As a private citizen, I've hung out with illegal aliens many times. Often, I was violating a law or two myself. I've worked with, and perhaps hired illegal aliens, though I don't think I ever worked for one (but it's possible). I would only call a local cop on an illegal alien in a situation where I would call a local cop on anybody. When I was on guard duty at Camp Pendleton, CA, in '84, we occasionally saw illegals travelling through the base, and we reported them, most of the time. Of course, that was a different time, when I could spend a night walking the streets of Tijuana alone, smoking Mexican Marlboros, without getting killed or kidnapped. It's a different time, now, and I doubt I'll ever vist TJ again.
I'd like to make a comparison between the new Arizona state law, and the federal law that already exists, and my attitude, as a private citizen. The state law basically codifies the federal immigration law for enforcement by state and local authorities, and also codifies restrictions against racial profiling, contrary to what it's opponents claim. They typically use a ridiculous hypothetical situation, such as "a man takes his granddaughter out for an ice cream, and a cop asks him for his papers." I look to my personal experience with illegal aliens, for a closer analogy: cops will only ask about citizenship papers from people they've been either "called" about, or people they directly see violate a law.
There are several points that this law can be reasonably debated about: loopholes, constitutionality, and unintended consequences. The first loophole that comes to mind is that anyone can accuse someone that they know is illegal with any kind of crime, and get them jailed, and deported. What a thing to hold over someone's head! Actually, this is already being done to millions of illegals, with the threat of reporting them to ICE (formerly the INS). Unfortunately, the federal agency rarely responds to individual complaints, opting to produce "mass arrests" at large corporations, for some reason, so it's really an empty threat. What will happen when some "old-timer" in Arizona calls the local cops on "a bunch of illegals, harassing" him in front of the Home Depot? We'll see.
There is also a question of it's constitutionality. There is an overlap in many areas of the justice system, between local, state, and federal law enforcement, and the judicial system. Indeed, they often fight each other for jurisdiction. This looks like a classic case of a state asserting it's power, because of a vacuum of federal power on this issue. Under current federal law, an ICE agent can ask any legal resident alien for their papers at any time, without the restrictions that the state law puts on local officials. Is it constitutional? Can a state make a law regarding immigration status? It seems they have, already, in the widely-accepted laws giving "in-state" tuition to "undocumented" students, at many state universities. There are also states that have cities that feel free to reject federal immigration laws, the so-called "sanctuary cities," with no judicial interference. Is a state allowed to create a "parallel" law to federal immigration law, and enforce it? I'm no constitutional scholar, but I can't wait to see what legal points decide this.
There have already been many unintended consequences, even before the law takes effect. ARIZONA has become a dirty word, to the point where the "Arizona Iced Tea" company had to release a public statement that they're really based in Long Island (as am I). This is what's known as a "media backlash," which will last as long as it can be stretched out. It's following the same route as the demonization of the Tea Party people. By the end of the Summer, it will be apparent that AZ is doing the right thing, and whether the SCOTUS upholds or overturns the law, it will happen after this year's elections, putting the issue squarely into the '12 presidential election debate.
Notice the difference in the protesters from the "Tea Parties," and the "anti-Arizona" protesters. The Tea Party group is protesting against government's intrusive/abusive use of taxing, spending, and bureaucratic power over every citizen's life. This group has been portrayed as a radical fringe, with anything from racist to fascist beliefs, often in the guise of "bitter old white people (mostly men)." The group protesting the Arizona law is protesting against government's potential intrusive/abusive use of police or bureaucratic power against citizens of a certain ethnicity. I use the word "potential" advisedly, because the law is not in effect yet, while the laws that the Tea Party people oppose have been the law of the land for years, and apply to all citizens, plus illegals that try to comply with most of our laws. Anti-Arizona protesters have been portrayed as crusaders for social justice, without regard to the hateful rhetoric and violence at their rallies.
The kicker is that the "anti-Arizona" protesters are calling the law "racist" and "fascist," which are the same terms that are used to describe the Tea Party people. Now, as a Tea Party person, myself, I know that immigration law is not one of the core issues of the Tea Party movement. If anything, this shows that often, the opposition to both of these movements (tea party and anti-illegal immigration) just drag up the same slanderous "talking points" toward their opponents. I hope some of them read this column, and learn a little about giving credit to the substance of opposing views, even when you bash the opposition.
Though "comprehensive immigration reform" is on the "front burner" right now, I doubt it will go anywhere, this year. Arizona's law seems to be a "galvanizing" political event, but it actually is a counter to any federal action, while the pols wait to see how the judiciary sorts this out. Obama is not the only one playing chess, in this situation. Perhaps Arizona's government stepped onto the middle of the board to prevent a really bad move by the forces of "amnesty" from the OA. Meanwhile, the war in Mexico is brewing on our border, and it can't be hidden much longer.