By Tracy Emblem
Candidate, 50th Congressional District
Recently Arizona enacted its own immigration bill, which potentially usurps the federal government’s authority to regulate immigration.
California Congressman Brian Bilbray, chair of the Immigration Reform Committee and former FAIR lobbyist, offers no real solutions to the immigration debate. In response to Arizona’s new radical immigration bill, Bilbray supported its legality and explained that police could spot illegal immigrants merely by the way they dress. His remarks demonstrate a lack of critical thinking skills necessary for leadership in Congress on complex, human, social and economic issues.
A leader would understand that border policing is costly to taxpayers and does not produce any gross domestic product. The Arizona law requires people to produce a birth certificate or passport or be subject to jail for six months and mandates police to act as immigration officers. It costs an average of $55 a day to house a prisoner, and this average cost does not account for the administrative court costs to render an individual “guilty” or the costs of forcing children into the foster care system — costs which must also be factored into the equation.
It is also questionable that police could differentiate from legal and illegal residents in our diverse society. Consequently, Arizona’s law readily opens the door to civil rights violations because police would have the duty to detain and incarcerate until a person could produce documentation of citizenship. In other words, many innocent people could get swept up in the net until they could prove their innocence.
So according to Bilbray, it’s OK for Arizona to foot this bill while his committee on immigration reform offers no answers of its own.
Our country needs real solutions, not vigilante fascism. We must say no to a police/prison state. Now is the time for Congress to step up to the plate to resolve the major cause of illegal immigration to our country through comprehensive immigration reform. In doing this, Congress must also find a way to ensure that Mexico deals with its economic problems related to poverty, employment, health care, drug corruption and democratic governance, because unless we change our strategy, our immigration dilemma will continue with or without “immigration reform.”
Tracy Emblem is an attorney and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, California’s 50th District.