What I want to do, however, is take a quick look back to what the voters of Arizona have done to try to deal with the very real problems happening in the state that are related to illegal immigration. Before I do that, for old times sake, a disclaimer...
For the record I believe in and support legal immigration and look to welcome all from foreign lands that would love an opportunity to pursue what millions of others have done in this country's history. Come one, come all. Doesn't matter to me your race, religion, orientation, or anything else as long as your intention is make sincere attempts at assimilating into this incredible melting pot and enjoying the kind of liberty that is not often found in many other areas on this planet. Basically follow the laws of the land, just like I have to... and be willing to deal with the ramifications if you choose not to follow the laws of the land, just like I have to. I have many special people in my life that come from all walks of life and various backgrounds. I listened well to the great Martin Luther King Jr.'s lesson to treat people based on the content of their character and not on the color of their skin.
Okay then let's get started. We are heading back into the year 2004 for our first stop. The voters of Arizona were asked to approve or defeat a ballot proposition dealing with identification and proof of citizenship to vote and to collect state or locally funded public benefits. It was Prop 200 and it was approved by voters with 56% of the vote. (see the voting breakdowns here)
The voters passed this proposition even though there was a lineup of heavy's that were publicly against it, including; both AZ US Senators (one is now running for reelection and has conveniently changed his tune), the then governor of the state and now current US Homeland Security Secretary, the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the AFL-CIO, the Democrat Party, and yes even the Republican Party. What strange bedfellows were made. Still the measure passed by the voters (you know, the ones that really matter).
Of course there were many that played the race card back then. There's plenty of articles online that cry out that the proposition was racist. I'm not going to opine on that, but I voted in favor. Keep in mind that at the time the economy in 2004 was pretty darn good around these parts, but voters knew that if we were to have public safety nets that they should go to Arizonans first, second, and always if at all.
After the election results were posted a restraining order was placed on the proposition. I cannot find who filed for that order but my memory bank inside my head says it was the then governor of the state. The courts became heavily involved and it is my understanding that the proposition as it was intended is watered down, I guess to the point where nobody seems to remember the voice of the voters from six years ago. The US Supreme Court had the final say in the requirement to show valid ID to vote which they upheld (again not a legal scholar so I may not being using the correct legaleeze).
From there let us head to the election year 2006 shall we?? There were three ballot propositions dealing with illegal immigration issues that year (a fourth if you want to include one about making English the official language in the state). Propositions 100 and 102 amended the Arizona Constitution and Prop 300 that called for, once again, the requirement of proof of US citizenship for various publicly subsidized services such as in state tuition and financial assistance. Prop 100 denied bail to those charged with serious felonies that were in the US illegally, and Prop102 denied the award of punitive damages in civil court cases to persons who are in the US illegally.
The results of the election showed that each proposition passed easily with each issue gathering at least 70% of the vote. (here is a breakdown of the results but it doesn't have all the props included, but you can find some results if you are looking for them in other less official looking places)
I'll stop right here and say that I don't recall the California cities of LA or SF boycotting the state of Arizona after the voters had their say on these issues. I do remember the race card players came out to play a little but it is just too difficult to do that when 70% (or more) of the voters go a different way.
Back to it now, most of the news article that I run into regarding Prop 300 from 2006 deal with college tuition. I don't know how the then governor and the Attorney General dealt with the voters wishes to roll back public welfare benefits to illegal immigrants. I'm guessing the proposition was once again watered down to have practically zero bite.
Before we head to our last stop on how Arizona voters see the illegal immigration issue, the state legislature passed a bill in 2007 called The Legal Arizona Worker's Act -- aka The Employers Sanction Law (see more here). There was curios reaction to this bill from both sides of the political spectrum. Once again the race card players were out in force, but this time so was the business community -- aka the evil capitalist pigs (which BTW, I'm totally cool with those folks for the most part, profit is good). The bill was challenged in court but allowed and went into affect on January 1, 2008.
By the time the elections of 2008 came around a ballot proposition (Prop 202) appeared asking the voters to tone down the requirements of the bill -- on behalf of the business community basically. I'll let the following explain it...
Proposition 202 changes current Arizona law that prohibits employers from intentionally or knowingly employing an alien who is not authorized under federal law to work in the United States. Under Proposition 202, the definition of "knowingly employ an unauthorized alien" would be changed to require actual knowledge by an owner or officer of the employer.
So you'd think that all us supposedly racist voters (as the race card players call us) here in Arizona would relent and let those evil capitalists off the hook, but you'd be wrong. Prop 202 was defeated by Arizona voters fairly handily.
I'm just trying to point out the fact that voters in Arizona want solutions to ILLEGAL immigration problems. The problems range from fairly minor to completely out of control violence. The state is now broke, the economy sucks, and we simply cannot afford the public assistance programs we are offering to actual Arizonans and other US citizens. How could we possibly afford to provide welfare for non US citizens at a time like this?? Voters have been speaking out loud and clear even while elected officials remain defiant to our wishes (or simply change their tune when they are up for reelection).
SB 1070 is not the first attempt by the voters of Arizona to deal with the issues. Not by a long shot. I feel the other actions of previous elections and legislative acts were a lot less contentious but they ended up being practically thwarted by race card players and politicians in defiance of the people. SB 1070 may look more aggressive but where can the citizens of Arizona draw the line?? We tried on public benefits, we tried on employers, but now are relying on law enforcement to be involved. Not really the way I want it to go down as I understand the voices (mostly on the left) that speak to the possibility of racial profiling. I don't want that, but I also don't want NOTHING done to deal with a very expensive problem we are facing.
In recent days we come to find out that in California's penal code there is language that is pretty darn similar to what is found in SB 1070... but public leaders in CA want to boycott our state anyway. I've also read about laws in Oklahoma that were singed into law by a governor that was in the democrat party that is also similar to The Legal Arizona Worker's Act we have in Arizona. Don't remember national outcries of NBA players condemning the state of Oklahoma at all, can you??
I readily admit that I don't have the solution to make all sides happy, but it has become tiresome to be called a racist for having an Arizona residence. Most of the critics have admitted that they have not read SB 1070, including some that work directly for our current president of this great country (I doubt he has read it either).
America is a beautiful place, I'm blessed to live here and look forward to having more friendly neighbors. We must find a better way, but we also must have priorities. Tough decisions come with the territory. Time for solutions is here.