If you enter a country illegally, you get:
North Korea — 12 yrs hard labor
Afghanistan — shot
Most other countries (European Union members, etc) — jail/deportation
USA — a job, driver's license, money for a place to live, health care, education, billions spent so you can read documents and signs in your native language, etc.
We have to carry passports in other countries or face jail time (with possible hard labor), deportation or even death. Is the Arizona law really that harsh?
A brief synopsis of the new Arizona Immigration law (from the NY Times):
"(1)It requires police officers, 'when practicable,' to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and to verify their status with federal officials, unless doing so would hinder an investigation or emergency medical treatment.
"(2)It also makes it a state crime — a misdemeanor — to not carry immigration papers. (3)In addition, it allows people to sue local government or agencies if they believe federal or state immigration law is not being enforced."
So, to summarize the summary, this law:
1) Allows detention of foreign nationals who are suspected of being here illegally, until their legality can be verified.
2) Makes a Federal law a State law as well (carrying required documentation).
3) Allows individuals to sue the Government for lack of enforcement.
Let's deal with number 2 first, because it's the easiest. By Federal law, Foreign Nationals who are in our country legally are required to carry appropriate documentation. Failure to do so breaks Federal mandate, so it breaks a Federal law. States have a difficult time enforcing Federal law, so in many cases will pass a similar State law to ease the enforcement process. Many of our traffic laws follow this method.
Keeping with traffic laws as a parallel, number 1 is easier to put into perspective. Under "reasonable suspicion", police officers can detain anyone they reasonably suspect of breaking the law. A driver is swerving, alcohol is smelled on his breath, his car smells of marijuana; all of these are reasonable reasons to hold a driver on suspicion of illegal activities. We accept this. But, what is reasonable suspicion of being an illegal alien?
We have no National Language, so being unable to speak English, while suspicious, is not enough for "reasonable suspicion". What about not having a Driver's License? By law, if we drive, we are required to carry one while we drive. What if ALL drivers who are stopped without one are detained until proof of identity can be found?
Currently, under traffic laws, police officials can already do this, but it is infrequently enforced. The same goes for providing a Social Security card to work or passing a credit check to buy/rent a place to live (OK, the second one is only policy, not a law). This law is only reiterating existing laws across the country that require individuals to carry proof-of-identity. Hey! That ties right into number 2!
The only new bit, really, is number 3. This is a radical idea. Making officials legally responsible for upholding the law? We should vote them out of office for this! We should demand an official inquiry that could cost appointed officials to be fired! We could... Oh, wait ... that's what we have now, isn't it? Currently, anyone can sue anyone for anything. It's up to the judges if they want to throw it out for absurdity. This "new law" isn't any different.
So, why is this "new law" such a flash point? It has "immigration" in the text. Politicians on one side yell "citizens rights", and get everyone rooting for them. Politicians on the other side yell "human rights" to get everyone rooting for them. When is a side going to yell "common sense"? Oh, yeah. Common sense doesn't get you any attention. Who wants that?