New Arizona law sparks debate

By Megan Kutulis
April 26, 2010

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Arizona is probably having its most eventful week in a long time, if not ever. In the midst of government concern with health care and financial regulation, this state managed to stir the pot of political and social controversy by introducing the immigration law heard ’round the world.

Completely re-shaping our immigration system is like the long division math problem that you had for homework in fourth grade. You do all the other homework first, and even some that isn’t due until next week; anything to avoid that time-consuming and tricky long division.

Unfortunately for Arizona, they are suffering the biggest consequences of the avoidance of this figurative math homework. As one of the handful of states who are closest to the Mexican border, it means that these citizens are bearing the brunt of the immigration that the rest of the country ignores.

Under the new law, which will take effect in 90 days, legal immigrants will be required to carry proof of their citizenship with them at all times.The most controversial aspect of this new legislation is that police and law enforcement officials are given the right to question anyone that they suspect could be an illegal immigrant. This has sparked a debate as to whether or not Arizona’s law is authorizing racial profiling for the sake of eliminating undocumented citizens.

There is nothing wrong with requiring immigrants to carry the proper documentation with them at all times declaring their citizenship. When I turned 16, I got my driver’s license. I know that, for as long as I’m driving a car, any car, I’m going to have to carry that little piece of plastic with the keystone hologram and the unflattering picture of me around, lest I ever get pulled over.

In the same imaginary situation in which I get pulled over, I am required to provide the registration information for the car I am driving. Although proof of citizenship is obviously a much more important document, it doesn’t change the fact that it should be as easy to provide as any other document, including licenses, working papers or medical emergency cards.

The third and final provision set forth by the law, allowing officials to question anyone they believe to be illegal, is where everything gets tricky and emotional. Personally, I don’t think it’s an altogether offensive ruling. I was talking to a friend the other day who posed the question of looking for a murder suspect. If a police report described an Italian man, what would the police be looking for? In Arizona, a state that is teeming with undocumented Mexican immigrants, it seems fairly obvious that, as law enforcement, you’ll be looking for someone who fits that description.

On the other hand, Arizona residents have been dealing with the problems brought on by illegal immigration for years. It would be ignorant to think that personal biases won’t play into any arrests or allegations made by police or other officials. In order to ensure that racism and stereotyping are not outweighing rational judgment, it is important for Arizona government to keep a close eye on these individuals.

Overall, I think this law is a huge step in the right direction not only for Arizona, but for America. If nothing else, this law forces the federal government and the rest of our country to finally wake up and face the immigration problem.

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Megan Kutulis

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