Paul Mauro: Baumgardner should learn from Arizona visit
Steamboat Springs — I spend half of my year in Arizona, so I read with interest the article about Rep. Randy Baumgardner’s recent visit to Arizona (“Border trip spurs debate,” Aug. 27, 2010, Steamboat Today). I wish to thank him for the trip because he helped the tourism industry that is in desperate straits since the passage of the new immigration law SB 1070. The new law in Arizona is not going to accomplish what many across the U.S. think it will. Nor will it do anything for the real problem with security at the border. I hope Mr. Baumgardner learned that.
First, it already is against federal law to be in the United States illegally. Arizona didn’t need a new law for that; it already is on the books. Second, police already had the power to detain individuals suspected of being here illegally. The controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been chasing illegals for years.
So what did the law add to the arsenal for security? It requires police to ask for papers. Because police already had the power to ask for papers, some police jurisdictions have opposed the law. They believe this requires them to do time-consuming searches, often for no value. And because they are not likely to stop Canadian visitors — or Coloradans for that matter — to check their passports, the law has raised the specter of profiling brown-toned people only.
The main problem with the law is it doesn’t address the real problem. Illegals running through the desert aspiring to become bus boys or lettuce pickers in Phoenix might be an irritant, but they are not dangerous. These people don’t kill border patrol or police officers, they run from them. And they don’t disturb residents except to beg for water. Besides, if you really wanted to stop these incursions, you would merely enforce the existing law that penalizes employers for hiring illegals. The dominant Arizona newspaper did a recent survey and found that only one-third of Arizona employers are using the eVerify system to check the immigration status of job applicants. Again, no new law necessary. It’s simple: no jobs available, no illegal immigration.
The real problem is the drug cartels. They will resort to killing to protect their merchandise. A new law that says you must ask for papers doesn’t help here because you won’t get close to these people. The cartels are way too sophisticated and well-financed to climb over fences and sneak through the desert on foot. Experts who have examined this issue have offered that the way to stop the drug runners is to seize their money, stop the reverse flow of weapons into Mexico, and attack the drug sales (the demand end of the supply-and-demand curve). SB 1070 does absolutely nothing to help this. In fact, perversely, Arizona is simultaneously relaxing gun laws, thus making it easier for drug runners to obtain and transport weapons.
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This all hit the fan as a result of a single murder in southern Arizona. While the murder was deplorable, it is not believed to be the action of future bus boys. Local police believe it’s related to drugs. As one reporter noted: “If an illegal immigrant did murder Krentz, it would be the first time in more than a decade that a migrant has killed an American along the border’s Tucson, Ariz., sector” (Tim Padgett, July 30, 2010, Arizona Republic). What is different during the past 10 years is the drug running into the U.S. The Arizona Legislature overreacted by passing SB 1070. It might feel good, but it is ineffective and unnecessary — and mostly redundant.
I hope when, and if, Baumgardner goes to the Colorado Legislature, he doesn’t lead them to make the same mistake Arizona made with SB 1070. Police action to stop the flow of drugs and drug runners is what is needed.
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