Saturday, January 15, 2005

Immigration Redux, Part 3

Eagle-eyed blog ally Sandi of Vista on Current Events brought to my attention that two judges of the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco have denied a preliminary injuction by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund to block Arizona from implementing Proposition 200, the law approved by Arizona voters in November that requires proof that a person is not an illegal immigrant when applying for some government services and proof of citizenship when registering to vote. It also says government workers who do not report illegal immigrants seeking the benefits can face jail time. This is, of course, the appeal made after they were stymied by U.S. District Judge David Bury in their attempt to block Proposition 200.

The thing that struck me about this is the reason given for the appeal:

The appeal claims Bury was wrong in concluding that there are no serious questions about the scope and constitutionality of Proposition 200. It also says the court failed to recognize that the measure violates federal law partly because it requires state and local government employees to check the immigration status of anyone seeking public benefits and to turn over undocumented immigrants to immigration authorities.

The law also discourages qualified immigrants from seeking public benefits they are entitled to receive under federal law, Ortega said.

As one of my favorite characters, Obviousman (see movie), from the comic strip Non Sequitur would say....DUH!

1. "Undocumented" immigrants are in the United States ILLEGALLY; therefore, they are committing a crime.

2. It is not against the law to require government workers to report crimes being committed.

3. It is not against the law to deny certain services at the state's and the Federal government's discretion to people who commit crimes. Think "prison".

4. Federal benefits are not affected by state law, nor are Federal employees covered by Proposition 200's reporting requirement. This means that the Federal government, in its infinite wisdom, can continue to give benefits to illegal immigrants -- they just will not be able to use Arizona state or local officials to apply for them.

My cynical guess on why the judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did this is because they hope that, by the time they actually have to rule on the constitutionality of the law in six to eight months, the enforcement of it -- or the lawsuit currently pending to extend it to more services than the state will currently allow will have created some type of constitutional issue that they can use as an excuse to strike it down. What I think will happen, though, is that any attempt by the Ninth Court to strike down the provision will result in Congressional action to define Federal benefits as being available only to citizens of the United States.

As I've stated before in multiple locations, I understand the forces that drive people to immigrate to the United States illegally, and I certainly don't want to leave them to starve. However, my reluctant view is that preventing them from starving is my responsibility as a private citizen (read charity), while my responsibility as a public citizen is merely ensuring that the legal rights to which they are entitled, i.e. consular privilege, are respected. In short, if I want to help them, I can pay for it -- I can't force others to do so via taxation.

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