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Immigration Law


Illegal immigration is one of the problems faced by many countries around the world. For instance, the United States of America is home to more than ten million illegal immigrants mostly coming from the neighboring Mexico. The states along the US Mexico border are under social and economic pressure due to the high number of illegal immigrants. One of the states along this border, Arizona, has enacted a law that criminalizes illegal immigration. Since the recent developments in Arizona have sparked long-lasting debate, the situation concerning the immigration law in the USA must be reconsidered, according to Archibold (2010).


According to George Borjas (2010), the department of Homeland Security estimated in 2003 that the population of illegal immigrants in the state of Arizona was 300,000 (Borjas, 2010). However, it must be marked that this number has risen greatly since the year 2003. As a result, nowadays Arizona has the highest number of illegal immigrants in the United States of America. Borjas (2010) claims that most illegal immigrants moved to the state after 1986 amnesty. It has been confirmed that the population of the aliens has gone up since then, the high number of aliens in Arizona being alarming. Most of the illegal immigrants are Mexicans who cross over the porous US-Mexico border to run away from the harsh realities of life in their home country. By 2009, the number of illegal immigrants in Arizona had reached 700,000. The liens flooding Arizona caused much discomfort and even suffering to the state. Law enforcement agencies have been working day and night trying to apprehend illegal immigrants along the rugged US- Mexico borders, but the determination of the illegal immigrants to get into the United States of America did not cease.

Borjas writes that the addition of the National Guard soldiers at the Mexico-US border and the use of enhanced technology have done little to remedy the situation (Borjas, 2008), which is why the Arizona officials decided to usurp the role of the federal government in protecting the people. The officials of Arizona implemented stricter measures that would deter illegal immigration and scare illegal immigrants away from the state. With the help of the measures undertaken by the state government, Arizona has adopted a controversial new law that renders illegal stay in the USA a felony, which means that all illegal immigrants face the danger of getting imprisoned. Since Arizona is the leakiest portion of more than two-thousand-mile border, the continued invasion of illegal immigrants brings immense harm to the social and economic status of the state. The rates of drug trafficking have risen and insecurity in the state has reached alarming proportions, which is why there has been a huge debate concerning the immigration policy in the state. This research paper will, therefore, address the new immigration law in Arizona. First, the recent developments revolving around this law must be considered before looking at the future potential consequences of the law. The paper will then focus on the debate between the proponents and those opposing this law.

Recent Developments

The new Arizona law on immigration which comes into force on July, 29 directs the law enforcement officers to enquire about the immigration status of a suspected immigrant, especially if the latter is suspected to be in the country illegally. Because of a number of controversial clauses in it, the Arizona law, though following the federal law strictly, has received a lot of opposition, especially from human rights activists. According to John Brewer (2010), one of the most controversial clauses, a complete departure from the federal version is the requirement that every illegal immigrant should be apprehended and departed. Claiming that deportation of immigrants would lead to a complete overhaul of the system, one will automatically rate all illegal immigrants as criminals (Brewer, 2010). The law described above law has been challenged by the justice department in the state, who argues that the law is unfair to innocent immigrants that do not threaten national security. The department argues that law-abiding illegal immigrants should be treated with respect because they do not pose any threat to the security of the Arizona dwellers. Brewer supports the Justice Department, which emphasizes that the state law on illegal immigration should concentrate on weeding out socially harmful immigrants, such as drug traffickers, members of illegal gangs and all those posing a threat to the security of the people of the United States of America in general, and the residents of Arizona, in particular.

Homeland security officials have also condemned this law saying that the state government would be acting unfairly if it embarks on a mission to arrest and deport everyone who is in the state without the necessary immigration paper work. The move by the state officials to enact this law will also take into account humanitarian interests and foreign relations which the American congress has strived to safeguard. However, the proponents of the Arizona law say that this law is the most reasonable way to start dealing with the thorny issue that has been rocking the USA for decades. The federal government has since dismissed the Arizona state law on illegal immigration, saying that the new immigration law usurps federal authority and, thus, can be considered unconstitutional. In addition, the role of protecting the borders and the citizens of the United States of America is undertaken by the federal government and not the state government, which means that the Arizona law is not supposed to have the state scale it possesses now. However, Arizona has blamed the federal government of neglecting its responsibilities, forcing the Fed to concede to the reasons of Arizona officials and protect its citizens from the illegal immigrants. Opponents of this law have criticized it, claiming that the law might lead to discriminative racial profiling (Billeaud, 2011).

