Brent Batten: Arizona illegal immigration law about more than police powers

BRENT BATTEN

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By now you know, via accounts of how Attorney General Eric Holder has not read the 16-page Arizona immigration law and of how Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano has not read the 16-page Arizona immigration law, that the Arizona immigration law is 16 pages.

You also know that the law empowers local law enforcement to check the legal status of individuals they stop.

Even the best lawyer can’t stretch that provision to cover 16 pages, so what else is in the Arizona law?

More than half of it is devoted to an often overlooked aspect of the immigration problem, the willingness of American businesses and individuals to hire illegal immigrants.

Beginning on page 5, the law transitions away from telling local law enforcement what they can and should do to ferret out illegal immigrants from the community into telling employers what they cannot do to entice them to be in the United States in the first place.

Like the portions relating to law enforcement, the latter part of Arizona’s law has drawn criticism from civil libertarians. But at the very least, the law makes an effort to deal with the economic realities that drive many to sneak into the U.S. or to overstay their welcome once here.

Arizona Senate Bill 1070 makes an attempt, albeit a feeble one, to address the most basic of transactions between illegal immigrants and those that would employ them _ the roadside pickup of day laborers.

Southwest Florida morning commuters are familiar with the gaggles of men seen daily at convenience stores and on street corners. It is generally known that if you need manual labor for a day you can load as many willing workers as you need into your car or truck as long as the payment is in cash and there are no questions asked.

In Arizona it is now unlawful, if a motor vehicle is stopped on a road and blocks or impedes the normal movement of traffic, to attempt to hire or hire and pick up passengers for work at a different location. It is also against the law for a person to enter the motor vehicle in order to be hired and to be transported to work at a different location. The law doesn’t address what happens when the transaction takes place in the parking lot, away from the flow of traffic.

The law goes so far as to make it illegal for an undocumented worker to gesture or nod in such a way as to communicate that he is willing to be hired. Needless to say, that section runs afoul of the American Civil Liberties Union, which wrote in an analysis, “In order to be subject to the first or second parts of this Section, the vehicle in question has to be obstructing traffic. This provision is adds no value insofar as there are already laws on the books that address traffic hazards. It is also likely to be found unconstitutional by the courts because the third part singles out the speech of immigrant day laborers for criminalization. The solicitation of work has been found by courts across the county to be protected speech under the First Amendment,” the ACLU concluded.

Further on, the Arizona law tackles more substantive employment issues, such as the obligation of employers to verify immigration status of those they hire. It sets up a process under which reports, even anonymous ones, of illegal immigrants at job sites can be filed. The reports can’t be based solely on the race of the workers in question, however.

Employers found in violation can face a loss of their license to do business in the state.

Another part of the law prohibits individual towns or counties from limiting the enforcement of immigration laws.

Arizona Senate Bill 1070 goes far beyond police checking the immigration status of those they arrest.

It’s worth reading. And, as you may have heard, it’s only 16 pages.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW

Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten

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