Immigration Law Updates

The most important news, I suppose, is that Arizona has made its new immigration law more palatable with a few changes.

The first concerns the phrase "lawful contact," which is contained in this controversial portion of the bill: "For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency"¦where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person"¦"  Although drafters of the law said the intent of "lawful contact" was to specify situations in which police have stopped someone because he or she was suspected of violating some other law "” like a traffic stop "” critics said it would allow cops to pick anyone out of a crowd and "demand their papers."

So now, in response to those critics, lawmakers have removed "lawful contact" from the bill and replaced it with "lawful stop, detention or arrest." In an explanatory note, lawmakers added that the change "stipulates that a lawful stop, detention or arrest must be in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state."

"It was the intent of the legislature for "˜lawful contact' to mean arrests and stops, but people on the left mischaracterized it," says Kris Kobach, the law professor and former Bush Justice Department official who helped draft the law.  "So that term is now defined."

The second change concerns the word "solely."  In a safeguard against racial profiling, the law contained the phrase, "The attorney general or county attorney shall not investigate complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin."  Critics objected to that, too, arguing again that it would not prevent but instead lead to racial profiling.  So lawmakers have taken out the word "solely."

"There were misstatements by the opponents of the law that this was written to permit some consideration of race in the enforcement of this law," says Kobach, "and that's not the case at all."

It is hard for me to separate in my mind whether the problem I have with what remains is really with this law or with the individuals whom I know to be tasked with its enforcement.  Sheriff Joe Arpaio has a history of pulling over every Mexican he runs into with a broken tail light on his crime sweeps, so in actual practice, the requirement of there being some other crime involved doesn't do much to make me fear profiling any less.  But its hard for me to say that checking immigration status of people arrested or detained is unreasonable, so it may be I am just uncomfortable with the overzealous enforcements and Sheriff Joe's patented crime sweeps.  (I am still opposed to the socialist definition of property rights that conservatives have adopted in the law).

I thought Megan McArdle had an interesting point:

If the immigration problems in Arizona are really so serious that they merit deep intrusions upon the liberty of citizens who happen to resemble illegal immigrants, than they are serious enough to intrude on the liberty of everyone.  Don't make the cops check the status of anyone who they "reasonably suspect" is illegal; make them check the status of everyone, no matter how blond-haired, blue-eyes, and fluent in standard American english they may be.  If you forget your license at home, the police detain you, just like they detain anyone of mexican descent, while someone fetches it.  If you can't produce a birth certificate, passport, or similar, then you wait in the pokey until they can verify your legal status.  No police discretion.  No profiling.

We can illustrate McArdle's point with an example, where our sheriff's descended on a local business and zip-tied and detained anyone who looked Hispanic until they could produce proof of immigration status.  No Anglos at this location were treated the same way:

Deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office raided a Mesa landscaping company early Wednesday morning, arresting nearly three dozen people suspected of being in the country illegally.

The raid on offices of Artistic Land Management, on Main Street just west of Dobson Road, happened about 4:30 a.m., according to one worker who was handcuffed and detained before being released when he produced documentation that he was in the country legally"¦.

Juarez estimated about 35 workers were handcuffed with plastic zip-ties while deputies checked for documents. Those who could provide proof they were in the country legally were released, while others were put on buses and taken away.

This is something the bill supporters just don't want to deal with -- the ugly sight of all the brown skinned workers at a location separated out from their peers and zip-tied until they can produce the proper government papers.

Daniel Griswold of Cato offered what I thought was an excellent framework for thinking about immigration and immigration reform:

Requiring successful enforcement of the current immigration laws before they can be changed is a non sequitur. It's like saying, in 1932, that we can't repeal the nationwide prohibition on alcohol consumption until we've drastically reduced the number of moonshine stills and bootleggers. But Prohibition itself created the conditions for the rise of those underground enterprises, and the repeal of Prohibition was necessary before the government could "get control" of its unintended consequences.

Illegal immigration is the Prohibition debate of our day. By essentially barring the legal entry of low-skilled immigrant workers, our own government has created the conditions for an underground labor market, complete with smuggling and day-labor operations. As long as the government maintains this prohibition, illegal immigration will be widespread, and the cost of reducing it, in tax dollars and compromised civil liberties, will be enormous.

It turns out that after excoriating the Arizona law as being too intrusive, Democrats have responded with ... something even more intrusive.

Sometimes I just love the Democrats.  After fomenting a near meltdown over the Arizona immigration law, with charges of nazism and cries of "show me you papers!" flying hither and yon, the Democrats introduce an immigration framework with what?

Improved papers, of course.

