Constitutional Immigration Reform We Can All Embrace

by Diane Dimond on June 6, 2011

If the Supreme Court Says Its Constitutional...

Saying, “I told you so,” is not becoming. So I won’t say it.

But I will remind folks of all those columns I wrote about the need for states to do something proactive about the problem of illegal immigration since members of the United States Congress have repeatedly fallen down on the job.

Frankly, I stopped writing about it because I figured anyone who was interested in the topic had already formed an opinion and nothing I would write would change any minds. Also, because there was the hate mail I got after I refused to call people who enter this country illegally “undocumented workers.”

Supporting Immigrate Children Helps Us All

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “Illegal is as illegal does,” to my mind – period. But another reminder is in order: I’ve also written in support of the Dream Act which would allow the children of illegals who have known no other country to stay here and go to college or serve in our military. I’m not against LEGAL immigration at all.

Now, no less that the United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the state of Arizona and one of its groundbreaking laws designed to curb the tide of illegals flooding across its border with Mexico. The law at the center of the storm is called The Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) and, in a nutshell, it penalizes employers who “intentionally or knowingly” hire illegal workers. It requires employers to check a potential employee’s status with a free-of-charge federal data base called E-Verify. Repeat offenders who continue to hire illegals will have their business licenses revoked by the state – permanently.

Arizona Leads the Way on State Sponsored Immigration Laws

Remember all those naysayers who yelled about the gall of Arizona? They complained in voices dripping in sarcasm that states aren’t allowed to pass laws that interfere with federal legislation. Arizona lawmakers shouted back – “Yes we can!” They declared that if the federal government wasn’t going to do something to protect their state and stem the tide of illegals flooding across the Mexican border, they would.

Arizona passed LAWA in 2007 and the world didn’t fall apart. And the idea has already spread nationwide. Lawmakers in dozens of other states have also tried to devise their own variations on employer E-Verify legislation. In some instances the effort has fallen flat but legislatures in Mississippi and South Carolina were successful in passing the law. Alabama is on the verge of passing a similar bill too.

It doesn’t take a genius to predict that now that the highest court in our land has given its seal of approval to the idea by declaring it constitutional, we will see a rush of other states following in Arizona’s footsteps.

What’s happening is a real slap upside the head to members of both the executive and congressional branches of government. Washington’s complacency sparked a state’s revolution.

Pres Elect Obama Promised Immigration Reform

One of the first pronouncements from president elect Barack Obama came as he prepared for a meet and greet with the president of Mexico. Obama promised the immigration problem was tops on his list. But, then again, President Bush made a similar pledge and he invoked his Texas ties and close relationship with another Mexican president as reasons why he would prevail. Neither was able to move a meaningful reform bill through Congress.

Just a few weeks ago, during a speech in the border town of El Paso, Texas President Obama renewed his interest in addressing what he called the “ 11 million undocumented immigrants here in the United States.” He appeased both sides in the long lasting debate.

“The overwhelming majority of these folks are just trying to earn a living!” And there was applause.

“But we have to acknowledge (some) have broken the rules. They’ve cut in front of the line.” More applause. Mr. Obama also addressed “unscrupulous businesses” who take advantage of illegal immigrants and he embraced the E-verify system.

May I say, with all due respect – blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. We have heard this lip service from Presidents of both major political parties before.

Flag of New Mexico

I was raised in the great state of New Mexico, I gave birth to my daughter in Arizona and after spending more than a decade living in California I’m here to tell Washington bureaucrats – Move over, your time has come and gone. Folks in states that border Mexico (and Canada and lots of others in between) are tired of reeling under the financial crush illegal immigration brings. They are tired of Washington’s talk, talk, talk. They yearn for action.

Our state lawmakers have picked up your slack, they now know how to write laws that don’t undermine federal laws (for example, Arizona’s LAWA actively includes the federal E-Verify system) and there is a movement afoot you cannot stop.

Other Arizona immigration laws will likely be up before the Supreme Court fairly soon. They may not pass constitutional muster – especially parts of SB-1070 which requires police, who are enforcing other laws, to questions a person’s immigration status if there is a ‘reasonable suspicion’ the person is in the country illegally. It also allows the arrest of such suspects without a warrant. Maybe those actions are best labeled unconstitutional.

But the dam of inaction on immigration has been breached. There is no turning back. Washington, you have made yourself obsolete on this issue. I’m betting other issues you’ve sidestepped will be next.


Diane June 6, 2011 at 8:30 am

ABQ Journal Reader Jim Law writes:

“WOW !!! Great article !!! My new battle cry is “Diane Dimond for POTUS”. Keep up the good work.”

Diane June 6, 2011 at 8:34 am

ABQ Journal Reader Tim Mahoney writes: (in part…)

“… I’m also, by birth and upbringing, a NYC-Irishman, much as I hate to describe myself as a hyphenated American. I’m the son of a LEGAL immigrant from Ireland and have no problems with immigration, just with ILLEGAL immigration.

