Argument: Arizona merely enforces law that aliens carry papers

Issue Report: Arizona illegal immigration law


Stan Sudero. “Arizona’s law has national support.” The Reporter. May 2nd, 2010: “As far as the so-called “show me your papers law,” federal law has long dictated that every alien, 18 years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession proof of alien registration. Failure to comply can result in a misdemeanor conviction, $100 fine and/or 30 days imprisonment for each violation.”

Kris Kobach. “Why Arizona Drew a Line.” New York Times. April 28th, 2010: “It is unfair to demand that aliens carry their documents with them. It is true that the Arizona law makes it a misdemeanor for an alien to fail to carry certain documents. “Now, suddenly, if you don’t have your papers … you’re going to be harassed,” the president said. “That’s not the right way to go.” But since 1940, it has been a federal crime for aliens to fail to keep such registration documents with them. The Arizona law simply adds a state penalty to what was already a federal crime. Moreover, as anyone who has traveled abroad knows, other nations have similar documentation requirements.”

“Examiner Editorial: Sense and nonsense regarding Arizona law.” Examiner Editorial. May 4th, 2010: “The essential context for the Arizona law is the federal measure that has been on the books since 1940 requiring all noncitizens to carry official documentation — a stamped passport, green card or work visa — showing that they are here legally. Today, whenever a person is arrested anywhere in the U.S., their immigration status can be checked by arresting officials using the federal government’s Secure Communities program.

As John Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, pointed out in Sunday’s Washington Examiner, seven Arizona counties and law enforcement officials in 158 other jurisdictions use the program now and more are being added on a daily basis. More than 33,000 illegal immigrants identified through Secure Communities have been deported since 2008. Everything the Arizona law directs local cops to do must be done in that context.

People on all sides of the immigration debate disagree on whether the federal government is doing too much or too little in protecting U.S. borders. What is beyond dispute is that the laws against illegal immigration either should be enforced or repealed. Measures like Arizona’s do nothing more than supplement laws that are already on the books and the federal resources used to enforce them. The critics should take some deep breaths and calm down.”