Abraham H. Foxman

Abraham H. Foxman

Posted: May 2, 2010 03:17 PM

Arizona Law Endangers America's Immigrant Heritage

One of the oldest debates in America has been on the issue of what the nation's immigration policy should be. Should it be fair and compassionate? Should it be restrictive?

In the past, as now, nativism, bigotry and fear of competition from foreign workers dulled the collective American memory of its own immigrant history and democratic ideals. Then, as now, the drums of anti-foreigner slogans are beat in an effort to make the case for a restrictive immigration policy.

In his book, A Nation of Immigrants, President John F. Kennedy wrote of immigration, "This was the secret of America: a nation of people with the fresh memory of old traditions who dared to explore new frontiers, people eager to build lives for themselves in a spacious society that did not restrict their freedom of choice and action."

In his last presidential address to the nation on January 11, 1989, President Ronald Reagan spoke about his vision of America as a "shining city upon a hill... teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace." If there had to be city walls, in his vision "the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get there."

Today, unfortunately, Kennedy's "spacious society" is being closed in and darkness is enveloping Reagan's "shining city." There is no harmony and peace -- especially in Arizona. Instead, there is hate, fear, and xenophobia.

Much has been said about Arizona's new law, which requires the police to demand proof of legal residency from residents who arouse suspicion. The police do not need probable cause to suspect a crime has been committed -- anyone who "looks foreign" can be stopped. The law virtually invites the police to harass and intimidate Hispanics and other minorities. Obviously, it discourages minority victims of and witnesses to hate crimes from coming forward and helping local law enforcement solve those crimes. It gives untrained state and local police officers the responsibility for enforcing immigration law even though such responsibilities interfere with their responsibility to keep the peace. The law even encourages people to sue the police if they believe immigration laws are not being enforced.

Of course, the Arizona law was not enacted in a vacuum. The immigration debate has become a flashpoint for racists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other extremists who blame immigrants for all of our nation's problems. It is a very short distance from that sort of rhetoric to vigilantism. When mainstream figures start expressing the same bigotry, filling the airwaves and the Internet with hateful and incendiary talk, an atmosphere is created for incivility and pernicious legislation is not far behind.

The Arizona law is probably unconstitutional, and will be challenged in the courts. But all of us have a responsibility to look in the mirror and say -- how could such a mean-spirited measure become law in this country? Do we really want our nation to resemble societies where anyone can be stopped on the streets at any time, at the slightest whim, and be asked for identification papers?

The Arizona approach to addressing the current immigration crisis is the wrong approach. It happened at a time when our nation is deeply divided along partisan lines. The time has come for Congress to demonstrate bipartisan leadership, condemn xenophobia, and enact comprehensive immigration reform that has an appropriate balance of fairness, compassion, and security.

Abraham H. Foxman is National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. He and his parents immigrated to the United States in 1950.

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mountainweb   1 hour ago (8:22 AM)
Sorry but total stupidity to be saying this is a race issue. No county can open up its borders and declare that everyone can flood in. These are ILLEGAL aliens not legal immigrants. Time for the shallow minded "progressives" to stop framing every issue on their plate by screaming "race". The real bigotry is demonstrated by articles like this one..
logo   17 minutes ago (9:07 AM)
great response
bayside   2 hours ago (7:13 AM)
Its also called ethic cleanings...Funny isnt that what sadamn got hanged for, and hitler was condemn all over the world because of ethic cleansing..Evil cannot exist unless good men do nothing. Ask those 10,000 german who stood up to those 200 nazis. They said no more........They know if their ancestors had stood up to hitler he could not have did what he did and they are not going to let it happen again..
MARTYB   4 hours ago (5:50 AM)
We tried in California in the 1990's to pass laws to stop the flow of illegal aliens and they were shot down by the courts even though the "people" voted for these laws with good reason. Well 20 years later
Southern California is "3rd worldish" and steadily declining, if the rest of the US wants to know what happens when you allow illegal aliens to take over your country you need look no further than LA or SD you wouldn't even know your still in the USA in ever larger portions of these cities. And for these illegal aliens to march through our streets DEMANDING rights in our country waving a foreign flag is infuriating.


mountainweb   60 minutes ago (8:24 AM)
Its a real problem when you have the brain dead who only see illegal aliens as "votes" for their political party....
Edwin Boyette   4 hours ago (5:33 AM)
Mr. Foxman we know that historically the United States has been overwhelmingly a nation of European Americans. Judging by the protests with the strong emphasis on hispanic culture and language I am genuinely concerned that there is at best apathy to maintaining American European immigrant-culture.

I don't want to speak for anyone but African-Americans may have the same fears or concerns. Now obviously we displaced a people to make this Nation, but as the current citizens it would seem logical that we can have some say over the continuance of our culture and custom as we go forward, and that decision not be dictated by the immigrants but by the current Citizens.
royofan   8 hours ago (1:01 AM)
Wow, what a horribly inaccurate article.And not a single source or statistic to be found.

" Do we really want our nation to resemble societies where anyone can be stopped on the streets at any time, at the slightest whim, and be asked for identification papers?"