I have no understanding why more Americans don’t feel righteously indignant at the presumption and gall of so many illegals to enter this country without invitation or approval. I have no patience with the cultural toxins of political correctness that try to brand me as “racist” when I complain about it.

My perspective is influenced by the appreciation that this is not a new issue. It is clear that immigration laws, for whatever reason, have been incompetently enforced or ignored by ten consecutive Presidents, five from each party. That suggests something else going on in this country, doesn’t it? It’s on Obama’s shift now, but the problem preceded his birth. Something to keep in mind.

I have a problem with the E-Verify system. It’s a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiative, which means it doesn’t necessarily represent the will of “WE the People” as approved by the Congress. It is a flawed data base with questionable sources of information. Worse, it tiptoes around an issue that is fundamental to the problem, but ignored in a bipartisan fashion by all politicians…that of a national ID system.

Confirmation of US citizenship is and has always been a Federal issue. A due process issue. States can confirm residency in a state. However, the only authoritative documentation of US citizenship involves due process that can only be provided by the Feds. A US passport or naturalization documents issued by a Federal court. Nothing else is legally sufficient for the purpose and the E-Verify system has its feet in quicksand. It has no real authoritative basis, public support or credibility. Yet the Arizona law seems to require state business to use it? Hmmm.

I’ve been screaming for years now about the REAL ID Act of 2005, also a DHS initiative, which tries to influence the states to perform duties for which only the Federal government is qualified…confirmation of citizenship. I’ve inundated Senator Bingaman’s office, Congressman Heinrich’s office, and the ABQ Journal on the subject many times. Normally they just wave at me one finger at a time or send me some ridiculously canned letter thanking me for my correspondence and saying absolutely nothing that suggests they understand or care about the problem.

Let me make two points on the subject that didn’t make your letter.

First, any attempt to establish and maintain a universal, national level system to confirm identity or citizenship of all Americans would be an abrogation of the civil liberties provided by the Constitution. It would infuriate almost all Americans to propose one and the delta costs of implementing such a system would make Obamacare actually look like a bargain. Which is why no politician formally suggests it and the only way around it is the E-Verify system that has no basis in law and is driven by Executive Branch mandate. Bad idea. Yet, as with many ideas that don’t have public support, there are those within the government that act first and worry about approval later. And, when most Americans are distracted by “Dancing With the Stars”, nobody seems to either notice or care. Very bad idea.

Second, although border security along the southern border most commonly resembles a tsunami, and with unofficial but commonly accepted estimates of 10-20M illegals in the country over the past four decades, a positive aspect of all of that is that census demographics that include those people have managed to provide the US with sustainable population growth figures at a time when Europe, minus the exponential birth explosions of European Muslims, is below Zero Population Growth numbers, meaning, they are not going to be able to sustain themselves in the future. So, strange as it may sound, the millions of uninvited illegals from Mexico is helping us sustain our own nation against the growth of Islam internally, a force that is incompatible with the concepts of civil liberty and freedom that the Constitution represents. Ironic, isn’t it?

When asked shortly after the Constitutional Convention ended in 1787 what kind of government they were trying to leverage on “WE the People”, it was Benjamin Franklin, who had some of his own personal doubts about portions of the Constitution, who replied: “A republic, sir…if you can keep it!”

The fact that immigration law can be ignored for forty plus years, ten Presidents and generations of Congressmen and Senators without “WE the People” standing up on our hind legs and screaming about it suggests that we can no longer keep it. A nation that can’t or won’t secure its own borders has no legitimate claim to call itself a nation.”

Bob Burtis June 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Great article, Hoping we have a change in 2012. Whoever the next Republican President is. I hope they put Jan Brewer and/or Sarah Palin in charge of Immigration/Border control.
I would want Diane Dimond as the White House Press Secretary.
I am sure that it would be controversial, but we would be getting the straight story and adding a lot of common sense to the equation.
Then start drilling and let those big tankers rust in the Persian Gulf.
Repeal Obama-care, Sarbanes Oxley and all the other regulation and let the private business sector create jobs.
That reduces the deficit, cut spending, reduce all the hidden taxes.
This is not that hard.

Diane June 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Gee, Bob –
Not sure they’d take me for that position. I do like to speak my mind and shout out if I think something stupid is occurring!
I worked in Washington covering national politics for a good portion of my career….doubtful that I’d want to return to that quagmire! But thanks for the vote of confidence!~DD

Diane June 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Facebook Friend Kilburn Hall writes:

“”I think the Supreme Court has been out of touch the last 20-years. The problem is- they want to “create” law instead of their historic role of merely “interpreting” law.” “

Diane June 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Facebook Friend Daniel Simone writes:

” It’s about time!!!! I’m not a lawyer, nor a politician, and I’d wish for someone to explain what this litigation between the State of Arizona and the federal gvernment is all about. As far as I know, Arizona did not modify or alter, or create new imigration laws, it just decided to enforce them, a duty that should’ve been performed by the imigration department. The government did so through the mid sixties. Why did it stop policing and preventing illegal immigration?”

