A higher standard
The first thing that caught my eye in Guy Farmer’s column (July 1 Nevada Appeal) entitled “Immigration policy: ‘Show me your papers'” was the statement that “Illegal immigration advocates” went into cardiac arrest after the Supreme Court decision in the Arizona case. I know of no one who advocates illegal immigration. Many people, including me, strongly advocate the adoption of a rational, effective, enforceable, humanitarian immigration policy that is in the U.S. national interest. That is not advocating illegal immigration.
Second, Mr. Farmer states that the advocates’ “hysterical overreaction” to the decision shows how polarizing the immigration issue is this year. I wonder if Mr. Farmer thinks his extreme rhetoric and inaccurate statements are not polarizing.
Third, Mr. Farmer questions President Obama’s enforcement of immigration laws. According to government data, President Bush deported an average of 275,126 aliens per year; Mr. Obama deported an average of 391,204 in 2009 and 2010. The number of border patrol agents has been increased to 18,000 from 9,100 in 2008. Numerous technology systems have been introduced. In 2010, ICE deported 195,000 convicted criminals, compared to 81,000 in 2008. Importantly, illegal entry attempts have decreased 36% in the last 2 years.
Fourth, Mr. Farmer says that the Court “raised difficult questions for Arizona policemen” as to how long they must wait for federal officers to respond to inquiries about a suspect’s immigration status and how they avoid being sued for racial profiling. The Court did no such thing. It is the Arizona law that requires its law enforcement officers to demand that suspected persons show proper documentation. The Court only said that could raise constitutional issues if a suspect is held too long.
How can Arizona’s policemen avoid being sued for racial profiling? Simple. Do not engage in racial profiling.
Mr. Farmer then quoted Arizona Sheriff Dupnik that enforcement officers will be sued if they ask a suspect for immigration papers or if they don’t ask. Interestingly, Sheriff Dupnik opposed the Arizona law, which creates this “dilemma.” Neither the Court’s decision nor Mr. Obama’s enforcement of immigration laws is responsible.
Finally, Mr. Farmer accuses Mr. Obama of deciding to “ingratiate himself with…”and of “pandering to” Hispanics when he deferred deportation of certain young people who were brought here illegally by their parents. Could Mr. Farmer and his compatriots not credit Mr. Obama with at least some degree of compassion and sincerity, if not patriotism, in dealing with one aspect of our country’s immigration policy? Factually, the deferment does not grant amnesty and is for a period of two years, renewable until a person is 30 years of age. The policy is not an executive order or sweeping abrogation of law but appears to be within the Court’s statement that “A principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials.”
In the Arizona case, Justice Kennedy wrote of basing laws on “a political will informed by searching, thoughtful, rational civic discourse.” Can we not all rise to that standard?