No, we shouldn't want that, so it's a good thing that SB 1070 neither advocates that or makes it legal.

Ahh....National Director of the Anti-Defamation League...now i see why the article is the way it is.
tgwoe   8 hours ago (1:11 AM)
Agreed, the anti-defamation league benefits from illegal immigration economically, hence the hand wringing and moaning.... and hyperventilation....


mountainweb   58 minutes ago (8:26 AM)
they are a bunch of bigots! scream "race" at every issue because they are not intelligent enough to discuss the real issues, also note the anti-American mind set they preach.
valboski   10 hours ago (11:51 PM)
The laws are not just for citizens of this country. I believe diplomats should not be exempt from our laws just as politicians should not be exempt and that goes for people here illegally.
lauraj400   10 hours ago (11:50 PM)
So what do you suggest.open the borders?
tgwoe   8 hours ago (12:56 AM)
Open boarder and illegal alien enablers, including the church, have no problem with it. They are part of the underground economy, a kind of slave trade of poor workers, drug traffickers, smugglers, scab labor that profits them in obvious ways. it is sad and criminal behavior.
bayside   2 hours ago (7:48 AM)
Arizona is the lowest in spending for education..If over a billion dollars are being taken out of your taxes and it doesnt benefit your neighborhood ,has it ever occurred to you the people who run your state, the republicans might be the reason for this. Illegels only left home to try to provide food and shelter for their families..They were fine until NAFTA made growing corn not profitable, so to stop starvation they went looking for work..Now they work 14 hour days ,dont see their families, plus our cons dems and cons have shipped our jobs overseas so now we dont have means to support our families...I expect we are all being played. by our govt.making the rich richer
uhappytoo   10 hours ago (11:11 PM)
There is nothing in the Arizona law that requires anyone to show ID of any kind. The media have jumped on this story and are deliberately fanning the flames with one misrepresentation after another. To say that it "encourages" racial profiling is to say that federal laws that require enforcement of our immigration laws also "Encourage" racial profiling. But the media are completely silent on that fact. Why?
tgwoe   9 hours ago (12:52 AM)
It already is the law, the federal law. ALL aliens in the US MUST carry id at all times. But since 1940, it has been a federal crime for aliens to fail to keep such registration documents with them.
bdaved   5 hours ago (4:26 AM)
From SB1070, Section 2: "A person is presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States if the person provides to the law enforcement officer or agency any of the following:
1. A valid Arizona driver license.
2. A valid Arizona nonoperating identification license.
3. A valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification.
4. If the entity requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance, any valid United States federal, state or local government issued identification."
tunes59   12 hours ago (9:17 PM)
Let's make sure we all understand this right.

If you cross the North Korean border illegally you get 12 years hard labor.
If you cross the Iranian border illegally you are detained indefinitely.
If you cross the Afghan border illegally, you get shot.
If you cross the Saudi Arabian border illegally you will be jailed.
If you cross the Chinese border illegally you may never be heard from again.
If you cross the Venezuelan border illegally you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.
If you enter Cuban territory illegally you will be thrown into political prison to rot.
If you cross the U.S. border illegally you get
1 - A job,
2 - A driver’s license,
3 - Social security card,
4 - Welfare payments,
5 - Food stamps,
6 - Credit cards,
7 - Subsidized rent or a loan to buy a house,
8 - Free education,
9 - Free health care,
10 - Lobbyist representation in Washington
11 - Billions of dollars’ worth of public documents printed in "your" language
12 - The right to carry your country's flag while you protest that you don't get enough respect.

I just wanted to make sure we have a firm grasp on this situation... ....
dim   10 hours ago (11:02 PM)
And that's some of the reasons why the US is such a great country.

Comparing it to N. Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, S. Arabia, etc. should be punishable by ridicule. Oh, wait ... it is.
tgwoe   9 hours ago (12:44 AM)
You call that sentence "ridicule"? no wonder illegal aliens love to sneak into your basement and live....
Xarnego   9 hours ago (12:15 AM)
Total BS post BTW...
NotImpressed   9 hours ago (12:40 AM)
What a totally bogus comparison. If you are caught entering or being in the US illegally you are subject to detention and deportation. If you cross into ANY country illegally and manage to live there without being caught, nothing happens. You are treated (more or less) like another resident of that country.

Our country has many serious problems. Blaming the people who do the most undesirable work for the lowest pay will not solve any of those problems.


mabinog   7 hours ago (2:07 AM)
This list came in one of those anonymous emails that has been passed through the email accounts of at lest tens of drooling teabaggers didn't it?

