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Illegal immigration has been a controversial issue of debate in the United States for many years but it has been recently brought to light through the passage of a controversial Senate Bill in Arizona. The criminal justice system is greatly affected by illegal immigration because it causes substantial harm to American citizens as well as legal and illegal immigrants. However, the criminal justice system is just one layer of government effected by illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is a growing problem for the criminal justice system and the government because it is an illegal act to immigrate into the United States illegally therefore it overburdens the criminal justice system and government agencies. The more people who immigrate illegally into the United States, the more money, time and effort will have to be directed to combat this issue. This paper will examine the history behind illegal immigration as well as the advantages and disadvantages that accompany this growing problem. I will also be discussing the state laws that are being enacted with the hopes of combating and deterring illegal immigration.
History of Illegal Immigration
Human immigration has been and still is widely influenced by the world economy (Vayrynen, 2003). Mass immigrations were common in pre-modern world politics in which they shaped the fates of empires and entire civilizations. Only in the rather late historical phase, the rise of territorial and national states started to impose constraints on immigration. Implementation of restrictions on illegal immigration dates to the late nineteenth century (Orrenius, 2001). In 1882, President Chester A. Arthur banned almost all Chinese immigration into the United States. Shortly after, President Arthur barred paupers, criminals and the mentally ill from entering. This affected only a small percentage of immigrants but there were now distinctions between legal and illegal immigration. Before this time, immigration was not widely regulated.
Ellis Island served at the New York portal for immigrants and it opened in 1892 and became the nation's premier federal immigration station (Maddern, 2008). Immigrants at Ellis Island were required to substantiate their identities, answer questions, find a friend or relative who could vouch for them, and they were examined for any physical ailments. Ellis Island ended operation in 1954 and had processed over twelve million legal immigrants. From 1881 to 1920, a large wave of immigration ensued and nearly twenty-three and a half million immigrants poured into the United States from all over the world (Lee, Ottati & Hussain, 2001). In response, Congress passed a Quota Law in 1921 that reduced immigration to 357,000 a year and limited the number of immigrants from particular countries. In 1924, immigration quotas were further reduced to 160,000 a year. In 1929, it was cut again to a mere 157,000 and quotas were again reset based on national origins in the 1920 U.S. Census. These laws were implemented with the hopes that they would predict and populate the existing ethnic composition of the country and help assimilate the fifteen million southern and eastern Europeans who had entered over the previous forty years. However, the door was left open for Mexicans, who were desired by employers for cheap labor, and northern Europeans. The restrictions on legal immigration led to the abundance of illegal immigration.
During the 1920s, illegal immigration was the subject of heated Congressional debates (Orrenius, 2001). Edward H. Dowell, vice-president of the California Federation of Labor, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Immigration in February of 1928. He discussed the burden of the unrestricted flow of Mexicans on the state's taxpayers, prisons, hospitals and American workers' wages. He estimated that while 67,000 Mexicans entered the U.S. legally the prior year, double or maybe even triple that number entered illegally. Vayrynen (2003) discusses that in February of 1929, the U.S. House Immigration Committee heard testimony from government officials regarding problems at the border with both Canada and Mexico. Vayrynen (2003) stated that they also discussed measures that should be taken to eliminate the visa mill's where it was discovered as obtaining "the most lax conditions imaginable in connection with inspection of persons wishing to enter the United States" (p. 642). Visas were required for legal residency at this time and visa mill's were being used to allow immigrants into the country either by giving them falsified documentation or not abiding by the standards upon entrance.
During the years of the Great Depression, immigration dropped sharply (Center for Immigration Studies, 2010). After the stock market crashed in 1929, the U.S. tightened visa rules which reduced Mexican immigration (Vayrynen, 2003). Local, state and federal government officials debated what to do with those already here. Some Mexicans faced repatriation, which is the process of returning a person back to their place of origin, other Mexicans left either voluntarily or under pressure from local officials; others were deported. Eventually between approximately 500,000 to 1,000,000 Mexicans left the United States between 1929 and 1939. This was due to deportation, as well as other factors such as the threat of deportation and unemployment. This happened under President Herbert Hoover's administration because Hoover believed that illegal immigrants were taking jobs from Americans (Ngai, 2003). Therefore, he endorsed a vigorous effort to reduce legal and illegal entries and expel "undesirable aliens." Deportations, repatriations, and legal immigration of Mexicans and others decreased during President Franklin Roosevelt's administration, during the Great Depression, but did not end entirely.