According to Fox News, the US government through the justice department has instituted a lawsuit against the state of Arizona for enacting the immigration law that will support a massive crackdown on all illegal immigrants (Fox News, 2010). The justice department believes that the law adopted in Arizona does not agree with the federal law. The Arizona law, according to the justice department, will allow the police to harass those people who cannot prove that they live in America legally. The justice department, which filed the suit in the federal court in Arizona (Atkinson, 2010), claims that the move by the state of Arizona to crackdown on the illegal immigrants is unconstitutional, and is trying to stop its enactment at the end of July.

According to the lawsuit, the federal immigration laws and the constitution of the United States of America do not allow individual states to develop immigration regulations. The lawsuit filed by the Justice Department challenging over the enactment of the immigration law in Arizona has led to the emergence of a heated political debate on how the country should handle more than 12 million illegal immigrants. Most of them are from Mexico and the Latin American countries.

Fox News reports that the president of the USA, Barack Obama has denounced the new law. However, many American citizens have applauded Arizona efforts despite the wide criticism that the move has received from the Hispanic groups, according to Fox News (2010). Opposing the Arizona moods, the federal government, which was democratically elected two years ago, is politically motivated because the Democrats want to gain the support of the Hispanic community during future elections. Civil rights groups have also criticized the actions of the citizens of Arizona. The groups enumerated above claim that the movement launched in Arizona is racist because it targets the Hispanics who form the largest percentage of illegal immigrants in Arizona. The civil rights groups have also sued the state of Arizona eager to stop the state from enacting the discriminatory law. One of the human rights groups that have really opposed the new immigration law in Arizona is amnesty international which claims that the law has very many loopholes that may lead to discriminative instances of racial profiling. According to the Huffington post, racial profiling occurs when a person is stopped by law enforcement officials on the basis of their color or origin and thus violating the fundamental rights of the people (Huffington Post, 2010). The law also encourages arbitrary arrests and detention of the suspects who may not prove that they have the necessary paper work immediately. Every resident of the United States, regardless of his/her status or residence, is entitled to the fundamental right to liberty, which means that immigrants have the freedom from arbitrary arrests and detentions.

James Webber, legal analyst, explains that Article 9 of the ICCPR, which is a signatory in the USA, protects immigrants regardless of their status from any unwarranted harassment and violation of their fundamental human rights, according to Webber (2010). Surprisingly enough, the police department in Arizona has also opposed the law, saying that this law will create a schism between the U.S. police and the residents. Amnesty International has been appealing to the state of Arizona to repeal the statute offering liberties for immigrants and include chapters that safeguard the immigrants’ rights. According to amnesty international, the due process during arrests and deportations should respect the human rights of the immigrants.

Future Potential Consequences of the Law

The immigration law passed in Arizona in April is one of the strictest immigration laws in the United States of America. It has already been calculated that the new immigration law may affect the relations between the people and the state authorities. James Webber, an opponent of the novelty in the legal system, says that the new immigration law has placed a very heavy burden on the people, requiring them to carry documents wherever they go to prove that they are either citizens of the United States of America or they are legal migrants, as Webber (2010) marks. The law gives the police powers to apprehend anyone suspected to be in the country illegally (New York Times, 2010). The Arizona Immigration Law has laid a big burden on the Hispanic immigrants in the state, and the police department reacted violently against this law. Fearing that the new immigration law will create a wedge between the police and the people, the USA are rather reluctant to adopt it. The new law is a very big burden that the police have to carry, given that most of the illegal immigrants are not criminals, but, on the contrary, are law-abiding citizens. The first consequence of this law is that the efficiency of the police department will be adversely affected because of the rift created between the law enforcement officials and the people. The police are supposed to protect the people and they hope that the citizens will eagerly cooperate with the police department to help the investigation process. Meanwhile, the rift created between the people and the police hinders this cooperation, which, in its turn, leads to an upsurge of insecurity in the state.

Webber also claims that the law may also have a future consequence on the welfare of the immigrant families. The immigrant families might become vulnerable to mistreatment and other forms of social injustices because they cannot turn to the law enforcement officials for help, fearing the arrest and deportation. The confrontation between the immigrants and the police implies that the illegal immigrants will become vulnerable to crime, racism, domestic violence and child abuse because immigrants cannot turn to the law enforcement authorities for intervention or any other kind of help (Webber, 2010). The law, therefore, denies them a chance to survive because their human rights including the right of security and civil protection have been infringed by the new law. It is evident that the new law is very punitive and the legislators in the state of Arizona need to be focused on the future consequences of this law especially in the political scene.

