Gary is an author, trial lawyer, Mequon-area resident and town of Cedarburg supervisor. He is a columnist for the News Graphic and writes for several Wisconsin area magazines and is a national columnist with The American Thinker and PJ Media. He lives with his wife, Lisa, and has three sons ages 18 to 28. Gary won Ozaukee County in his bid for the Wisconsin Assembly's 60th District in 2011, but came up just 58 votes short.
The heated debate over Arizona’s Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, which requires police officers who, in the course of a lawful law enforcement action, come to a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an illegal alien, to ask for a driver’s license to verify that the person is in this country legally, has rapidly spread across the country. Here in Wisconsin – far from the front lines of illegal immigration in Arizona – we have done our part to exacerbate a growing illegal immigration problem which is no longer limited to our nation’s borders.
The argument against enforcing of our existing federal immigration laws is both emotional and impractical. The simple fact is America cannot afford to house, clothe, and shelter the world. Neither can Wisconsin. There are more than 20 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. today. About 60% of them are unlawful border crossers, while 40% are “documented aliens” who have overstayed their Visas. This illegal invasion of our country has contributed to overcrowding of underfunded schools, massively increased health care costs, crime, unemployment, lowered wages, higher taxes, and the loss of a common language and culture.
In 1994, Californians forsaw what the problem has now done to their state and passed Proposition 187, which denied illegal immigrants non-emergency public services. The will of the people was thwarted by legal challenges and a Democrat governor who killed the measure. Today, California's illegal immigrant population is costing the taxpayers of California more than $10.5 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Arizona does not want to become like California.
We keep hearing people who claim that the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law (SB 1070) is “unconstitutional.” Well, the Arizona law is ever bit as “constitutional” as the federal law – considering it basically IS the federal law with even more limitations added to it. Our own U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, has promised legal challenges to the Arizona law he admits he has never even read. Most of those opposed to the sensible measure mistakenly believe it allows police to stop people randomly and ask for their “papers.” This is nonsense, but emotion trumps facts. Arizona's SB 1070 reads in part as follows:
“For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official…where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an [illegal alien], a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to [verify with the federal government] the immigration status of the person.”
In order to stop and detain somebody legally ("lawful contact"), there must be reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed. The 4th Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and its protections extend to brief investigatory stops of persons or vehicle falling short of arrest. Only when there is reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed can a stop be "lawful." Stopping somebody for merely “looking like an illegal” would not be lawful and any subsequent arrest or deportation efforts would be nullified. Only after the police ask for a valid Arizona driver’s license does the rest of the bill come into play:
“A law enforcement officer, without warrant, may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.”
After the officer has acted on reasonable suspicion and detained somebody, and after he has legally asked for identification and has received none, he has probable cause that the person is here illegally and may arrest that person. Even the liberal New York Times agrees with me here, when it wrote last month: "[The new bill] requires police officers who, in the course of a traffic stop or other law-enforcement action, come to a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an illegal alien verify the person’s immigration status with the federal government." For example, a police officer stops a minivan with a dozen passengers for speeding in a known illegal-smuggling corridor (“lawful contact”). None has identification. The driver is acting evasively or the vehicle has expired registration (“reasonable suspicion”). When the driver and occupants cannot produce a valid Arizona driver’s license, the officer has probable cause to arrest them for being illegal. And to pacify emotional racial profiling zealots, Section 2 of the law specifically provides that a law enforcement official "may not solely consider race, color or national origin" in making any stops or determining immigration status. Everyone should be happy, except for those here illegally and those who truly don’t want to tackle the tough problem of illegal immigration.
The law is simple, constitutional, and couldn’t be needed more desperately. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has already held in its 2005 decision styled Muehler v. Mena, 544 U.S. 93 (2005), that police officers who handcuffed a gang member while they executed a search warrant for weapons, did not violate her rights by questioning her about her immigration status. The Court explained, “[E]ven when officers have no basis for suspecting a particular individual, they may generally ask questions of that individual; ask to examine the individual's identification; and request consent to search his or her luggage." Yet, ignorant liberals who haven’t even read the law continue to bash the law as “un-American,” “racist,” and “discriminatory.” If the law is all of these things, so is the U.S. Supreme Court.