Yes, the Dems screwed the pooch and included a national ID card in their proposed legislation.  And a biometric one at that.   As someone characterized it, it's a "super Social Security card".  Remember when you were assured that your SS card/number was not for identification purposes and never would be.  Well Bunky, that was as true as most of the promises politicians make.

Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure.

As a final note, for years I have asked strong exclusionist conservatives how they square their opposition to immigration with their desire for freedom of contract and exchange.  After all, if commerce is free, do I not have the right to hire anyone I want for a job, no matter where that person was born.  Why do Conservatives want to require that all workers have government licenses before they can be hired?  It turns out that the ACLU makes the same point in response to the above proposal (from the link above, emphasis added):

"Creating a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it will usher government into the very center of our lives. Every worker in America will need a government permission slip in order to work. And all of this will come with a new federal bureaucracy "” one that combines the worst elements of the DMV and the TSA," said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel.

Note to Conservatives-- when the ACLU, founded by Marxists and which to this day resists recognizing property rights, gets out ahead of you on the rights to free exchange and commerce, you are in trouble.

Update:  More from Brad Warbiany and Matt Welch


  1. Scott:

    There is no "socialist definition of property rights" in the law. The trespassing violation was removed by the house prior to passage. After the latest modifications it still reads:

    A. In addition to any violation of federal law, a person is guilty of willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document if the person is in violation of 8 United States Code section 1304(e) or 1306(a).

    The law as amended may be found at:

  2. Martel Firing:

    There is a FREE MARKET solution to the illegal immigration problem which I've been promoting at my blog . I claim it as truly an original idea and believe it could satisfy both sides of the debate. I'd like your opinion.

  3. Che is dead:

    This is something the bill supporters just don’t want to deal with — the ugly sight of all the brown skinned workers at a location separated out from their peers and zip-tied until they can produce the proper government papers.

    I have absolutely no problem with it. And if my workplace is "raided", I will happily submit to interrogation as to my legal status. I think that what opponents of this bill don't want to deal with is reality. The reality is that the vast majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona come form Mexico and Latin America. To paraphrase Ann Coulter, that's not racial profiling, it's a description of the suspect.

    How pathetic that you feel it necessary to stoop to race-baiting. I know that you do it because your arguments are weak. You know that supporting illegal immigration undermines the rule of law. You know that illegals put an unjust burden on American taxpayers through welfare and increased law enforcement and legal costs. You know that they commit crimes, creating victims of law abiding Americans who would not otherwise have had to endure that suffering. And I think you realize that the Mexican government cynically encourages it's impoverished citizens to go north, in an effort to shift the costs of caring for them onto the "gringos", while hoping that, once employed, they will send money back to Mexico. And since you have no credible counter-argument, you switch to race-baiting.

    I don't fear the "brown hordes", and I don't disparage my Hispanic fellow countrymen. After all, illegal immigration impacts them as well. If this was all just about controlling the "brown hordes", then why does Mexico have such draconian immigration laws? And if you're so passionate about open borders, why not start your crusade there? After all, our immigration laws are far more liberal, and you could have a much greater impact with regard to human liberty by focusing your efforts where the need is the greatest. Right? Or, was the accusation of racism and your declaration for the "brown skinned workers" just moral conceit?

  4. Che is dead:

    @ Megan McArdle

    Arizona's new law does not impose "deep intrusions upon the liberty of citizens". And the only thing "interesting" about her argument is how someone who purports to be shocked and offended by the authoritarian methods of Sheriff Arpaio, and pens screed after screed attacking his extra-judicial methods, would think that the legal principle of "reasonable suspicion" should be abandoned in order to inflict some lesson on his political opponents. I guess it's OK to support racial profiling as long as it's meant to teach "whitey" a lesson.

  5. Che is dead:

    @ ACLU

    Every worker already needs a "government permission slip" in order to work, try getting a job without a Social Security number. And an organization that is opposed to right-to-work laws and supports the concept that workers must have a "union permission slip" in order to work is hardly in a position to lecture on placing conditions on employment.

  6. Bill:

    Perhaps we should just make Mexico the 51st state. Would that satisfy the national suicide crowd?

  7. markm:

    Martel: Your idea sounds great to me. If only there was a way to get Congress to select simple, effective solutions rather than the ones best suited to building their power bases...

  8. IgotBupkis:

    > As a final note, for years I have asked strong exclusionist conservatives how they square their opposition to illegal immigration

    You elided a very significant word, Warren, which I've added for you. The omission in not only critical but prejudicial of your mindset. I consider myself largely libertarian, but am more than capable of realizing that there are limits to even "limited government". Borders have a reason for existing. Even those of the USA. There is a process for immigrating, and as a result of taking a lax attitude towards it, we now have a problem with a large number of people in the nation whose presence runs counter to good order and the future of the Republic. When they were in the tenths of a percent, they did not matter that much, but the percentage points are drifting up, and that is good, adequate reason for concern.

