Dyer on Arizona crackdown on illegal immigrants


But suppose I went to Mexico as a tourist and then stayed there illegally, taking work that might otherwise have gone to some deserving Mexican citizen. I would not be treated more gently by the Mexican authorities.

Why does Mexico believe that its own citizens who are illegally in the deserve better treatment?

Generally speaking an illegal immigrant has few rights – they are in a country in defiance of that country’s law. It annoys me that many stories do not distinguish between immigrants and illegal immigrants. There is a world of difference.

Each year the number of permanently resident illegal immigrants grows. Even in Arizona, where there is not a huge demand for agricultural labour, there are now an estimated 460,000 illegal Mexican immigrants, about 7 per cent of Arizona’s total population.

Some argue that they are doing jobs nobody else wants, but that is only a possible reason for letting them stay. It certainly does not give them the right to stay.

There is certainly no right to say.

Having said that don’t think trying to evict every illegal immigrant in the US is productive or practical. I would support an amnesty for illegal immigrants who have work to come forward and become legal immigrants. This should be a one off opportunity. The reality is many immigrants are providing valuable labour and goods and services.

Following the amnesty, then there should be a serious effort at minimising future illegal , and detecting and deporting quickly illegal immigrants

Arizona is calling time on that system, and intends to seek out and send home people who are in the state illegally.

In most parts of the world, that would not be regarded as unreasonable. What is different in Arizona’s case?

The implicit charge is racism. The assumption is that American citizens of Mexican origin, and legitimate Mexican visitors, will also be stopped and asked to prove they are legally in the United States – and that they will be chosen for questioning on the grounds they simply look “Mexican”.

That is a legitimate concern.

Simply enforce the same rules that apply in airport security queues to ensure that nobody feels they are being “profiled” because of their ethnicity.

In the airports, they make sure that heavily bearded young men who look “Middle Eastern” face no greater risk of being selected for special examination than paraplegic grandmothers.

I’ve never been convinced this is a particularly sensible policy. And yes I know that is contradictory a bit to the above, but I regard your right to board a plane without facing a couple of questions as far less a right than walking down your local street without harassment.

The Arizona police should be instructed to stop 13 white, black and Asian people and check that they are legally in the state for every person they stop who looks “Mexican”.

Then nobody will have anything to complain about.

That might well be what they do. Of course I suspect it will be fairly ineffective and we will just see a lot of illegal immigrants shift to other states.

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