Although civil rights are defined and reserved to Americans by virtue of citizenship, we run a great risk of chaos and unrest as a nation if states have the power to legislate over immigration issues. It is very important the federal government retain authority over this issue. Several issues arise if states legislate and have power over the immigration debate. Xenophobia, division of the country, public distrust of state and local authorities, etc. are among some of the concerns.
In April 2010, Arizona challenged the federal government and passed a controversial law that imposes criminal punishments on undocumented immigrants and those who harbor, transport, or employ them. One provision of this law gives authorization to local law enforcement to stop and ask for proof of citizenship if the authorities have “reasonable suspicion” that an individual may be undocumented or illegal. This has led many civil rights advocates to argue it is racial profiling. This type of legislation jeopardizes public trust within immigrant communities and creates a wedge between the community and enforcement, which could affect a crime investigation, cooperation, etc. Now communities feel a sense of xenophobia against them and will not trust the government.
Arizona’s controversial law resulted in other states approving or considering similar legislation. The states involved, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina are not a surprise as in Round 1 discussion on education were some of the states in mind when diversity and cultural differences (Specifically the north and south) were mentioned. The north and south still have significant political, religious, and ideological differences today. The immigration debate will surely bring about a bigger wedge between regions as the topic continues to heat up.
Federal government must control immigration legislation, but also assist states like Arizona with more federal funding and patrol agents to monitor and control the influx of illegal immigration. The Obama