Freedom is never free.....

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."-Samuel Adams

Political Frivolity (maybe)


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On Security and Liberty

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” 
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

“Papers, please?”

“Papers? What papers?”

“Do as I say. Please”

“Who are you?”

“I am special agent Volt Jackhammer with the joint task force ICECIAFBIATF and the I-hate-all-things un-American book-of-the-month-club. Papers. Now”.

“Can you tell me why I am being stopped and questioned? Please.”

“We have a sniper posted on the roof of the Starbucks with his crosshairs on your forehead. I suggest you comply.”

“Oh, this has to do with the new anti-immigration law passed here in Arizona. The law was intended to be used with probable cause as the basis. What is the probable cause?”

“I need your ID, now. Thank you.” (Talking into his sleeve).

“Just as I suspected. You were observed eating lunch at a Taco Bell, then entering a video game store and purchasing a Microsoft Flight simulator. Your internet traffic shows a visit to “The Philosophy of Islam” website, and a check on emails indicates a steady stream of dialogue between you and a co-conspirator in Baghdad and Mexico City. A response from Mexico was “see you soon”, which is a clear indication of the intent to smuggle human contraband across the border. Where were you born, where are you employed, and just what are your radical intentions?

“I can’t believe this. I was born in Tuscon, and I am a student at Arizona State University. I have a class called “World Religions”, and I enjoy video games.”

“Uh-huh. I find this hard to believe, Mr., uh Muhammed Rodriguez. That is your name, correct?”

“It is. My father is from Mexico City, where he owns an auto parts manufacturing facility. We email back and forth. My brother is in the Marine Corps stationed outside of Baghdad. My mother is Jordanian, but was born and raised in New Jersey. Satisfied?”

“After the information is verified, we will allow you to appear before a tribunal to determine your status. This shouldn’t take more than a year or two. You are not being arrested, only detained.”

“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.” ~Thomas Paine­­

The preceding dialogue is not based on real events, at least not yet. The fictional conversation is what could happen if we wander down that particular road too far. Legal immigrants, by and large are opposed to illegal immigration. Those that have chosen to immigrate via lawful and proper channels are typically offended by those who don’t. Candidate after candidate will beat the drum of anti-immigration every election cycle. They always tend to back off after the votes are counted. At this point in time, the proverbial horse has been out of the barn for a very long time and the solutions are few.

Illegal immigration and offshore production of manufactured products share some common threads. When the lawn care company presents an attractive quotation for landscaping and weed killing and shows up with a half dozen illegal Mexicans, we turn our head and profess ignorance. When we shop at Best Buy, and purchase a 60” high definition TV for a fraction of what it would have cost fifteen years ago, we say that’s OK, what a deal.

We, as American citizens tend toward moral selectivity when sensitive issues collide with out pocket books. It seems quite convenient to ignore the human rights of the Chinese when they stock our stores with dirt cheap products, but quite another issue when the state of Arizona can use “just cause” to verify an individual’s status. “Just cause” can be broadly defined and be as flexible as one may desire at any given time. The illegal immigration problem has grown to out-of-control proportions. Crime, health care, employment, and a plethora of areas are clearly impacted with regard to illegal border crossings. Immigration is a Federal issue that has not been adequately dealt with. Perhaps the state of Arizona had no choice but to pass legislation to stem the flow of undocumented nationals, but once this type of legislation is enacted, the slope gets a little bit slippery. How high is the bar? When does this become abuse?

My illustration may be extreme, but should not be discounted and discarded as the rantings of a paranoid madman. The population of Arizona is comprised of 35% Hispanic/American Indian. This does not include migrants from Mexico and Central America that sneak across the border. Will agents of the State of Arizona be able to differentiate American citizens and legal immigrants of Hispanic lineage to those who have entered the country through other means? What constitutes “just cause”? Does this law render federal border agents less or more effective?

Police agencies all over the nation set up DUI checkpoints on a frequent basis. Statistically, the arrest rate is around 0.5% or less. So they inconvenience a thousand cars to make a ridiculously low number of arrests. Is this what will happen is Arizona and other states who implement similar laws? Why should any state be forced to assume Federal jurisdiction? Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and there respective administrations looked the other way when it came to illegal immigration while making it nearly impossible to achieve legal status.

Police officers all over the nation see a carload of teenage boys driving around at 11:00PM and “just cause” is firmly established at that moment. It happens every day.  “Yeah, but what business does a carload of teenage boys out at 11:00PM have anyway?” It is not the business of the police or anybody else so long as these teenagers are behaving inside of the law. My fear is this same scenario will befall law abiding American citizens and legal immigrants in Arizona. “Probable cause” can be defined very loosely. Once it starts, it will be tough to stop, just like the flow of illegal aliens. Why does the next generation have to clean up the mess of the previous one? Cheap labor has it's price.

By the way, last time I checked we have a few hundred thousand soldiers fighting a couple of pointless wars on the other side of the world. Wouldn't they would be more useful plugging the holes in our own borders? That makes too much sense, though. Another topic for another day.

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