I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV.
But to understand the mess in Arizona over their new immigration law? You might need a law degree.
I’m not even a seasoned tourist when it comes to the west. I’ve visited southern California twice when my sister lived there. And I’ve been to New Mexico twice with my husband. But something I saw on one of those visits made quite the impression.
We landed in El Paso, TX. My husband had lived in southern New Mexico for a few years. We were visiting his old stomping grounds.
I looked out the window and saw little box structures, about double the size of a refrigerator box, dotting the landscape. Then I noticed two women and one man running toward the Interstate, having just crawled under a fence. One of the women stumbled. When she stood up I saw that she was visibly pregnant. Make that, hugely pregnant. She was having trouble gaining her footing.
“Stop!” I shouted to my husband, “That woman needs help!”
My husband kept driving. “Yeah. She’s probably in labor,” he said, nonchalantly. “They wait there on the other side of the fence until they go into labor. Then they cross here and have their baby in the United States so the kid can be a US citizen.”
“You mean, that’s Mexico?” I had no idea we were that close to the US/Mexico border. (Geography, apparently, is not my strong suit.)
The two sides of the fence couldn’t be more different. One side was developed, with cars and trucks whizzing by. Manicured lawns. Commerce-a-plenty. The other side? Open fields. Overgrown grass. Shacks-a-plenty.
When I saw all those inadequate dwellings, when I saw signs like these:
I was stunned into silence. I saw, up close and personal, that we have quite a problem on our hands. And this was 15 years ago.
Arizona is living the consequences of inadequate immigration control. Their tax dollars are stretched to the max funding health care, education and putting band aids on the strained justice system. The Federation for American Immigration predicts that illegal immigrants cost the American taxpayer approximately $113 billion in one year.
In one year.
I love it that Elton John shamed other musicians who are boycotting Arizona because of their hard stance on immigration. I agree with Sir Elton (but not necessarily his word choice). Some boycotts are noble. Some boycotts should stand. But musicians “forcing” Arizona to re-think their stance on illegal immigration?
Let’s walk a mile in Arizona’s shoes first before we judge. Better yet, let’s sit in the closest emergency room to the US/Mexico border. Or ride with a police car for a night. Or attend a budget meeting for the local school system.
The problem does not lie with the illegal immigrant. The problem lies in our immigration system.
And Arizona is trying to fix, just that.