New Arizona Immigration Law Could Increase Undocumented Crime04.27.10
Many people on both sides of the argument have already spoken their piece about the new immigration law in Arizona – the toughest in the country – that requires law enforcement officials to question people if there is a doubt about the legality of their citizenship.
Those opposed to the law argue that it will cause racial profiling because, well, let’s just say Arizona isn’t worried about the growing immigrant population coming over illegally from Sweden. Those in favor of the law argue that illegal immigrants are living in their state unlawfully and this law simply pushes the authorities to enforce those laws.
And really, the issue isn’t simply that people live here unlawfully. It’s because of the increased amount of violence in cities near the Mexican border and the belief out there that illegal immigrants are the cause of this increased violence from the drug trade.
I wonder, though, that in trying to ease criminal activity and prevent violence in American cities, this law might actually increase the crime rate, specifically the number of undocumented crimes. Let’s say you’re an illegal immigrant living in Tucson when your home gets burglarized. Broken windows. Stolen TV. The works. Do you call the police? Now that this law has gone into effect, I’d say there’s a high chance that you don’t. Even though you work hard to earn your money through legitimate means and you were the victim of a crime, it’s going to be better to just absorb the loss on your own and go about your business rather than involve the police and risk being arrested, jailed or deported, and separated from your family.
There’s a danger that this law will cause illegal immigrants to become this odd form of marginalized resident in Arizona: one who remains a vital part of the American economy and workforce yet is forced to essentially live in hiding, unable to report lawlessness – the very kind that this new measure purports to ebb – for fear of losing everything they have.
And if that’s the case, this law will be a total failure.