According to Ngai (2003), today's high level of illegal immigration originated during the war filled years of the early 1940s. Because of labor shortages, the federal government set up a program to import Mexican laborers to work temporarily in agriculture (Cornelius, 2001). This was called the Bracero Program. The goal was to import foreign workers during agricultural harvest and then encourage them to go home when the harvest was over. Over the next two decades approximately 4.8 million Mexican workers came into the country and provided cheap labor to many U.S. employers. In order to ensure Americans would not lose out on job opportunities, Braceros were supposed to be hired only if American workers could not be found. However, employers preferred the foreign workers who were willing to work for lesser wages. The program ended in 1964 due to complaints from unions and Mexican-Americans that these foreigners were taking jobs away from them. Many of the former Braceros re-entered and worked in the U.S. illegally. Ngai (2003) states that The Los Angeles Times reported in May 1950 that 21,000 Mexican nationals had "flooded across Mexican border into the United States during April and complained about the overworked, understaffed border patrolmen and the endless wave of line jumpers, unprecedented in the nation's history" (p. 8).
During President Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency, it was estimated that illegal Mexican border crossings had grown to about 1 million (Orrenius, 2001). The massive illegal workforce had a devastating impact on the wages of American workers. In 1954, Eisenhower appointed General Joseph Swing to head the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Shortly thereafter, "Operation Wetback" was launched. With only 1,075 Border Patrol agents, tens of thousands of illegal aliens were caught and sent back deep into Mexico. Hundreds of thousands more returned to their homeland voluntarily. Illegal immigration had dropped 95% by the end of the 1950s (Broeders & Engbersen, 2007). But it did not last long, after the 1965 Immigration Act passed, legal immigration increased but illegal immigration rose right along with it. The Center for Immigration Studies noted (2010), this increased immigration in part because Congress "shifted the legal preference system to family relations and away from employment needs and immigrant ability" (Immigration and the Size of the U.S. Economy section, para. 13). Senator Edward Kennedy said at the time: "The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society" (Immigration and the Size of the U.S. Economy section, para. 13). However, this bill spurred fueled illegal immigration, along with a sense of entitlement amongst illegal immigrants. In subsequent decades, Mexico has become the primary source country of both legal and illegal immigration (Lee et al., 2001).
In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was passed which amnestied about 3 million illegal aliens (Vayrynen, 2003). This law was supposed to be a compromise which attempted to limit illegal immigration through border security and increased immigration enforcement against employers along with amnesty for the millions of illegal workers in the United States. According to the IRCA, illegal immigrants who had lived in the United States for five years and met other conditions received temporary legal status, which could be later upgraded to citizenship. President Ronald Reagan approved this citizenship route due to what was believed to be a relatively small illegal immigrant population (Hanson, Robertson & Splimiberso, 2001). Unfortunately, there were some unexpected consequences which included document fraud as well as lack of preparation due to the number of illegal immigrants seeking amnesty had far exceeded expectations. Most importantly, there was no way to enforce the law against employers. The 1986 IRCA amnesty failed and actually led to millions of more people entering the United States illegally (Vayrynen, 2003).
During the 1990s, President Bill Clinton made efforts to combat illegal immigration but the problem still lingered (Vayrynen, 2003). Orennius (2001) stated that on January 23, 1996, President Bill Clinton stated in his State of Union Address that "We should honor every legal immigrant here, working hard to become a new citizen. But we are also a nation of laws" (p. 6). In 1996, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 was passed (Vayrynen, 2003). Still, leaders from Central American and Caribbean nations relied heavily on untaxed money sent back to their countries from the United States, and worried that President Clinton would support mass deportations. President Clinton assured these leaders that there would be no mass deportations which resulted in approximately 7 million illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. when he left office.
During President George W. Bush's administration, there was an increase in illegal immigration and a drop in immigration enforcement (Vayrnen, 2003). By 2005, there were an estimated 10 to 20 million illegal immigrants living in the United States despite the fact that the Bush administration's enforcement crackdown had been underway. Despite the failure of past amnesties and the increase in illegal immigration, Bush repeatedly pushed amnesty for illegal immigrants and used the justification that illegal immigrants are doing the jobs that Americans refuse to do.