    I would challenge you to show the percentage of the population who are less than a generation in-country for the last 220 years. I suspect it would be.... interesting. I'd also like to see some regional charts that show those same numbers near obvious entry points over time.

    Further -- there is not a nation in the world which has not assumed border control as one of its historical perquisites. That the USA has a history, until around the 1920s, of not enforcing it does not abrogate nor preclude its right, since then, to exercise that intention. There are several distinctions notable in the time since the 1700s and 1800s in the nature and makeup of both the nation and the world. As long as the USA was expanding, it could afford to take in all comers. As long as the USA was not the richest nation in the world, it did not attract as many two-bit charlatans and hustlers as it does nowadays (As though we don't have enough sharps of our own to worry about?). Things have changed. We've taken these lax borders for granted, and it has the south in some dangerous straights -- yes, despite your apparent desire to ignore it -- there is a synchronicity of multiculti crap, the denigration of American exceptionalism, and the steady influx of Mexicans with no interest in assimilating (see "La Raza", et al) but in misusing legal structures to steal -- this synchronicity is a danger to the USA's "Melting Pot".

    The Melting Pot is breaking into, as someone put it, a "Chunky Stew". Not Good.

    > I have absolutely no problem with it. And if my workplace is “raided”, I will happily submit to interrogation as to my legal status. I think that what opponents of this bill don’t want to deal with is reality. The reality is that the vast majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona come form Mexico and Latin America. To paraphrase Ann Coulter, that’s not racial profiling, it’s a description of the suspect.

    Indeed. Moved, seconded.

    This is little different from the absurd demand for giving pat-downs to obvious great-grandmothers prior to boarding planes. When the "Great-Grandmothers of the Republic" start blowing up planes, then one can say that's appropriate. Until then, "discrimination" is flat out common sense, and a call for the group in question to start regulating ITSELF like it should have been doing all along. When someone bombs an abortion clinic, Christians are usually the first to offer help in finding the culprit. Why should any other group be excluded from such self-policing?

    I don't give a rat's ass what your profession is -- cop, lawyer, accountant -- or your religion -- Hindu, Jew, Seventh Day Adventist -- or your political philosophy -- Marxist, Democrat, or Anarcho-conservative -- or the national origin of your ancestors -- Japanese, Canadian, or Armenian... First and foremost, I expect you to damned well be an American. You owe your first allegiance to THIS NATION and its ideals of freedom, liberty, and equality of opportunity. Of property rights and limited government.

    If you can't support that, there's plenty of other places based on those other ideas. Go find one of them that matches your own, and live there, and stop trying to screw up the USA.

    There was this guy I worked with who emigrated here from Germany. The stupid son of a bitch was whining about American gun laws.

    "WTF ARE YOU **here** FOR, if it's so damned great THERE, BITCH?"

    NOTE: That's not intended to be directed at YOU in any way, shape, or form, Warren -- it's just where this thing headed -- I think we have far too many people looking at other places for direction -- those places which were clearly screwed up sufficiently that their ANCESTORS left and came HERE -- so why the hell are we looking at them as though they know any better than us how to run things?

    America is a melting pot -- not just of people but ideas, concepts, cultures, creeds, and values -- we succeed better than anyone else has BECAUSE of that -- because we take those ideas from other places when they come here from those people, and, if they fit and work, we adopt them as our own. But all that ties into an inherent framework that can't be futzed with too much, because it keeps any specific group from overpowering any other group's ideas and forcing them on everyone else. And when Spanish becomes a widespread predominant language in place of English, that's a form of that. It says that the Hispanic influence is becoming too strong, and that the influx is, instead of assimilating, it's taking over.

  9. me:

    As a (legal) immigrant, I do look upon the proposed changes with great trepidation. I went through the steps necessary to update a green card recently. Keep in mind, this is the card asserting my legal right to live and work in the US permanently. That not withstanding, it needs to be renewed every 10 years, at (currently) $300 expense (the fee keeps going up by about $50 every year on average). The process of replacing this card requires a lengthy application process, full background checks, full biometrics, and roundabout 6-8 months of time.

    I shudder at the idea of having to have the card on my in person at all times - replacing it would be quite a bit more of a hassle than replacing the contents of your average stolen wallet.

  10. Linda Gottfredson's Apprentice:

    Well, Me, my renewal comes up in around two years time as well. How long before expiry did you restart the process?

    Coyote, I don't know what your problem with the law is. As a legal immigrant I think it is time someone did something about the large number if illegals coming in from Mexico, and just as it is more fruitful to target Arab looking individuals as potential terrorists, it is more fruitful to target Mexican looking people as illegal immigrants.

