Arizona Law a Blow to Liberty

Kris Kobach defends Arizona’s new immigration law, SB 1070, in yesterday’s New York Times. He says, “Presumably, the government lawyers . . . will actually read the law, something its critics don’t seem to have done.” Well, I read the law and I do not like it.

Whenever a law enforcement officer makes a “lawful contact” with a person, the officer must attempt to determine that person’s immigration status if he or she has “reasonable suspicion” the person is an illegal immigrant. It is a “lawful contact” if the cops ask for a statement at the scene of an accident, for example. Illegals now have an incentive to flee even as mere witnesses. The local police or sheriff’s office cannot have a policy to counter this incentive lest they be sued. The law provides that “a person” may bring suit against any “official or agency” that has a policy that “limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.” The central provision of SB 1070 threatens to reduce the ordinary protections of the law for illegal aliens, which threatens order and security for them and everyone else.

For any law enforcement agency that loses a suit brought under the law, SB 1070 provides sanctions of at least $1,000 “for each day that the policy has remained in effect after the filing” of the suit. The money collected is to be given to Arizona’s Department of Public Safety. The right to sue would seem to apply to the Arizona’s attorney general or other employees at the state level. The law seems to create an inappropriate incentive for persons in (or allied with) the state government to sue local law enforcement agencies to increase the state’s budget.

The law says that Arizona’s attorney general “shall” investigate even anonymous complaints about a business using illegals, subject only to the constraint that the complaint not be based “solely” on “race, color or national origin.” I cannot find any language to the effect that the complaint be reasonable or credible. If a complaint is made and any other consideration is raised beyond “race, color or national origin,” then the attorney general “shall” investigate. Once a business is found to have violated the law it is subject to costly reporting requirement on all of its employees, suspension of its business licenses, and other sanctions. These provisions of the law seem to invite abuse; they seem to invite businesses to use the law strategically against rivals. Large incumbent firms have the advantage in such a game. Thus, the law will have a strong anti-competitive effect.

And if the authorities surreptitiously entice an employer into hiring illegal immigrants, an employer mounting an entrapment defense has the burden of proof to show he or she “was not predisposed to commit the violation.” This provision of the law makes an entrapment defense difficult to mount, thus reducing a constraint on potential abuses of law enforcement.

I do not know whether the law can withstand constitutional challenge. Be it constitutional or not, however, no friend of liberty should support SB 1070.

About Roger Koppl 11 Articles

Affiliation: Fairleigh Dickinson University

Roger Koppl is a Professor of Economics and Finance in the Silberman College of Business and Director of the Institute for Forensic Science Administration (IFSA).

Professor Koppl earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics from Auburn and New York Universities, and B.A. in Economics and Mathematics from Cleveland State University.

Visit: FDU

6 Comments on Arizona Law a Blow to Liberty

  1. It might help you read the bill, Roger. The law specifically states that officers do not need to enforce it if it may inhibit the investigation of a crime.

    Your example of a car accident would fit this perfectly..the officers would not inquire about immigration status. They could not be sued because it would be part of the law.

    Want to retract?

    • Yes, the law allows for discretion on the part of law enforcement officers, but that’s not the point. The PERCEPTION among the population at large is that they can and WILL be questioned about their immigration status during ALL encounters with law enforcement officials of any stripe or jurisdiction. This will have an immense chilling effect, which will undoubtedly hinder our city, county and state cops on the ground in rather dramatic fashion. Police officers rely on the unfettered flow of INFORMATION from people out there in the communities they are charged with protecting. Their eyes and ears are the people, but this law will send many of these people into hiding. Many of those eyes and ears will now avoid cops at all costs under all circumstances, regardless of whether the law permits police officers to use their own discretion when it comes to enforcing the law. Also, the law will make police agencies vulnerable to law suits, since it gives citizens the right to sue police agencies if they believe the law is not being enforced. Finally, this law can and WILL lead to racial profiling and harassment of legal immigrants and natural-born citizens, too. Will legal immigrants be asked for their “papers” and interrogated now during every routine traffic stop? Will these legal immigrants be detained if they don’t happen to have a birth certificate on hand? Will every brown-skinned citizen, including natural-born citizens, now have to carry a birth certificate in order to travel freely in his/her own community for fear of harassment and/or detainment by local law enforcement officials? Surely, you understand this thing is a huge can of worms that will do nothing to address the roots of the illegal immigration problem.

  2. 30 million illegal aliens are enough. Any thing Arizona can do to turn back the tide will be welcomed by the American people. Illegals have had a lot to do with the bankruptcy of California. They have few skills. They generally work low paying jobs with no benefits. They fill the prisons. They tax the court system. They overwhelm the schools. They swamp hospital emergency rooms. They send their money out of country. They are not upwardly mobile because they do not speak the language of the land. Obama and the Democrats would like to go for amnesty but won’t because they know they are on the wrong side. The American people will kick Democratic butt the first Tuesday in November. It is time to enforce the laws that has been on the books for years. Democrats actively work to subvert the law because demographics is destiny and they know that new immigrants vote democratic about 3.5 to 1. Roger Koppl talks about “a blow to liberty.” But 30 million illegal immigrants are a real blow to the liberty of law abiding Americans and we have had just about enough.

    • Buzz: You are misinformed. Many cost-benefit analyses show that undocumented workers as a whole pay more into the system than they take away. There are isolated examples of undocumented immigrants putting a strain on social services, but the existence of a large, low-wage labor pool in America GENERALLY does more economic good than harm, based on empirical studies. Perhaps that’s why the government isn’t in more of a hurry to deport these folks. Contrary to popular belief, many undocumented workers DO pay taxes, including income tax, sales tax and excise taxes. Many of them also pay into Social Security and Medicare, yet most do not qualify for, nor do they receive money from these programs. Moreover, most undocumented workers do not file a tax return. In this light, it’s understandable how many studies have shown undocumented laborers are actually pumping more money into the economy and into entitlement programs than they are taking out by a ratio as high as 17:1. Of course, business owners love the low-wage labor, which leads to larger profit margins, more jobs and a more vibrant economy overall, which benefits everyone, including native citizens. Beyond all of this, the law in Arizona will undermine public safety for a myriad of reasons, which is why many law enforcement agencies oppose it. It also is likely to lead to racial profiling and harassment of LEGAL immigrants. In short, it is a Draconian law that is misguided and ill-conceived, and it will do nothing to mitigate the legitimate problems associated with illegal immigration as it does not address the ROOTS of these problems. It certainly is NOT “welcomed” by this American citizen, and most other thinking people across the country. I am white, by the way, a U.S. citizen by birth, and a military veteran.

    • Unfunded mandates by California’s kooky legislators, things like Proposition 13, and unbridled spending (by government and ordinary citizens alike) have all bankrupted California. It’s not the undocumented workers, who are providing low-wage labor where it’s needed and demanded, who are shopping in our stores, paying sales and excise taxes, and in many cases paying income tax and entitlement taxes without actually taking money from the government pot. If more so-called right-wingers actually understood true conservatism instead of only clinging to and regurgitating everything the GOP feeds them through organizations like FOX and so-called “news” radio, our country would be in much better shape. At least we’d have informed citizens who think for themselves. P.S. – Many of those hospital closures in southern Cal were the result of unfunded mandates; not undocumented workers looking for free emergency room care. And anyway, there are plenty of citizen and legal residents (millions in fact), who can’t afford healthcare in this country. It’s not just the “illegals.” That’s why medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S.

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