“Illegal immigrants chose to come here against our laws and proceeded to choose which laws they would follow and which they would ignore, demanding rights to which they are not entitled.”
This was taken from a recent letter to the editor in the Arizona Republic. The woman, Alice Wilson, goes on to say, “Legal citizens are not allowed such luxury. If all of us chose the laws we liked and ignored those we didn’t, we would have anarchy.”
While that’s a good attempt at a logical reason for why we should obey any and all laws, it’s too general of a statement and doesn’t hold up under examination.
I decided to respond to the writer with my own letter to the editor, but it wasn’t printed. So instead I’ll share it, and better yet, expand upon it here.
First of all, undocumented immigrants are not the only ones who pick and choose which laws they will obey. So do American citizens. We pick and choose each day if we’ll obey the speed limit or come to a complete stop at the stop sign. We pick and choose each year if we’ll follow all of the tax laws or try to get around some of them.
It’s true that speeding and other traffic violations are generally classified as misdemeanors but so is crossing into this country without legal documentation or overstaying a visa.
The writer goes on to say, “I have nothing against immigrants but would like a level playing field. I want all of us in this country to adhere to the same laws.”
To that, I agree. I would like to live in a country where the rich aren’t allowed greater access to justice because they can afford a better attorney or a higher likelihood of overcoming a long-term illness because they can afford better or more comprehensive medical care. Nor should they be allowed additional tax breaks because they can afford a better CPA and more powerful attorneys to lobby Congress on their behalf.
This is, in essence, the argument of the Occupy Wall Street protestors, those angry that the one percent seems to be on a much different playing field than the rest of the country. I’m not sure if Ms. Wilson is part of the Occupy Movement, but it seems they agree on this point.
Ms. Wilson ends her letter by saying, “I object to some being allowed to flout our laws and then demand more concessions from legal, taxpaying citizens.”
I enthusiastically agree! I am greatly disturbed that I, as a taxpayer in Maricopa County, have had to pay for Sheriff Arpaio’s millions upon millions of dollars ($50 million and counting) in lawsuits, including lawsuits that allege a disregard for the U.S. Constitution. Nor do I believe I should have to pay for the millions of dollars that will be racked up by his office because he refuses to cooperate with the federal government, a government duly elected by the American people.
Whether we’re speaking about American citizens or undocumented immigrants, we all pick and choose which laws we will obey. What differs, though, is the intent behind it. If the intent is to cause harm, then the punishment should fit the crime. For the vast majority of undocumented immigrants, the intent is not evil but rather one of desperation in search of a better life. I’m not sure I can say the same thing about Sheriff Arpaio’s attempts to skirt the law and silence his detractors.
No, undocumented immigrants should not be allowed a “free ride,” nor should they be punished or spoken of as if they are rapists or murderers. To categorize the undocumented in this manner or exult an elected official for his crimes is to disregard the very tenants of justice this country was founded on.
Azcvoices.com is a network of community bloggers created by The Arizona Republic, azcentral.com and 12 News to highlight diverse viewpoints. Members' opinions do not represent the views of Republic Media.
Bio: The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head.
The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles.
As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story.
When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent.
And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.