Today, over 1 million immigrants enter the United States legally per year, while the illegal immigration population grows by approximately 500,000 per year (Su, 2010). Most people who enter the United States illegally come from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Close to half of all illegal immigrants now residing in the United States did not enter illegally but rather overstayed their visas due to lack of monitoring by the federal government. It is estimated that about 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants currently reside in the United States. California has more illegal immigrants than any other state, at about 2.4 million. Others states with high illegal immigrant populations include Texas, Florida and New York.
Positions on Illegal Immigration
There are heated debates regarding the disadvantages and advantages of illegal immigration in the United States. Those who support illegal immigration believe that illegal immigrants create advantages for the United States through taxes, spending and the labor force (Motomura, 2007). The Social Security Administration believes that about half of illegal immigrants pay Social Security Taxes. A 2005 New York Times piece reported that over 9 million W-2 wage forms with incorrect or false Social Security Numbers were turned into the government in 2002. These represented approximately $56 billion dollars in earnings, $6 billion in Social Security taxes and $1.5 billion for Medicare. The exact number for illegal immigrant tax contribution is hard to concretely establish but many believe that this is clear evidence that they are paying taxes into the system.
Illegal immigrants offer a significant consumer power that many fail to see (Motomura, 2007). Motomura (2007) stated that it is estimated that the "total goods and services they consumeâ€¦plus all they produce for their employers, is close to about $800 billion" (p 862). Some believe that much of the income from illegal immigrants does not benefit the United States because it is sent back to their families in Mexico (Kullgren, 2003). The World Bank estimates that approximately $42 billion left the United States in 2006 as remittances to the families of illegal immigrants but that is only about 10 percent of illegal immigrants' wages. That leaves about $400-450 billion left over that is being spent in the United States.
Although the large supply of illegal immigrants in the United States has likely displaced low-skilled native workers, the relative youth and higher birth rate of immigrants has been the key to the growth in the labor force (Motomura, 2007). Kullgren (2003) stated that "Without the immigrants, we would have a decline in labor force of 3 to 4 percent. We couldn't have grown nearly as much as we did in the '90s" (p 1630). Economists argue that a younger population requires more jobs, hard to provide in times of economic crisis. But a larger population does mean larger markets for products and housing which is a potential engine for growth (Motomura, 2007).
Many Americans who support illegal immigration would like the government to grant amnesty to all illegal immigrants (Cornelius, 2001). Amnesty would restore those who have been guilty of an offense. Those who oppose amnesty believe that it is not acceptable and will just lead to more amnesty. In past history, when amnesty was granted, most illegal immigrants would be privilege to even more government programs due to their legal working status. Cornelius (2001) stated that it is believed that "if illegal immigrants were given amnesty and began to pay taxes and use services like households headed by legal immigrants with the same educational levels, the estimated annual net fiscal deficit would increase from $2,700 per household to nearly $7,700" (p. 663). Some Americans hold that amnesty for illegal immigrants will import poverty and not allow Americans to continue to uphold present standards of living (Center for Immigration Studies, 2010).
Those concerned about the negative impacts of illegal immigration believe that illegal immigration is bad for the American economy because it is importing poverty and taking jobs away from the poor and the middle-class Americans (Hanson et al., 2001). Illegal immigration can lead to great poverty levels within the United States. Immigrants occupy low income employment therefore wages are low and they are more affected by downturns in the economy. The poverty level leads illegal immigrants to criminal acts in order to support their family. According to the Center for Immigration Studies (2010), although studies suggest the illegal immigrants generate an overall increase in wage levels and they do not negatively affect crime levels, they negatively impact wages in the low skill occupations that they occupy.
It was noted in the Majority Staff Report of the House Committee on Homeland Security that (2006) "Not all illegal aliens are crossing into the United States to find work. Law enforcement officials indicate that there are individuals coming across the border who are forced to leave their home countries because of criminal activities. These dangerous criminals are fleeing the law in other countries and seeking refuge in the United States" (para 23). One of the clearest indicators that the United States has lost control of its southwest border is the ease with which thousands of tons of drugs and millions of illegal immigrants are crossing the border annually (McKanders, 2007). Illegal immigration has not only opened the door to cheap labor but has provided a perfect cover for various forms of criminal activity, such as drug trafficking, prostitution and identity theft.
