Arizona Immigration Law – A Unique Perspective

Yet again another political issue is all over the media.  And as usual the debate is superficial filled with shallow “talking points,” which paint the issue as black and white and the color you choose being your political affiliation.

I find the debate swirling around the details of the law a bit too much.  For example, will “profiling” be a problem and if the papers are checked only if a crime has been committed.  I feel we need to look at the larger picture.

I have a unique perspective on all this that I would like to share but first let’s do a quick overview of the logic employed by both parties.

1. Republican

The problem is with the “illegal” immigrants.  This means they entered the country illegally and if we are not upholding our own laws then why have laws at all?  People who enter the country legally are welcome but if you do not have your visas in order then you should be deported.

– This makes complete sense but again, I prefer to look at the larger picture.

2. Democrat

The Democrats are more “humanitarian” in that these are real people and we should work with them not just knee-jerk deport them if there is an issue with the visa.

–  It is good to be humanitarian and these people are human beings just trying to make a living.  However, if we cannot enforce our own laws then why have them at all?

Let’s being with the meaning of a “law.”  A law is a random rule or proclamation written by the governing authority in order to bring order/stability etcetera to the land being governed.  These “laws” have no inherent authority on their own as they are just ideas set down on paper and then enforced by the government to get people to act/behave in a certain way.  In the past, some rulers claimed that the “law” came from God which would give it a more superior authority than just the current ruling body.  In the USA, we often say it is “the law of the land,” which implies that the land (dirt, earth) made up the law and it is as old as the dirt itself.

However, laws are neither from God nor the land but are simply rules made up by human beings.  (The law of God is a whole other subject, let’s skip that for now as the only law I can think of regarding immigration is “love thy neighbor as thy self” which would mean Arizona is about to get struck by lightning.)

In order to empower any laws there must be people to follow them and the conditions below must be true:

1. These people must live on land since we are not all swimming in the ocean.
2. The land must have been taken at some point and proclaimed “this is our land, and the law applies to this patch of earth.”
3.  It has been a long time since we took it from the animals so the land must have been taken from another group of people.

So, there is land, it was taken and proclaimed as belonging to a certain group of people that are bound under these ideas we call laws.  BUT, the “law” remains an abstraction that could be dissolved should any of the above conditions change.  Just following the law because it is the law is for men without superior faculties!

If we look at history, the Mexicans used to own a part of the land we now call America.  During this time the Americans came up with the Monroe Doctrine which basically said “Hey Europe, this is our land, leave us alone because we have a law that says you should.”  Then we had the Mexican-American War in which the Americans took land from Mexico.  So basically America was telling Europe to quit trying to take any of its lands but at the same time was taking it from Mexico.

Some schools of thought wonder why the USA didn’t go further into Mexico with one of the reasons being they didn’t want to absorb too many people of Indian decent so stopped their progress.  I don’t know if this is true or not, it is just an interesting point that I’ll return to later.

Therefore, to sum it up, America made a law regarding other powers from taking any lands but did the same thing to other nations.  Aren’t “laws” interesting!!!

Fast forward to today and the Mexican view is that “we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!”  So, to the Mexican mind they are simply returning to their former lands regardless of any wars being won or lost or any arbitrary laws that say they shouldn’t.  Heck, if we look at a lot of the names in the Southwestern states they are in Spanish and New Mexico is well… um, Mexico only NEW!!!

The Mexicans did lose the war but that did not mean they couldn’t come to America.  Passports were generally introduced during WW1 in Europe for security reasons (to keep out spies).  Imagine, before WW1 we could go wherever we wanted!!  So even though the land was won by the USA in war from Mexico and some laws were created people could still pretty much travel freely!  Travel freely many people did and there was mass immigration from Europe to the USA.

If we look at history, it seems various groups of people didn’t like the immigrants back then either.  English, Italian, Poles, and so on each came in droves and the racial slur “WOP” means (without pass) because these people were coming to America and were the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS of todays population!!

As time went by America prided itself on being an accepting country and even wrote on the Statue of Liberty the following:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

– Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

Well, apparently this doesn’t apply anymore or we wouldn’t be making such a fuss over immigration.  If we look at the big picture the people getting in a huff over illegal immigration are descendants of illegal immigrants themselves.  How’s that for irony!?  In the news today it was also reported in the article Congressman would support deporting US born children of Illegal Immigrants, that he would do just that.  Well, then that begs the question, how many generations of children does that apply to because if it goes back far enough you might be deporting YOURSELF YOU DUFUS!!

Further, people born in America were simply very privileged to be simply born here and now want to keep others out.  This doesn’t seem very reasonable to me since:

a.) They were just lucky to be born here, have no inherent right to keep out others.
b.) Their country used to pride itself on welcoming immigrants.

America really used the moral high ground of welcoming immigrants and being “free” in the past, especially when fighting the cold war.  There is a scene in “The Hunt for Red October,” in which a former citizen of the Soviet Union is allowed to venture forth in his new life in the USA and this dialogue took place:

Borodin: Do you think they will let me live in Montana?
Capt. Ramius: I would think they’ll let you live wherever you want.
Borodin: Good.  Then I will live in Montana. And I will marry a round American woman, and raise rabbits, and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pick-up truck, or umm… possibly even…a recreational vehicle, and drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?
Capt. Ramius: Oh yes.
Borodin: No papers?
Capt. Ramius: No papers. State-to-state.

Well, apparently papers are now needed in the state of Arizona so kiss the moral high ground bye-bye.

But HOLD ON let’s switch gears here as I recently heard a very interesting point in that Mexico would most likely close their borders if we sent all the Americans on welfare down to Mexico.  I’m sure this is true but there is a better example.  The Mexicans really give the Guatemalans a hard time and did close their border!