  11. LeBolide:

    Illegal immigration is the Prohibition debate of our day. By essentially barring the legal entry of low-skilled immigrant workers, our own government has created the conditions for an underground labor market,

    It wasn't the immigration law that barred the entry of low-skilled (and low-paid) workers into the labor market, it was the minimum wage and minimum age laws. If we at least repealed the minimum wage laws, Americans could once again legally work the jobs currently filled by illegal aliens.

    I always wonder how people can square the supposed need for minimum wage laws with their desire for illegal aliens who will work for less than minimum wage.

  12. Stan:

    I don't know if you read your comments, but that "socialist definition of property" was in the scrapped version of the bill. It is not in the current version. It seems here there is a suggested theme, that conservatives oppose immigration based on sorts of prejudice. I think you could do more justice to your conservative readers by more clearly understanding their motives, and then articulating appropriate responses to them.

    I say this as a former conservative who saw the light and is now a libertarian.

  13. ParatrooperJJ:

    Me - You are already in violation of federal law if you don't have yourgreen card on your person at alltimes.

  14. TakeFive:

    "...make them check the status of everyone, no matter how blond-haired, blue-eyes, and fluent in standard American english they may be."


    As soon as the Home Depot parking lot, public schools, and county welfare offices are overwhelmed with an unexplainable surge in these white-skinned devils, feel free to stop them in the streets.

    What else you got Warren?

  15. IgotBupkis:


    Your presumption is that Americans WANT to work these low-skilled jobs.

    I recall back in the early 1990s hearing that Boca Raton, FL (a very affluent, upscale part of FL) was finding NO TAKERS for working in restaurants like McDonalds despite the fact that they were offering as much as $10 an hour (about 2x minimum wage) for entry-level people. They wound up having to literally bus them in from Ft. Lauderdale, 30-40 miles away.

    I think there IS a call for low-skilled workers getting paid less. Illegals are one of the solutions as-is, that has to be resolved by other means than opening the borders.

  16. IgotBupkis:

    I'm going to post this across a number of these immigration threads so that many will see it. I dunno how many people go back and look at older ones. Sorry if this is perceived as spam, but I think it's a good idea to understand how this wave of immigration compares to prior ones.

    It's a 2009 NYT interactive chart of census data showing immigration trends since 1880-2000 for any available data (some years data are absent, cf. Cuba-1930). You can narrow it down to specific nationalities and scan by decade for the period covered. It acks a "group" notion by color coding, etc., but unfortunately lacks any way to get collective info about that group -- you either have nations or "all".

    Immigration Chart

    In particular, compare the Italian or Russian immigrations of the past (I'm not sure Irish is a fair comparison, since many of the Irish entered before 1880) with that of "Mexico" starting in the 1960s. Notice how they built up to a far lower point, compared to population, than Mexico has, and Mexico shows NO sign of waning after 50 years, unlike those, which fall off noticeably after around 40-odd years. Trust me, it shows it differently when you select a specific national origin.

    Warren's comparison of this wave to previous ones is vastly under-appreciative of the magnitude of this influx as a proportion to the population as a whole. People sense this, and here's DATA to show their concern is hardly inappropriate.

    H/T: No Oil For Pacifists

    He also apparently found one that breaks it down by profession. I haven't looked at that one just yet.

  17. Rick C:

    "I have asked strong exclusionist conservatives how they square their opposition to immigration"

    Keep flogging that strawman, Warren.

  18. John Moore:

    "As a final note, for years I have asked strong exclusionist conservatives how they square their opposition to immigration with their desire for freedom of contract and exchange. "

    As others have pointed out, conservatives are against ILLEGAL immigration, and we are hardly exclusionist. I am one such conservative, and my workplace is full of LEGAL immigrants and green-card or visa holders - and we are richer for it.

    As long as you fail to make the distinction between illegal and legal immigration, you are not engaging in rational argument - you are simply ranting.

    As for your freedom of contract, etc... yes, there are good reasons to limit that freedom. You don't have freedom to commit a crime in your contracts, which is what happens when you contract with an illegal alien. Again, the word illegal.

    As many of us have said before... fix the borders, and let us have LEGAL aliens. Until then, we have every right to raise hell about the invasion of our state, and if it disproportionately discomfits legal hispanic citizens... tough! The government never can act without causing some sort of unequal treatment. The police have a rational basis for presuming that they are much more likely to find illegal immigrants among hispanic gardeners than white carpenters, and preventing them from using that basis is the same illogic, as another poster pointed out, as frisking grandma's at the airport.

  19. valeria:

    i think they all us mexican should stant for wat we belive we are human we want to just have the american dream kids n family