Federal investigators believe that as much as 2.2 million kilograms of cocaine and 11.6 kilograms of marijuana were smuggled into the United States via the Mexican border in 2005 (A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border). Drug cartels battle over the billion dollar drug trade between Mexico and the United States. These cartels have ties to gangs within the United States and they serve as the drug distributors in the United States. A 2006 study by the House Committee on Homeland Security warns that the Mexican cartels have essentially taken control of the border from both the U.S. and Mexican governments. The majority of illegal immigrants are not directly involved in the drug trade but the DEA has determined that Mexican traffickers conceal their activities within immigrant communities. It is estimated that 80 to 85 percent of the drug trade is conducted by Hispanics and they accounted for 46 percent of drug-trafficking arrests.
Hispanics are thought to compromise 49 percent of total gang memberships in the United States (LoBreglio, 2004). A majority of these gang members are illegal immigrants. The House Committee on Homeland Security (2006) estimates that 66 percent of Hispanic/Latino gang members are illegal immigrants. In the case of the MS-13, federal authorities estimate that approximately 90 percent of these gang members are foreign born illegal immigrants and they depend upon the Mexican border smuggling to support their criminal activities. Â
In addition to the drug trade, the Mexican cartels are becoming increasingly involved in human trafficking and human smuggling (Operation Predator). Mexico is the number one source for young female sex slaves in North America. Each year thousands of women and children are smuggled across the border and sent to brothels across the United States. A typical illegal immigrant pays between $1,200 and $2,500 to be taken across the border. Illegal aliens will typically pay back these fees by selling drugs once they get to America. The drug cartels are also smuggling non-Mexican aliens into the United States and will often charge between $45,000 and $60,000 per person to do so.
Once illegal immigrants get across the border, many have jobs, as well as fraudulent documents, waiting for them (A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border). In 2001, Tyson Foods Inc. was indicted for conspiring to smuggle illegal immigrants into the United States to work at the company's chicken processing plants. Federal agents caught on Tyson plant manager requesting as many as 500 illegal workers, complete with photo ID's and Social Security cards. Mexican criminal groups provide illegal immigrants will high quality counterfeit documents, such as Social Security cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, driver's licenses, proof of vehicle insurance cards, even counterfeit utility bills. Many illegal immigrants are also resorting to identity theft. During a recent raid at Smithfield Foods in North Carolina, investigators found that 86 percent of workers arrested for immigration violations had also stolen identities from American citizens.
In addition to drug trafficking and identity theft, illegal immigrants also have higher rates of drunk driving and sexual deviancy (Copeland, 2007). Alcohol related motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Hispanics in North Carolina in particular. This is more than 20 percent compared to only 2.2 percent for Whites and 2.4 for African Americans. Copeland (2007) states that in a report by the UNH Highway Safety Research Center concluded that Hispanic drivers involved in crashes are two-and-a-half times more likely to be intoxicated than whites; and three times more likely than blacks. Copeland (2007) also highlighted a study conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement concluded that there are approximately 240,000 illegal immigrant sex offenders in the United States. They also run a special program called Operation Predator which targets foreign nationals who commit sex crimes against children. To date, more than 10,000 individuals have been arrested through this program, resulting in more than 5,500 deportations.
Illegal immigrants have a massive effect on the job market in the United States. Some employers believe that legal workers are not willing to do many of the jobs given to illegal immigrants therefore employers hire illegal immigrants who are willing to perform the job at a cheaper wage (Center for Immigration Studies, 2010). This affects the American economy because it is estimated that illegal immigrants have sent over 200 billion U.S. dollars back home since 1996. Therefore, more and more middle-class workers are being forced into poverty, accepting lower wages and fewer benefits. One suggestion to combat this issue is to instill harsher penalties to companies that employ illegal immigrants in order to deny social services to illegal immigrants (McKanders, 2007). It would be too time consuming and expensive for the government to track down all illegal immigrants. In order to combat this issue the government should take away the supply of employment that so many illegal immigrants come into the United States for. Therefore, it would be difficult for illegal immigrants to find work in the United States and they would in turn enter the country legally for employment.
Berk, Schur, Chevez & Frankel (2000) discusses that illegal immigrants are also privy to free medical treatment, food stamps, free schooling and WIC. It has also been suggested that illegal immigrants have increased educational costs. Immigrants and their children account for a disproportionate amount of public education costs than do U.S. citizens due to the greater birth rate for immigrants and the need for more intensive instruction. The children of illegal immigrants have significantly lower educational attainment than citizens. Illegal immigrants use more medical services in comparison to U.S. citizens, because they tend not to have health insurance and need to resort to public assistance more often. These programs are funded from taxpayer dollars. When illegal immigrants are arrested, it is the taxpayers who pay for their court services and imprisonment.
