Immigration is one of the burning global problems of the XX-XXI centuries. Public debates over the core of this phenomenon and successful ways of its solving have been addressed for many decades. Providing the state immigration policy, Americans, the nation of immigrants, were on the edge of splitting up because of this extremely controversial issue. A range of laws enforcing immigration has raised numerous civil rights concerns in the United States. The 287(g) Cooperative Immigration Enforcement Agreements, Arizona Senate Bill 1070 were among them. The United States has faced the problem that its current immigration system is broken, and approximately eleven million undocumented immigrants living in the country are exploited and deprived of civil rights. Having increased discrimination against the US citizens, the undertaken sanctions were ineffective and had negative civil rights consequences (Johnson, 2012).
According to the dictionary, immigration means “the movement of non-native people into a country in order to settle there” (Free Dictionary, n. d.). Immigration policy and regulation have been provided in the United States since the nineteenth century. Since 1876, when the Supreme Court prohibited states from influencing the admission and deportation of immigrants; the exclusive authority to control immigration has been granted to the federal government.
A range of immigration laws has been passed during the last decades. In 1986, the Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), imposing sanctions for hiring undocumented immigrants. Illegal Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 enforced the immigration policy. Nevertheless, the famous Arizona Senate Bill 1070 occurred to be the last straw, providing the most severe immigration reform in the history of the United States.
At the beginning of the XX century, after the Mexican Revolution, the vast number of Mexican laborers arrived in the US and found jobs in such industries as agriculture, railroads, mining, and many others. The second wave of Mexican labor immigration occurred in the 1940s, as part of the Bracero Program, adopted by the Mexican and US governments. The end of the Bracero Program for temporary laborers and the adoption of severe limits on Western Hemisphere immigration have caused the contemporary Mexican illegal immigration crisis. Federal government has failed to enforce effective immigration laws.
Being the burning problem, the border enforcement has become one of the most discussed issues in public debates and the stumbling block in political circles. For example, Hillary Clinton, a candidate from the Democratic Party, ”criticized then-president Bush for failing to allocate sufficient resources to protect the borders, while Barack Obama’s campaign website urged sending “additional personnel, infrastructure and technology” to the borders”(Bender, 2010). The mood of the country has turned against immigrants. The enforcement campaign initiated by the Clinton administration led to the great number of immigrants deaths (Bender, 2010.).
Several dualities can be observed in the state immigration policy. First, under the context, there is immigration policy related to immigration and set by the federal government. It controls entry into the country. Second, there is immigrant policy combining federal, state, and local laws. It controls immigrants once they are in the country. This scheme represents the model casting the roles in immigration policy and implicating dichotomy in the immigration law enforcement. It suggests that federal officials undertake “both criminal and civil violations of immigrant law, but state and local officials enforce only criminal violations…” (Greek, & Yoder, 2012). The key outcome of this scheme is that illegal immigration is the civil, but not criminal violation of the law. This system gives reasons for the rearrangement of the U.S. immigration enforcement infrastructure, where major activities are concentrated on the border. It provides detention of violators for the criminal offense, such as illegal crossing the U.S. border is. The clause of IIRIRA of 1996 enhanced enforcement responsibilities to states and localities (Greek, & Yoder, 2012).
State immigration policies are influenced by different factors: economic, sociodemographic, political, geographic, and intergovernmental.
Immigration to the United States has a range of benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, the USA has always attracted aliens seeking for a better life. Being low-cost labor, the immigrants are extremely favorable workers for employers. On the other hand, economic competition and individual security are the major drawbacks that the native population may perceive from immigration. Economic hazard lies in increasing rates of unemployment. To protect the native population from the jobs competition, these states are supposed to join 287(g) MOAs.
Regarding the immigration from the sociological point of view, aliens’ integration with native society has been focused on. Group-level racial and ethnic interactions are investigated, especially relationships between group-levels of African Americans, Asians, Hispanics and the native population. Accent should be made on the public’s attitude to the representatives of different nations and cultures. Finally, increasing immigration leads to increasing crime rates. Therefore, the states with immigrants overwhelming would give preference to a 287(g) MOA.
Regarding immigration from the political point of view, aliens’ political preferences and activities are focused on. In fact, Latinos support the Democratic Party that provides less restrictive policy as compared with the Republican Party. Many representatives of the Republican Party adhere to a strict policy on immigration. In fact, some policy makers from the Republican Party gave their preferences exclusively to enforcement of the immigration changes. For instance, Tom Tancredo was strongly convinced in urgent necessity to deport undocumented immigrants staying in the territory of the United States. Therefore, he viewed the future reform to be directed on the state borders internal enforcement.
In the geographic and intergovernmental field, geographic policy diffusion plays a major role. Having experienced regional diffusion caused by immigration policy, states depend on their surroundings considering the issue of entering a 287(g) agreement. For example, having certain business based on the cheap immigrants’ labor, states are not interested in immigration enforcement. The other public concern consists in unwilling aliens’ relocation from a neighboring state to its own, more convenient territory. This activity may lead to unsuitable consequences, and it is the reason of the state joining a 287(g) agreement.
