Safety or Liberty a False Choice

It’s clear that the federal government has abdicated its responsibility to protect our life, liberty and property from foreign threat in its inaction in enforcing current immigration laws.   In response to the increased border traffic and lack of enforcement by the feds , Arizona has passed AZ SB 1070 to protect citizens from an increasingly dangerous situation.  But the bill also contains troubling language that may lead to mass violations of the civil liberties of American citizens.   So the question is, does the state’s responsibility to protect her citizens trump her citizen’s right to live free of undo government interference?   

Before continuing, you might want to invest a few minutes to read the official fact sheet on AZ SB 1070.  Go ahead give it a read, I’ll wait…  On it’s surface the bill seems to simply require Arizona law enforcement to enforce immigration laws already on the books.  Not a bad idea, laws aren’t much use if not enforced and Arizona certainly hasn’t received much federal help in cracking down on illegal immigration.   In fact, the building of the California and Texas border walls has served to funnel more and more illegal alien traffic to Arizona.

While this has been brewing for some time in the state, the murder of Robert Krentz on his ranch near the Mexican border in March created a groundswell of citizen support for the law.   A Rasmussen Reports poll released last week showed an overwhelming majority,  70 percent,  of Arizona voters support the new law. A majority of Arizona Democrats, 51 percent, support the bill and only 43 percent of Democrats oppose it. Arizonans are sick of the violence, drug trade and inept federal immigration policy and enforcement.

Unfortunately the bill contains a phrase that is vague and troubling.  “…if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S. …”    Here are a couple of questions to ponder.   Who is going to determine if the law enforcement officer’s suspicion was reasonable?   What the hell constitutes  “reasonable suspicion”?   Appearance?  Accent?  Driving a crappy car?  Many American born citizens fit one or all of those descriptions.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety – Benjamin Franklin, circa 1775

I have a friend that is a great American, a Patriot in his views and support of America and her ideals.  But, Rey looks a lot like a Cuban, primarily because his family is from Cuba.   What a travesty it would be if American citizens like Rey who love this country and what it stands for are intimidated by the threat of harassment simply because they have dark hair, skin and eyes.  By the way, what does an illegal Canadian immigrant look like? Will we begin asking people for their papers if they use they the word “eyy” too often?

When someone is arrested for another crime, it’s absolutely appropriate to check their immigration status, but should we all be asked for our birth certificate if we get pulled over for making an illegal right turn?  Do you carry your birth certificate with you?  Yeah, me either.  Do you believe it’s right to require one group of Americans, those with a Latino appearance, to carry a heavier burden of proof of their citizenship than other citizens?  Yeah, me neither.  And doesn’t the phrase, “show me your papers”, make you feel just the teeniest bit uneasy?  Yeah, me too.

In defense of my home state and old friends who still live there, illegal immigration is a huge public safety and welfare problem especially in southwestern border states.  It’s clear the federal government is derelict in it’s primary duty to protect our borders and the state must step in to protect her citizens life, liberty and property.  But, we must insist on the preservation of all three, we cannot protect our life and property at the expense of our liberty.

A Rasmussen Reports poll released last week showed an astonishing 70 percent of Arizona voters supporting the new law. Considerably less reported is that a majority of Arizona Democrats

– 51 percent – support the Pearce bill. Only 43 percent of Democrats oppose it.


About Larry Downes

Son, brother, husband, father, boss, mentor & friend. Believer in unfettered personal liberty. Occasional host on 93.1 WIBC in Indianapolis.

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