Vayrnen (2003) states that illegal immigrants obtain free medical treatment through an interpretation of the 14th amendment that states that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States" (p. 673). Illegal immigrants come into the United States and give birth to their children on American soil and "anchor" themselves and their children in the United States therefore leaving taxpayers to provide funding for so called "anchor babies". The correct interpretation of the 14th Amendment means that all people born in the United States are citizens with respect to all laws. In the case of "anchor babies", the parent is in the United States illegally therefore voiding automatic citizenship on that basis the mother is here illegally which makes the child's birth illegal in the United States. The burden that illegal immigrants put on United States taxpayers is estimated to be over $20 billion annually. As of 2004, in California alone, the net cost of illegal immigration to taxpayers is estimated to be nearly $9 billion annually (Su, 2010).
Whether illegal immigrants commit a disproportionate number of crimes, contribute or take from the American economy is uncertain and the statistics are contradicting. Perception bias amongst Americans leads many on both sides of the debate to reject crime rate statistics. Americans feared that the Mexican Drug War will migrate into the United States and put many Americans at jeopardy. Despite the conflicting view points, local governments are enacting legislation with the hopes of countering the illegal immigration epidemic.
California Proposition 187
In 1994, California had an estimated 1.3 million illegal immigrants, which included approximately 308,000 illegal immigrant children (Brunt, 2010). It was estimated that California spent $3 billion per year on services for illegal immigrants. Therefore, Proposition 187 was introduced by Republican Dick Mountjoy as the "Save Our State" initiative. California Proposition 187 was a 1994 ballot initiative designed to create state-run citizenship screening system in order to prohibit illegal immigrants from using health care, public education, and other social services in the State of California (Su, 2010).
The law was initially passed by the voters in November 1994 but later found unconstitutional by a federal court. Proposition 187 stirred up the ongoing issue of illegal immigration into the United States and whether or not states reserve the rights to implement laws regarding illegal immigration (Brunt, 2010). After the bill's passage, activists across the country expressed dissatisfaction against Proposition 187. Many argued that the bill was discriminatory against ethnic minorities, especially those of Hispanic origin. Others expressed fear that the costs of a state-run citizenship screening system would off-set any potential savings for the public.
The constitutionality of Proposition 187 was challenged by several lawsuits (Brunt, 2010). A temporary restraining order was issued against institution of this bill three days after the bill's passage. Judge Mariana Pfaelzer issued a permanent injunction of Proposition 187 in December 1994. In 1997, Judge Pfaelzer found the law to be unconstitutional on the basis that it infringed the federal government's exclusive jurisdiction over matters relating to immigration. Brunt (2010) states that Judge Pfaelzer stated that "California is powerless to enact its own legislative scheme to regulate immigration. It is likewise powerless to enact its own legislative scheme to regulate alien access to public benefits" (p. 77). In 1999, Governor Gray Davis had the case brought before mediation and then dropped the appeals process before the courts in July 1999, effectively killing the law. However, this measure has prompted similar bills and state laws across the United States including a recent controversial bill passed in Arizona.
Senate Bill 1070
In 2010, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe neighborhoods Act was introduced in an effort to combat the overwhelming issue of illegal immigration (Su, 2010). This act is commonly referred to as the Arizona Senate Bill 1070. This was a legislative act in the state of Arizona that requires immigrants to register with the government and to have registration documents in their possession at all time. This act also makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents, helps to enforce federal immigration laws, and cracks down on those who house and hire illegal immigrants.
The Act was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. It was scheduled to go into effect on July 29, 2010 (Su, 2010). According to Su (2010) Jan Brewer stated that "We must enforce the law evenly, and without regard to skin color, accent or social status" (p 79). Brewer also vowed to ensure that police forces had proper training relative to the law and civil rights. On the same day that the bill was signed, Brewer issued an executive order requiring additional training for all officers on how to implement Senate Bill 1070 without engaging in racial profiling.
