There is a lot of ruckus over the new immigration law just passed in Arizona in an attempt to bring at least a modicum of control over the illegal immigration problem that has been plaguing our southwestern border states. Amidst all the cry of foul – Racists! Bigots! Xenophobes! – the Arizona issue is not likely to be moved from the front page of the newspaper any time soon.
This got me to thinking – What has been our nation’s legal policy concerning immigration since our inception in the late 1700s? The first European settlers held this belief: “The settling of America began with an idea. The idea was that people can join together and agree to govern themselves by making laws for the common good.”
The first legal document to control illegal immigration was established in 1790, called the Naturalization Act, stipulating that "any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States." The big concern expressed in this document was an obvious bias against Native American Indians and black slaves.
In 1875 “the Supreme Court declared that regulation of US immigration is the responsibility of the Federal Government.” A few years later in 1891, “the Federal Government assumed the task of inspecting, admitting, rejecting, and processing all immigrants seeking admission to the U.S.” This led to the establishment of Ellis Island as an ingress point in New York Harbor in 1892. The Immigration Act of 1903 was written to reinforce the 1891 law which particularly targeted our border states in the southwest, “calling for rules covering entry as well as inspection of aliens crossing the Mexican border.” The US Immigration Act of 1907 “reorganized the states bordering Mexico (Arizona, New Mexico and a large part of Texas) into the Mexican Border District to stem the flow of immigrants into the United States.” What isn’t mentioned in this bit of history is the continuous problem of Mexican bandits raiding American homes and towns across the border, by no less a notorious bad man than Pancho Villa.
From 1917–1924 “a series of laws were enacted to further limit the number of new immigrants. These laws established the quota system and imposed passport requirements. They expanded the categories of excludable aliens and banned all Asians except Japanese” (rapidimmigration.com from the U.S. Immigration web site). The 1924 Act “reduced the number of US immigration visas and allocated them on the basis of national origin.”
The 1940 Alien Registration Act “required all aliens (non-U.S. citizens) within the United States to register with the Government and receive an Alien Registration Receipt Card (the predecessor of the "Green Card").” In 1950, the actual Green Card was implemented.
USA Patriot Act 2001 “was passed so as to unite and strengthen America by providing appropriate tools required to intercept and obstruct terrorism," and therefore, terrorists.
There were lesser bills and laws passed over the years, but the point in all of this is that there are plenty of laws on the books already that simply need to be enforced. Arizona is frustrated because of an inept and unwilling federal government to enforce its own standing laws. In a current web site article, “How Could They Do That In Arizona!” writer and educator, Victor Davis Hanson, surmises, “As I understand the opposition to the recent Arizona law, it boils down to something like the following: the federal government’s past decision not to enforce its own law should always trump the state’s right to honor it.” Hmmmm. Good point. He goes on to ask whether or not a state has the right to enforce a law the federal government chooses not to enforce. If the current administration follows through with its threat to investigate the legality of the Arizona Law, will they not find that Arizona is simply acting on current federal law?
A major factor in the illegal immigration controversy is the cost incurred by American citizens. Case in point: Hospital closures. In a study performed covering 1995-2000, of all the hospitals closed in California during this time frame, a staggering 65% (15 facilities) occurred in Southern California – specifically, Los Angeles and San Diego. Nearly half of those that closed were “for-profit” organizations. The top reasons given: “Each of the closed hospitals experienced declining reimbursements, income per bed, and utilization in the year prior to closure.” American hospitals, by law, are required to treat anyone who comes through their doors. As reported, the biggest drain on these hospitals in Southern California is illegal aliens that do not have health insurance, or any other means of paying for services rendered. This means the hospital is left holding the bill. You can only do that for so long before you run out of the necessary financial resources to stay in operation, especially if you are a for-profit entity.
As of this writing, news reports indicate a lot more states are considering implementing legislation like Arizona that will allow them to act on what the federal government has been fearful of acting on when it comes to illegal immigration.
This is a growing problem. Cooler heads must prevail if we are to get control of this out-of-control illegal immigration issue.