In order to regulate immigration policy, the federal government provided the 287(g) program. The first state to enter the activities was Florida, having security concerns after the act of terrorism in September 2002. It was the first state to enter a 287(g) partnership with the federal government. Georgia entered the agreement in 2006, having immigration concerns as the motivation factor. As a result, the Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, and South Carolina legislatures have passed strict immigration enforcement laws discriminating against immigrants. To secure the borders and remedy the ailing economy, in April 2010, the state of Arizona passed the Arizona Senate Bill 1070. It added criminal punishment to federal immigration law and directed the enforcement officials to arrest individuals for not carrying the IDs. After Arizona’s enactment of Senate Bill 1070, undocumented immigrants were terrified of any police contact, even in the cases when they were victims of crimes. The civil rights of the undocumented immigrants raise considerable concerns. Searching for a better life, illegal immigrants from Mexico chose dangerous routs to cross the border. Risky transits across the desert and mountains result in the great number of deaths among them. Having arrived in the United States, illegal immigrants have to accept any employers’ offers because of the fear of deportation. They are often severe exploited by employers and work for low wages and little benefits (Bender, 2010).
This strict campaign, provided by the Arizona SB 1070, was stopped as being inconsistent with the federal immigration scheme in June 2010. In July 2010, the US Department of Justice made a claim against the state of Arizona. It argued that Arizona has exceeded its powers in the regulation of immigration, having passed Arizona Senate Bill (Greek, & Yoder, 2012). Focusing on the fact that states may not legislate on immigration, the Supreme Court gave an official decision about the privilege of the US Congress and the executive branch to introduce immigration laws. It places emphasis on the issue that states have no right to pass laws or provide enforcement policies, contradicting federal law. The Court banned three of the four clauses as not corresponding to the federal law. The publicity is concerned that the fourth provision, requiring Arizona officers to verify the immigration status of any individual they stop, was not dismissed. It may lead to gross negative effects and invite racial profiling in its enforcement. In response, the Supreme Court proclaimed that these activities are to be implemented according to the federal law. The police officer may stop the individual, but the decision about the punishment remains for the federal courts. As for the fourth clause, giving official permission for Arizona police to verify the immigration status of people they have detained, the Court highlighted that an official decision about its validity would depend on the circumstances. In cases of racial profiling, it may be illegal. It would violate the core values of American society – Freedom. This ruling of the Supreme Court is a significant loss for anti-immigrants forces.
On the one hand, there are major reasons for immigration restricting policy. First, the nation needs laws, protecting the state against terrorist entry and enforcing its borders. Second, being unable to compete with immigrant cheap labor, the US citizens are under the threat of raising unemployment. On the other hand, the nation should express compassion and understanding.
To sum up, the United States has always attracted immigrants, who crossed its border seeking for a better life. The thing is that many aliens arrive in the country illegally, without following the traditional immigration rules. Nowadays, the United States has faced Mexican immigration crisis caused by the end of the Bracero Program for temporary laborers and the adoption of severe limits on Western Hemisphere immigration. A wide range of laws was passed and implemented. Among them, there are the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), Illegal Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, the famous 287(g) agreement, and the Arizona Senate Bill 1070. Nevertheless, the Congress and the State of Arizona have failed to adopt the agreement on the national reform, vital for restoring coherence and respect for human rights. The problem of nearly 12 million illegal laborers has remained unsettled. The phenomenon of immigration is an extremely controversial issue that is influenced by many factors: economic, sociodemographic, political, geographic, and intergovernmental. In the economic aspect, the immigrants are extremely favorable workers for employers, being low-cost labor. On the other hand, the native population of the United States may face one of the key hazards of immigration overflow, such as increasing criminal offences and terrorism, and economic competition. Regarding the immigration from the sociological point of view, aliens’ integration with native society has been focused on. Public’s attitude toward the representatives of different nations and cultures, especially, native African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics, is controversial. This may lead to intercultural tension, being an extremely negative consequence. In the political field, immigrants are favorable for the Democratic Party that treats them with indulgence. Twelve million of immigrants are a powerful part of the electorate. In terms of geographic and intergovernmental concerns, geographic policy diffusion plays the major role. Immigration policy causes regional diffusion. Immigration is not desirable for the states that have an interest in cheap immigrants’ labor. However, the native population may face unwilling aliens’ relocation from a neighboring state to its own, more convenient territory.
The Arizona Senate Bill 1070 has raised public concerns about the state immigration policy, civil rights of individuals, and international human rights. The conservative and liberal circles claim that immigration policy is a federal matter. This would be a crime to let every state impose its own immigration law. Being passed in April 2012, the Arizona SB 1070 was dismissed in several months as the inconsistent to the federal law. Nevertheless, the current problems have remained, leading to numerous concerns and discussions. The rights of people and government treatment toward them take the central place in the public debates over the immigration policy. The United States, the country of immigrants, has to choose the way out of such a problematic situation. On the one hand, immigration hides severe hazards, such as economic competition and individual security. That is why, a great variety of laws were passed, targeting to protect the native population from the increased job competition. On the other hand, repatriation of Mexican immigrant during the Great Depression, the removals of Muslim and Arab noncitizens after the attacks on September 11, 2001, detention and removal of undocumented immigrants, racial profiling in border enforcement, massive detentions of noncitizens, and record levels of deportations are severe violation of individuals’ civil rights. (Johnson, 2012, 3).
The nation needs to recognize the fact that race should not influence the citizenship and civil rights of individuals. American population has always been a brilliant example of a melting pot, representing different cultures and nationalities. All the Americans have their ancient roots in Europe or other parts of the globe, but the nation is united by the core idea – Freedom. It is supposed to be a cornerstone of the US major ideals and activities.