Under this new law, illegal immigrants 14 years old or older who are in the country for longer than 30 days are required to register with the United States government, and to have registration documents in their possession at all times (Brunt, 2010). The act makes it a misdemeanor crime for an illegal immigrant to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents It also obligates police to make an attempt during a lawful stop to determine a person's immigration status if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal immigrant. Anyone who presents one of the following documents; a valid Arizona driver's license, a valid non-operating identification license, a valid tribal enrollment card, or any valid federal, state, or local government-issued identification constitutes proof of legal status. Any person arrested cannot be released without confirmation of that person's legal immigration status. A first offense carries a fine of up to $100, plus court costs, and up to 20 days in jail; subsequent offenses can result in up to 30 days in jail (Su, 2010). If a person is in violation of a criminal law in addition to the offense of transporting or harboring illegal immigrants then they are charged with a class 1 misdemeanor if there were fewer than 10 illegal immigrants involved. It is a class 6 misdemeanor if 10 or more illegal immigrants were involved.
The United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on July 6, 2010 (Su, 2010). They were asking that the law be declared invalid since it interferes with immigration regulations enforced by the federal government. The department's lawyers stated that "The Constitution and the federal immigration laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country" (p 79). A direct suit of a state by the federal government is rare and it was done in an effort to dissuade other states from considering similar laws from moving forward. On July 28, 2010, Judge Bolton issued a ruling on the Justice Department suit granting a preliminary injunction that blocked the most key and controversial portions of Senate Bill 1070 from going into effect. However, Judge Bolton's ruling let a number of other aspects of the law take effect on July 29, 2010.
Arizona is the first state to enact a law such as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (Brunt, 2010). Prior laws in Arizona did not mandate that law enforcement had to ask about immigration status. In fact, many police departments discourage such inquiries to avoid deterring immigrants from reporting crimes and cooperating with police. Arizona has a history of passing restrictions on illegal immigration but none as aggressive as Senate Bill 1070. Many advantages and disadvantages immediately emerged from this bill. People feared that this new legislation would promote racial profiling amongst police officers while supporters stated that the law prohibits the use of race as the sole basis for investigating immigration status (Su, 2010). Due to these concerns, the law was modified within a week of its signing. Passage of this law has prompted other states to consider passing similar legislation. It has also spurred outrage from communities and prompted protests in over 70 cities in the United.
The law was enacted because Arizona has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants; it is the state with the most illegal crossings of the Mexico-United States border (Su, 2010). By the late 1990's, Tuscon Border Patrol Sector had become the location for the most number of arrests by the United States Border Patrol. By the late 2000's, Phoenix was seeing an average of one kidnapping per day which earned its reputation as America's worst city. Arizona was experiencing a shift in the demographics including a larger Hispanic population, increased drugs and human smuggling related violence in Mexico and Arizona, and a struggling economy. State residents were also frustrated by the lack of federal progress on immigration.
Brunt (2010) stated that a Rasmussen Reports poll, which is an American media company that publishes and distributes information based on opinion polling, conducted nationally around the time of the signing of the bill indicated that 60 percent of Americans were in favor, and 31 percent were opposed to legislation that allows police to stop and verify immigration status of anyone suspect of being an illegal immigrant. A nationwide New York Times/CBS News poll found that 51 percent of respondents thought that the Arizona law was the right approach to combat illegal immigration, 36 percent thought that it went too far, and 9 percent said that it did not go far enough. Other polls conducted found similar results. The majority of the public was in favor of Senate Bill 1070 before the media coverage and actual signing of the bill. Another Rasmussen poll done statewide several days after the heavy news coverage over Senate Bill 1070, found a large majority of Arizonans still supported it, by a 64 percent to 30 percent margin. Rasmussen also found that Brewer's approval ratings as governor had increased from 40 percent to 56 percent. Another CBS News poll conducted a month after the signing, showed that 52 percent thought that the law was about right, 28 percent thinking it had gone too far, and 17 percent thought that it did not go far enough.
Su (2010) states that it has been accused that Senate Bill 1070 violates many constitutional aspects such as:
it violates the federal Supremacy Clause by attempting to bypass federal immigration law;
violates the Fourteenth Amendment and Equal Protection Clause rights of racial and national origin minorities by subjecting them to stops, detentions, and arrests based on their race or origin;
violates the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech by exposing speakers to scrutiny based on their language or accent;
violates the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures because it allows for warrantless searches in absence of probable cause;
violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause by being impermissibly vague;
and it infringes on constitutional provisions that protect the rights to travel without being stopped, questioned, or detained.
