rebut Racial-Profiling Charges." Human Events 66.16 (2010): 13. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 28 May 2010.
Fridell, Lorie. "Profiling, Racial." Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement. Ed. Larry E.
Sullivan, et al. Vol. 1: State and Local. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Reference,
2005. 381-384. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 15 May 2010.
Document URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/
GREGORY RODRIGUEZ. "Look, it's an illegal, right? " Los Angeles Times 26 Apr. 2010,Los Angeles Times, ProQuest. Web. 15 May. 2010.
Hunt, Kasie. “Democrat: Arizona law like 'Nazi Germany'” 26 Apr 2010
<http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0410/36365.html> 15 May 2010.
Jonathan J Cooper, and Paul Davenport. "Battles loom for new Arizona law; Immigration groups and Mexican officials weighing responses. " The Washington Post 25 Apr. 2010,ProQuest National Newspapers Core, ProQuest. Web. 15 May. 2010.
Llana, Sara Miller. "Felipe Calderon calls Arizona immigration law racial profiling."
Christian Science Monitor 20 May 2010: N.PAG. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO.
Web. 22 May 2010.
Lourdes Medrano. "Arizona immigration law: boycotts starting to take a toll. " The Christian Science Monitor 25 May 2010,ProQuest National Newspapers Core, ProQuest. Web. 29 May. 2010.
Nicholas Riccardi, and Ashley Powers. "Arizona strategy: Make life tough for immigrants. " Los Angeles Times 15 Apr. 2010,Los Angeles Times, ProQuest. Web. 15 May. 2010.
Nicholas Riccardi. "Racial profiling a reality now?; An Arizona sheriff's illegal-immigration 'sweeps' already target Latinos, critics say. " Los Angeles Times 1 May 2010,Los Angeles Times, ProQuest. Web. 15 May. 2010.
Randal C. Archibold. "In Wake of Immigration Law, Calls for an Economic Boycott of Arizona :[National Desk]. " New York Times 27 Apr. 2010, Late Edition (East Coast): ProQuest National Newspapers Core, ProQuest. Web. 15 May. 2010.
RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD and MEGAN THEE-BRENAN. "Poll Finds Serious Concern Among Americans About Immigration :[National Desk]. " New York Times 4 May 2010, Late Edition (East Coast): ProQuest National Newspapers Core, ProQuest. Web. 15 May. 2010.
Randal C. Archibold. "Arizona Law Is Stoking Unease Among Latinos :[National
Desk]. " New York Times 28 May 2010, Late Edition (East Coast): ProQuest
National Newspapers Core, ProQuest. Web. 19 May. 2010.
Sharpton, Al. "Arizona -- here come the Freedom Walkers." New York Amsterdam
News 101.18 (2010): 12. MAS Ultra - School Edition. EBSCO. Web. 15 May
Shanks, Jon. “Immigrants Leaving Arizona - New Law Sends Workers to Texas,
California & New Mexico” 29 Apr. 2010 <http://www.nationalledger.com/
ledgerdc/article_272631548.shtml> 15 May 2010
Taylor Jr., Stuart. "Courts Could Void Arizona's New Law." National Journal (2010): 10.
MAS Ultra - School Edition. EBSCO. Web. 15 May 2010.
State of Arizona Senate Bill 1070