If the intent of the Arizona legislature was to get hundreds of thousands of people arrested for immigration violations, then their SB1070 bill for immigration enforcement may never quite deliver. If the intent was to encourage illegal immigrants to leave Arizona, they may claim success even before the first law-enforcement records check takes place. Reuters reports that many “undocumented workers” are preparing to leave:
Nicaraguan mother Lorena Aguilar hawks a television set and a few clothes on the baking sidewalk outside her west Phoenix apartment block.
A few paces up the street, her undocumented Mexican neighbor WendiVillasenor touts a kitchen table, some chairs and a few dishes as her family scrambles to get out of Arizona ahead of a looming crackdown on illegal immigrants.
“Everyone is selling up the little they have and leaving,” said Villasenor, 31, who is headed for Pennsylvania. “We have no alternative. They have us cornered.”
The two women are among scores of illegal immigrant families across Phoenix hauling the contents of their homes into the yard this weekend as they rush to sell up and get out before the state law takes effect on Thursday.
There are a couple of lessons to be drawn from this. First, it doesn’t take much to see some self-enforcement on immigration law. In this case, it doesn’t even require a single act of actual enforcement. All that is needed is government taking its law-enforcement responsibilities seriously, a lesson that we learned in another context when Rudy Giuliani became mayor of New York City.
Next, it reveals the disingenuous response from Washington DC. The federal government keeps saying that it lacks the resources to enforce the laws it has, but quite obviously, Arizona has much fewer resources than the Obama administration, and all they had to do was pass a law and make it stick. If the federal government took its job seriously rather than look to pander to Hispanic voters with its deliberate incompetence on immigration enforcement, the issue would mostly resolve itself with little effort — and the resources remaining would be more than sufficient to deal with those left.
Many of those packing in Arizona are heading back across the border, but some intend to move elsewhere in the US. Expect more states to start getting tough on immigration enforcement as Arizona’s success becomes more apparent.