Cmon be honest......
wirelessmom   3 hours ago (6:35 AM)
Thank heaven someone finally recognizes how ridiculous the US has become. There is no other country that allows people to sneak across their borders, get a job, find a place to live, send their kids to public school, and get free medical care. And on top of it, illegals have the nerve to march in our streets and demand more privileges!
lssbigdog   13 hours ago (8:54 PM)
you will pay 38 billion dollars in welfare benefits for Illegals,????? Does this mean that 11 million american citizens will get back their identities that the illegal immigrants steal on a yearly basis???Does this mean that our health care costs will not contiully go thru the roof because we pay for pregnant illegal immigrants, their children, education, food stamps, housing?????? Their are so many other costs to american citizens , Were fed up with all of it. Please no more lectures. I live in a santuary state, I've seen the ramifications of no enforcement of our laws and how they are totally disregarded.


inthedesert   15 hours ago (6:41 PM)
NotImpressed   9 hours ago (12:44 AM)
I guess fear mongering is only permissible when the fear is targeted at immigrants.
tgwoe   8 hours ago (1:09 AM)
people who break laws are suppose to have fear. it is called deterrence, it is permissible in all cases of crime... even illegal immigration. grow up...
rad21   15 hours ago (6:10 PM)
Because something looks good on paper or in a speech, the impractical is unlikely to succeed. Soviets (with shoot to kill orders) found that their own Wall and Laws did not succeed. Why are we trying to re-invent something that others have tried and failed? Will the Wall or legislation succeed just because we are Americans?

Human Migration is a natural phenomenon that has occurred for millenniums. Man-made measures will not stop or mitigate natural forces. Man-made measures are best directed to COPE WITH natural forces.

Arizonians (and Americans elsewhere) including native Americans who are suggesting solutions to stop this natural phenomena should examine the reasons why their ancestors came to this country.

Those with European ancestry should read about the "Little Ice Age" across Europe that forced many of their ancestors to pack and flee to Americas with no paper-work. We should know our history, albeit a short one.

Fault of the current problem is the inept Federal govt which under Republican and Democratic Presidents is hamstrung by elected representatives like the two Arizona senators. Arizonians are to be blamed for electing two selfish, short-sighted senators, more interested in re-election than providing some leadership. Sadly the same applies to us who elect similar representatives.

Boycott will peacefully hurt big business. And they will put effective pressure on our ineffective politicians. Those against illegals (includes me) should support boycott to pressurize Washington for a solution and an end to band-aids.
Mike M   6 hours ago (3:12 AM)
"Human Migration is a natural phenomenon"
Whoa there. Are you saying Illegals are "Human"? That would have to mean They're endowed with stuff like "unalienable rights" and then Americans would have to applaud them for Their pursuit of happiness! Not only that: if They were "Human" then compassion would come into play, and We can't have that; compassion is not allowed in times of tea pee.
ChuckRogers   16 hours ago (5:39 PM)
these poor people have enough problems... we should just let them in..... but we should stop forcing over 1.2 million (yearly) immigrants (no other nation on earth admits as many) to go through the bureacratic nightmare that is "legal" immigration... think of all the wasted time studying our constitution and laws and learning at least the basics of our language, our monetary system, and our history.......and how despicable is it to force people to memorize our oath of allegiance ?.......
rad21   15 hours ago (6:16 PM)
To precisely end the exploitation of undocumented workers, we need to grant them amnesty. Thus they and their employers can contribute their full to the American economy and both can pay taxes. Given proximity of Mexico to USA, odds are many may want only a work permit for 5-10 years. Thus they may not be a burden to SS and Medicare, but help solve it, as many experts have written.

The most ineffective of Arizona's politicians are their two US senators. With Republican leadership, they should be leading a dialog on comprehensive immigration reform. But they blocked it under Presidents Bush and now Obama. So those against illegals (includes me) should support the boycott; as only economics (and campaign contributions) pressurize Washington, DC.
kapsig1295   16 hours ago (5:25 PM)
I am very happy someone else has pointed out our immigrant history. Considering very few remain that can truly claim that they are native to the United States. I do not support illegal immigration either, but I see the flood of illegal immigrants coming across our borders not as a disease to cure directly, rather an underlying symptom of a much larger problem.

People go where jobs are. During the depression people moved in droves to cities looking for work when there was none at home. I do not think there is a parent out there who would not cut off his arm to prevent his child from starving if they had to. We would be better off reforming existing immigration policy to catch up to the globalized 21st century, work with the Mexican government to stabilize their issues since it is directly effecting our national security, and go after the companies and labor who employ illegal immigrants where it matters, the pocket book. Current penalties for conviction are laughable for most major companies.
dtairtime   16 hours ago (5:19 PM)
We are the most welcoming country on earth and in history to immigrants. We allow more legal immigration then all other countries combined. We are still allowing this record number when there are about 30 million citizens and legal immigrants either unemployed or underemployed. We have something like 37 million foreign born people here right now - NOT counting illegals which could be anywhere from 12-20+ million. That 37 million is larger then most countries entire population and far more of an increase then our fragile environment can handle. We are already showing signs of severe drought. Without any amnesty we will hit 450 million by about 2050 (census figures) and most people estimate we will hit 600 million in this century.

So just how many people does the author think we should allow in?? If we grant the illegals any form of amnesty we will instantly grow by about 12-20 million - or more. In a few years those millions will bring in all their extended families for a impact of at least 50 million people. Almost all of our population growth is due to immigration and their high birth rates.