Law-abiding U.S. citizens who live within 80 miles of the Arizona/Mexico border have for years been terrorized and have been pleading for help to stop the daily invasion of their property. The federal government, our current man-child president, and his predecessor, have all ignored them. One rancher testified that 300 to 1200 people each day come across his ranch, vandalizing his property, stealing his vehicles and property, cutting down his fences, and leaving trash. In the last two years he has found 17 dead bodies and two Koran bibles. Another rancher testified that drugs are brought across his ranch daily in a military-style operation. A point man with a machine gun goes in front, 1/2 mile behind are the guards fully armed, 1/2 mile behind them are the drugs, behind the drugs 1/2 mile are more guards. These people are violent and they will kill anyone who gets in their way. Lawful Arizona residents routinely listen to gun fire during the night. It is not safe to leave their families on the ranch and they can't leave the ranch for fear of nothing being left when they return.
David March, a Los Angeles County Sheriff was killed by an illegal when he pulled over a car for a routine traffic stop. So was Officer Kenneth Collings of the Phoenix Police Department, Park ranger Kris Eggle, Oceanside police officer Tony Zeppetella, Phoenix police officer Robert Sitek, Officer Brandon Whitfield, Phoenix policeman Marc Atkinson, Officer Hugo Arrango, and hundreds of other innocent Immigration, Park Service, and Police Officers.
The federal border patrol is not even found on the border. They set up 60 miles away with check points that do nothing to stop the invasion. They are not allowed to use force in stopping anyone who is entering. They run around chasing illegals like chickens loose from their pens, and if they get their hands on them then they simply take back across the border. The illegal who raped a woman behind an Edmonds, Washington grocery store last week had been deported five times. Border security is a laughing stock. Arizona is ground zero for illegal immigration and Phoenix is the epicenter of human smuggling and is the kidnapping capital of the world, with more than 240 kidnappings in 2008 alone. It’s no wonder that Arizona’s police associations favor the new law, along with 70% of Arizona residents.
Wisconsin is not immune from the immigration problem. Illegals in Wisconsin tend to work in hotels, cleaning services, canning or meat industries, farms, construction, landscaping, home repair and roofing. Most are from Mexico but there are others from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mali, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru and Poland. Our proximity to Chicago – a major illegal immigration destination - has fueled the increase in the population of illegals locally. Only recently, 20 fugitive illegal aliens were arrested in Wisconsin following an 11-day operation that targeted only those in violation of deportation orders, including many with criminal convictions for drug dealing, bank fraud, battery, robbery, assault and criminal damage to property.
Wisconsin is not a border state, and its northern border is not seen as a major entry point for illegal immigrants, so enforcement in this state has largely been focused on interior issues. In 2008, an illegal named Ezequiel Lopez-Quintero was convicted of killing Kenosha Deputy Frank Fabiano Jr., a former U.S. Marine and an 18-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department. Fabiano was gunned down on the night of May 16, 2007while attempting a routine traffic stop in the Town of Somers. Fabiano was unable to fulfill his promise of taking his 8 year old daughter, Angelina, to see "Shrek IV" when it opened later that month. The man who shot him should never have been allowed into this country. Don’t boycott Arizona, boycott Racine and Madison, which are two Wisconsin cities which shamelessly offer “sanctuary” to illegals.
Sanctuary cities shamelessly protect illegal aliens through local resolutions, executive orders or city ordinances. City police departments may also issue their own special orders, policies and general orders to a similar effect. The bills prohibit cities, towns, villages and counties from enacting policies that allow them to prohibit workers and agencies from asking about legal citizenship status.
Here in Wisconsin we have illegals offending and re-offending, being deported, yet somehow finding their way back to commit more crimes. Wisconsin ranks 21st in the country, with an estimated 150,000 illegal aliens, far less than the 5 million in California or 4 million in Texas, but far more than the estimated 10,000 in West Virginia, Wyoming, Maine, or Vermont.