But instead of playing tit-for-tat and who does what worse it would be better to take the high ground and not even use that example.  Instead let us get to the real issue which is SHOCKING!

There are really no debates about illegal Canadians, English, or other white people.  This is about people of a different color who speak a different language and the white majority doesn’t like it.  Personally, I like it because I speak Spanish and love Mexican culture but this isn’t about me.  I’m simply calling a spade a spade.

This issue is not about laws, profiling, illegal and so on, it is about race and us vs. them mentality.  Remember my point above about America not advancing too far into Mexico because they didn’t want to absorb the Indian people?  Well, the Indians (er Mexicans) are advancing into the USA and it seems not much has changed in peoples attitudes in the last 200 years.

BUT HOLD ON the anti-illegal-immigration advocate would say, “There are many people of different colors in the USA and we have no problems if they have their visa in order.”  This makes sense and I understand their point and they are correct.  However, thinking about this on a high level, laws can be changed if we want them to and America makes certain accommodations for certain folks.  This is just a tidal-wave of “different” people coming in and frankly I think it scares a lot of people.  Again, there is nothing wrong with this, change can be frightening.  I still think if we step back it is about race and the people being a little “too different.”  I think they are afraid of too many of them coming in.  If we go to a personal level most Americans stick to their own groups and only let others in if they are a direct reflection of themselves.  There is a great quote from “Lazarillo de Tormes” in which he says “How many people there must be in the world who run away from others when they don’t see themselves.”

Regarding them taking “American jobs,” what ever happened to the Republican mantra “Doing jobs Americans do not want to do?”  A free wheeling capitalist would welcome all this cheap labor!!  So I’m confused about the political parties,, how can the Tea-party be pro capitalism yet refuse cheap labor??

These “illegal immigrants” are just human beings that are trying to better their lot in life and to use an Australian saying “good on ya mate,” I wish them the best.

The current hub-hub bruhaha of all this is that the white population is a bit frightened and therefore use “the law” which was made by their own politicians to ease any fear of having to deal with these people.

Time goes on, things change if we really followed great religious leaders then we really would “love thy neighbor” and not try to keep them from enjoying the benefits that we Americans were born into.  You want to ease any anxiety, learn Spanish, get smarter, obtain a better job and start loving people.  I’m sure you will be much happier if you did.

As for me, I’m going to go drink a Corona and find a pretty Latina to teach this white boy how to SALSA!!!


A modified version of this post was read on live radio, Youth Beat Radio, WCRS, Community Radio for Columbus.  Click below to listen:

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! (^.^)/


  1. Hey Matt!

    As I told you earlier, I like your perspective about the immigration problem. Coincidentally, I have been asked to write a two-page article about the same issue from an economic perspective. The idea is to tape it and broadcast it at a local radio station in Columbus, Ohio (102.1 and 98.3 FM) to contribute with the debate on this issue. Attached is the website for the radio station:

    I thought it would also be a great idea to tape and broadcast your article for the same radio program. So they asked me to contact you and ask if you would not mind to summarize (two pages) the main points in your article and give your permission to tape it and broadcast it.

    Please, let me know. Thanks.


  2. Hi Mariano,

    Permission granted!! Please use it as you would like. As for a summary, I’ll be happy to write one out but will have to wait until tomorrow morning. (I always think much better in the morning!)

    Also, congratulations on being asked to contribute to the radio program! I think it is very important for people to hear from perspectives other than their own.

    Thanks for the opportunity and I’ll get the summary ready tomorrow.

  3. Isn’t this law basically a copy of existing federal law? Obviously the people of Arizona are alarmed at the rate of illegal immigrants that are spilling over their border with Mexico into the state. So what are they to do? Just sit back while the whole state implodes? It is clear the feds have no intention of honoring their duty to secure the border. So Arizona has to take these measures. It is a sad situation all around.

  4. @ Christian – Thank you! Will try to keep it interesting!

    @ Carolyn
    – Yes, it is a copy of the existing Federal Law. In fact, the federal one might be more severe. But my point about that is under Clinton and George W we looked the other way because our economy was booming and businesses need the labor. Now that times are tough we are deciding to enforce that law. The Mexicans came because there were jobs here and word got around. Seems kind of rude to want to kick everyone out now.

    – They could have tried the immigration system but frankly (and maybe you’ll appreciate this) government is slow and cumbersome. The Gov didn’t get a work visa program set up in time and to use a metaphor, water will flow along the easiest path.

    – You have a point about “imploding” and perhaps a big drain on financial resources. The USA and business dug this hole but deporting everyone isn’t really a nice solution.

    – You’re also correct it’s a sad situation all around. If blame is to be laid I would say it’s both with the GOP and Dems for not addressing this issue sooner. I’m sure the economy will recover and we’ll need the labor again but it would behoove the Govt to get a guest worker program in place. This would have been easier to do under George W when times were good,, now we’re in a mess.

  5. Kendra,

    I am glad to hear that you also have some feelings about this issue. It does not make your blood boil all the abuse and discrimination against immigrants who are the most vulnerable part in this tragedy? I am just trying to understand your comment. You may want to read “The Labor Market and The Tragedy of Illegal Immigration” also in this blog. It may help you clarify your feelings…

    Polititians do not act alone. Citizens elect them or fail to stop them from doing stupid things. Remember that Hitler was elected twice but everybody in Germany claimed innocence.

    On the other hand, incentives matter! Politicians and voters act according to incentives. Maybe boycotting Arixona is not the right incentive to stop discrimination. Do you have a better one in mind?

    Until a better solution to the problem of race discrimination in Arizona is found, I shall say: Boycott Arizona!!!

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