Category: Immigration

Paper Chase

According to an Arizona lawyer, a federal judge has upheld the most controversial aspect of Arizona’s already-controversial immigration law, the provision which allows law enforcement officials to question the immigration status of individuals who have been stopped for other reasons (such as speeding). The provision, which is known by detractors as the “show-me-your-papers” provision, has come under fire because of its obvious potential for civil rights violations and racial profiling.

I feel conflicted about this one. On the one hand, I do think that states should be given a wide latitude to come up with measures which allow them to more effectively enforce their laws (because, after all, a law is only a law insofar as it can be put into effect). On the other hand, in my experience, law enforcement officials frequently overstep the boundaries of their authority, and a provision such as this which essentially gives them carte blanche to inspect individuals’ immigration status (and which will clearly only be directed at racial minorities) has a serious potential for abuse. Ultimately, I probably have to come down against this, in terms of preference, while acknowledging that the federal judge probably made the correct ruling. Now, if there is evidence of systematic abuse of this system in a few years, I think a civil rights lawsuit could justifiably be filed to try and end discriminatory practices.

Illegal Legalities

A recent case in California is testing the limits of how far our country is willing to extend legal rights to those who come to our country illegally. In California, a man is applying to be admitted to the bar to practice law in the state. The only problem is, he’s here illegally. The California Supreme Court is currently considering whether or not to grant his request, even though the U.S. Department of Justice has made clear that doing so would contradict federal law.

Some people are saying this is a difficult case, with a variety of legal issues to consider. Let me make it real clear – it isn’t. I have nothing against this man, he sounds like a perfectly hard worker (I should know; passing the bar is not an easy thing to do) and his circumstances are at the heart of the American success story. But he isn’t here legally, and there is simply no way that he can legally practice the law. The idea of a rule of law is that it applies equally to everyone, and as much as I can sympathize with his case, there cannot be exceptions. None, whatsoever.