Brunt (2010) states that The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) publically criticized the statute as a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. This clause gives the federal government authority over the states in immigration matters and provides that only the federal government can enact and enforce immigration laws. Su (2010) points out that Mexican President Felipe Calderon's office said that "the Mexican government condemns the approval of the law [and] the criminalization of migration" (p 79). President Calderon also characterized the new law as a violation of human rights. In response to these comments, Su (2010) notes that Mexico has a law that is very similar to that of Arizona's. This referred to legislation which gives local police the power to check documents of people suspected of being in the country illegally. Immigration and human rights activists have also noted that Mexican authorities frequently engage in racial profiling, harassment, and shakedowns against migrants from Central America.
Since World War II, boundaries between Mexico and the United States have diminished (Ngai, 2003). A hundred years ago, wage differences were as large as they are today yet there was virtually no immigration between the two countries (Center for Immigration Studies, 2010). The exchange of people and goods was limited because of the distance, lack of transportation, and linguistic and cultural differences. Today, the scenario is vastly different due to the large scale illegal immigration. Americans and policy makers face difficult choices on the issue of illegal immigration. Countries that feel burdened by illegal immigration often fight to minimize the fiscal burden of immigrants and limit workplace competition for Americans (Broeders et al., 2007). At the same time, some Americans and policy makers have come to understand the role that illegal immigrants play in the growing economy. Hanson et al., (2001) discuss that in the United States, the government appears unwilling to incur the economic costs that accompany the fight against illegal immigration. Consequences are rarely imposed on employers who hire illegal immigrants and the Immigration and Naturalization Services department has also abandoned work-site raids since 1997. Many government agencies have developed the motto that "once you are in, you are in" (p 23). These short comings and the potential financial burden associated with cracking down on illegal immigration has lead to a steady stream of illegal immigrants into the United States.
There is an extreme desire to emigrate from Mexico into the United States due to poverty (LoBreglio, 2004). Immigrants of Mexican citizens bring approximately $4 to $7 billion into Mexico each year with the funds going to some of the most poverty-stricken areas. Emigration is the third largest source of foreign reserves after trade and tourism. It has been suggested that to eliminate illegal immigration, one must eliminate the desire and need to immigrate to the United States (McKanders, 2007). Despite the popularity or immigrating to Mexico, the country has suffered greatly from this trend. Mexico has lost millions of working age men and women to the United States which has resulted in the depopulation of villages and towns in Mexico. The workforce in Mexico is populated with women who caused an adjustment to the labor market. The best scenario for Mexico would be that emigrants leave in hard times, send money home, and then come home in good times to work, invest and run businesses which would improve the economy in Mexico. The Mexican government would like the United States to allow more border crossing mobility between the two countries. It is believed that the free movement of people would increase the economic situation in Mexico while eliminating the illegal immigration issue in the United States. A program incorporating temporary, work-based migration of Mexicans to the United States may prove more beneficial than the passage of bills such as Proposition 187 and Senate Bill 1070. It would potentially limit the financial impact on the United States taxpayers while allowing Mexican migrant workers to pass freely between the two countries.
There are numerous current proposals to combat illegal immigration (McKanders, 2007). Public sentiment suggests that the government should limit the number of legal migrants but this notion is not supported by Congress or the administration. The key issues being considered are greater emphasis on employment related migration and amnesty and guest worker programs. In January 2004, the Bush Administration proposed a solution to illegal immigration in the form of a new guest worker program (LoBreglio, 2004). To qualify, the worker must have a job offer and the employer must show that no Americans wanted the job. Under this program, undocumented workers would gain temporary worker status and would be privilege to the rights and protections of legal workers. The workers would also be required to return to their home country at the end of their employment term. This proposal did not have many public supporters and Congress never acted upon it.
The United States is now preparing to crack down on illegal immigration through legislative acts such Proposition 187 and Senate Bill 1070. However, these bills have been met with such criticism and resistance that the government is being forced to devise other solutions (McKanders, 2007). One may predict, based on past history, that when the United States government is overwhelmed in their efforts to stop illegal immigration, they have historically provided amnesty (Maddern, 2008). There are numerous solutions to the issue of illegal immigration such as; "attrition through enforcement" wherein if our existing immigration laws are consistently enforced and jobs cut off, the number of illegal immigrants will return to their home countries over time, the allowance of free movement between the two countries, mass amnesty, or the enactment of legislative acts such as Senate Bill 1070 (LoBreglio, 2004). All potential solutions will be met with resistance of some form or another. The issue over illegal immigration into the United States has been an ongoing battle for centuries and it is not expected to reach a solution that both countries will approve of anytime in the near future. In the meantime, while the government debates about their next strategy, the overall number of illegal immigrants continues to substantially grow.