The law could have negative political ramifications on politicians like John McCain who have fervently supported the law (Webber, 2010). The Hispanic community is a very important electoral bloc in any form of elections, whereas the new immigration law targeting the Hispanic community may cost some politicians the Hispanic support they previously enjoyed. That is why the democrats led by president Barrack Obama have voiced their opposition to the law. Since the democrats know that if Arizona succeeds in enacting this law, more states that have been under the pressure of illegal immigrants might follow the Arizona example, the democrats understand that the current moods may have nationwide political consequence given that the Hispanics provide swing votes in a number of states during the national and state elections (Cents, 2010).

Finally, the new immigration law might affect the relations between the immigrants and the natives of the United States of America. According to Webber, most of the natives of United States of America hate the immigrants. The immigrants from Mexico affect resource allocation and availa bility of opportunities, compromising social amenities. It has been decided that immigrants are also responsible for the rising insecurity in the country, which means that the law might trigger racist attacks directed at the illegal immigrants because the natives know that the law is on their side. The illegal immigrants cannot report the racist incidents to the law enforcement authorities because this may mark the end of their residence in the United States, which means that the law poses a security risk for the immigrant families. In addition, the law may also strain the tense relations between the natives and the Hispanic community.

The Debate

The intention to enact laws that allow the police to arrest and detain suspected illegal immigrants and the subsequent decision by the justice department to sue Arizona has sparked a huge debate in the USA (Arpaio, 2010). The most prominent politicians involved in the debate concerning the immigration problem were President Barack Obama and his opponent in the 2008 presidential elections John McCain, the Republican senator for Arizona. According to Brewer (2010), Obama has vehemently opposed the Arizona legislation, saying that it is does not target the illegal immigrants per se but it targets the Hispanic community in Arizona. The President claims that the law is racially punitive and will strain relations between Americans and the illegal immigrants, motivating the natives to rise against the Hispanics (Brewer, 2010). Obama also claims that the law violates the international immigration laws. The President also asserts that the current immigration law is unconstitutional in the USA. Other opponents of this law assert that the law needs to be repealed, so that it could target the criminals and other law breaking illegal immigrants (Brewer, 2010). The opponents of the current immigration law claim that a number of its regulations are unethical. Moreover, the opposition is convinced that it is immoral to arrest and deport hard-working immigrants who have already married Native Americans, established their businesses, succeeded in making careers and have even given birth to children who have become American citizens. With the immigrants who have already settled in the country, once the law is enacted, it might disrupt the lives of many people in Arizona, not only the immigrants, but also the Native Americans. Thus, the law will also have a significant impact on the Native Americans who depend on the illegal immigrants or those who have family relations with the immigrants.

On the other hand, Senator John McCain supports the new immigration law fully and is going to impale the strictest measures on the illegal immigrants, since he is about to deport them without the right for return. The senator claims that illegal immigrants threaten the welfare of the state from an economic, social and security perspective. In his support of the law, McCain claims that the state is acting on the premises of the results of the federal government’s activities. Once the latter has failed to protect the state from the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico due to the porous nature of the US-Mexico border and lack of proper federal regulations to deal with the illegal immigrants, stricter measures must be applied for the sake of the country’s security, the U.S. government asserts.


Archibold, R. C. (2010). Arizona enacts stringent law on immigration. New York Times. Retrieved July, 15, 2010 from www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/us/politics/24immig.html

Arpaio, S.(2010, July). Arizona immigration law. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2010/04/29/DI2010042903420.html

Atkinson, B. (2010, July). High court to take up. Arizona immigration law. Retrieved from http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/High-court-to-take-up-Arizona-immigration-law-3260018.php

Billeaud, J. (2011, July). Arizona immigration law: Jan Brewer countersues federal government over SB 1070. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/10/arizona-immigration-law-j_1_n_821546.html

Borjas, G.J. (2008). The economics of immigration. Journal of Economic Literature, 32, 1667–1671.

Brewer, J. (2010). Peace processes. A sociological approach. Malden, MA: Polity Press.

Fox News (2010). Obama assails Arizona immigration law. Retrieved July 15, 2010, from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/04/24/obama-assails-arizona-immigration-law/

Huffington Post (2010). Arizona immigration law sparks national uproar. Retrieved July 15, 2010, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/20/arizona-immigration-law-s_n_544864.html#s86807&title=Students_Withdraw_From

Webber, J. (2010, July). Department of justice vs. Arizona. Retrieved from http://restorefairness.org/2010/07/department-of-justice-vs-arizona/