Diane June 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Facebook Friend Donnakay Church writes:

“If the federal gov would do its job re imigration & enforce the laws already on the books, individual border states would not have to go to this measure. I live in a border state & I experience first hand the drain on my state’s economy the illegal immigrants cause.”

Mary June 6, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Diane, great article, but I must disagree with you on one point, the so called, Dream Act. Have you read the five or six versions of that foul piece of legislation? It’s always amusing to read references to the ‘kids’ of illegal aliens. All versions of the ‘Dream Act’ included adults up to the age of 36, there was no requirement that they document their compliance with the premises of the legislation, all they had to do, was say they had been in the US, and that was all they were required to do. They didn’t even have to prove they were the age they claimed to be, only say they were. Nor were. any of the versions requiring these illegal aliens to actually go to college or join the military, there were ‘hardship’ exemptions included.

Nor does any supporter of the ‘Dream Act’ ever bother to consider the relatively small pool of available slots at our colleges and universities there are available, and you want to force struggling US citizens’ children to have to compete with illegal aliens for those slots? The ‘Dream Act’ amnesty (that is what it is, it’s broadly written to provide an amnesty for every illegal alien in the US, and those not able to slide in under it, will be grandfathered in as their illegal alien ‘kids’ will be able to include them in through family chain migration.

The ‘Dream Act’ will open financial aid to illegals, and even more burden. If you read the ‘Dream Act’ forum created by one of the Hispanic Supremacist groups last year, you’d have seen these ‘kids’ bragging about how if they didn’t get their ‘dream’ they could attend college for free in their home countries, and that is true. Illegal aliens from Mexico, and even the anchor baby variety, can go to Mexico and attend college or university for free.

Diane June 14, 2011 at 11:19 am

Huffington Post Reader B525 writes:

“China has almost EXACTLY the same land area as the United States, and has 1.3 BILLION people.

The U.S. has only 300 million people and far more fresh/clea­n water and arable/far­mable land….I think we can easily absorb 10-15 million illegal immigrants­.

Especially in the northern and eastern U.S. that is not water stressed.

Russia’s economy is now facing future collapse as their population declines. The government there is offering huge cash incentives to have kids. The Russian government is also trying to INCREASE immigratio­n because they need workers for their rapidly growing economy.

We in the U.S. have been spared these economy destroying population declines by a robust immigratio­n policy, and ironically­……….­by illegal immigratio­n. “

Diane June 14, 2011 at 11:21 am

Huffington Post Reader Norski writes:

“You cannot compare the USA and China in this way. Fully half of the land area in the USA is not capable of growing food. And the half that is capable of growing food is in climates that are further north than is China, where you can often times bring in two or even three crops per year. In the USA it is one crop per year and that is it.
Also, when it comes to food, China is the third largest net food importer in the world, whereas the USA is the third largest net exporter of food. If you compare the food supply and where it is located to food consumptio­n and where it is located the USA effectivel­y supports 250 million people who live in other countries with their food supply. Whereas in China about 220 million people are supported by food grown outside of China.

Except for some farmland in places like North Dakota that is only capable of growing grain which is in oversupply at the moment, and thus in the farm bank program, all farmland worldwide is currently being tasked with feeding the almost 7 billion people living worldwide. So, if we increase the population in the USA, and all the food grown here is already spoken for, who do we let starve elsewhere in the world as we over-popul­ate our countrysid­e? Especially since said population growth creates urban sprawl that eats up some of our best farmland. “

Diane June 14, 2011 at 11:22 am

Huffington Post Reader Texas Rebel writes:

“While I have diasgreed with you before, especially in regards to the DREAM act, I am behind you on this article. I expect there to be many more laws like the one upheld coming from multiple states. Hopefully the federal government will go ahead and push this type of immigratio­n reform, to get the illegals out of the country.”

Diane June 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

Huffington Post Reader 1Andrew writes:

“Diane, I agree with you on all counts EXCEPT supporting the Dream Act.That was a flawed bill that did a lot more than it advertised­,grant a path to citizenshi­p to realitives as well as students with NO way to verify compliance­.It,in fact, was a mass amnesty bill pure & simple.No more amnesty,no­t now,not EVER! That’s what the 11-20 million ILLEGALS in this country are waiting for. SURPRI­SE, It’s NOT going to happen.Arr­est,Detain & Deport.Rep­eat as needed.Tak­e back America before it turns into a third world country like Mexico.”

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