Emotion trumps logic when it comes to immigration. In Madison, politically correct lawmakers not only tolerate, but reward violation of federal immigration laws. Last month, the state Senate failed to pass a bill that would make companies that hire illegal aliens ineligible for tax breaks and government contracts. Last year, Wisconsin became one of only ten states which give illegal immigrants discounted tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities.
Here in Wisconsin, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker reversed himself on Arizona's controversial immigration law over the weekend, first expressing serious concerns about “racial profiling.” After being bombarded with negative feedback saying Walker indicated that as governor, he would “sign legislation that strengthens our protection against illegal immigration and ensures that taxpayer funded benefits like BadgerCare and drivers licenses are not available to those who are here illegally." His challenger, Mark Neumann, opposes amnesty, in-state college tuition discounts and drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, and supports the rights of states to protect their citizens when the federal government fails to do so, but hasn’t gone so far as to say he would sign a bill similar to Arizona’s if elected.
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority became the first such agency in the country to make getting a first mortgage easier — for illegal immigrants. Wisconsin did avoid adding its name to the short list of states that allow illegal aliens to get a driver's license, however. Washington, Maryland, New Mexico and Illinois are the only states left which issue a license without documenting immigration status. In 2004 it was estimated that the taxpayers of Wisconsin spent $201.4 million per year on illegal aliens and their children in public schools.
Illegal immigrants are not simply “undocumented,” they are criminals. The first law broken is crossing the border. Where can “legal” immigrants and natural born citizens express our outrage at how our taxes fund the health care, education, pensions, and social services enjoyed by those in this country illegally who simply refuse to assimilate and openly profess an intention to culturally re-conquer America?
When our great-great-grandparents came to these shores during the waves of European immigration, the American industrial giant needed semi-skilled and unskilled workers to fill millions of manufacturing jobs. Most of those jobs are long gone due to big government overregulation, the second-highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, and unchecked union greed. We have 73 million Americans with only a high school education - more than enough unskilled labor. When cheap, illegal labor floods the market, the result is more unemployment for those here legally and a 44% decrease in wages among the poorest Americans.
Illegal immigration, both across the country and here in Wisconsin, is not a victimless crime. It is a crisis for our country - an open door for drugs, criminals, and potential terrorists to cross our borders. Thousands of illegal immigrants crossing the Arizona border are from nations with ties to terror, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen and members of Hezbollah, according to a newly-released Congressional Report on Border Threats. Giving illegals legal status will be seen throughout the world as an invitation for more illegal immigration, while our process for legal immigration becomes more and more expensive and drawn out. It’s time we use less emotion and more common sense in formulating our national and state immigration laws and policies. Abandoned military jackets with insignias depicting 9/11 and reading “Martyr: Way To Eternal Life” have also been found. The report details the route Middle-Easterners take – from Europe to South America, then travel to Mexico and a short walk into the U.S.
Illegal immigration is straining our economy, adding costs to our judicial, healthcare, and education systems. While most illegal immigrants come only to seek work and better economic opportunity, their presence outside the law furnishes an opportunity for terrorists to blend into the same shadows while they target the American public. Building a border fence is no longer an immigration issue; it's a security issue. When the federal government fails to do its job of protecting U.S. citizens and borders, states like Arizona and Wisconsin are our last line of defense.
NOTE: THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY INTENDED FOR PUBLICATION IN MY COLUMN IN THE NEWS GRAPHIC. UNFORTUNATELY, CONLEY PUBLISHING HAS RECENTLY TOLD ITS OP-ED COLUMNISTS THAT THEY MUST WRITE ONLY ABOUT "LOCAL" ISSUES, RATHER THAN ISSUES OF GREAT IMPORTANCE LIKE THIS ONE. APPARENTLY, THIS ARTICLE WASN'T "LOCAL" ENOUGH.