Illegal Immigration: News from Georgia and Texas

A couple of things happened in the past few days that have called attention to the issue of illegal immigration once again. The State of Georgia passed a bill giving law enforcement personnel permission to verify the immigration status of people suspected of various crimes and to arrest those in this country illegally. Businesses with at least ten employees would be required to use a database to check on new hires to make sure they’re in this country legally. This is similar in nature to a law passed in Arizona in April of last year. Unfortunately, a lower court’s ruling to block the central provisions of that Arizona law was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Utah passed a law similar to the one in Georgia in March, and several other states, including Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama are considering similar laws, but twenty other states have hit the “pause” button while they wait for the legal challenges to such laws to be worked out. It’s difficult, it seems, to craft state laws that don’t step on the federal government’s toes. Nothing is ever simple.

Stopping someone for say, a traffic infraction, and asking that person if he/she is a legal resident of this country and to show proof of same would seem to be a no-brainer, right? Well, no, according to many people, including the courts and the illegals themselves, it’s wrong, wrong, wrong. It would mean “profiling” people and would cause mistrust of law enforcement personnel, etc. The American Civil Liberties Union is horrified.

Well, let’s see, if you or I were driving down a road, maybe going just a little too fast, and a nice deputy pulled us over, could we prove we’re in this country legally? How? Well, I can tell you in the great State of Texas, by golly, you can’t get a driver’s license unless you show them proof of where you were born. There have been some interesting twists and turns in getting a driver’s license if you’re a legal immigrant. If you’re interested in a recent Texas law that was blocked by a judge, check out this link to an Immigration Law Answers Blog . Legal immigrants can get a driver’s license, but illegals would have a tougher time of it.

Well, what about whipping out your Social Security card? Would that work? Actually, it should. Legal immigrants can get a social security card if they receive permission from the Department of Homeland Security, as per this excerpt from the above web site:

In general, only noncitizens who have permission to work from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can apply for a Social Security number. To apply for a Social Security number:

Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5); and show us original documents proving your: Immigration status; Work eligibility; Age; and Identity. Then, take your completed application and original documents to your local Social Security office.

Immigration status 
To prove your U.S. immigration status, you must show us the current U.S. immigration document, I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, issued to you when you arrived in the United States. If you are an F-1 or M-1 student, you also must show us your I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. If you are a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor, you must show us your DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.

So, a social security card would seem to do it, assuming it isn’t a fake. Show your card, thank the nice officer for your speeding ticket and go on your merry way. However, I guess it’s strictly verboten to ask for your social security card, which, by the way, we’re often cautioned not to carry around with us because heaven forbid that someone should get hold if it and steal our identity. No, a simple driver’s license will have to do.

But what if you or I were speeding along say, on a lovely highway in Ecuador and got stopped. (I started to give Mexico as an example, but not many of us would think of driving around Mexico right now.) Do you think the nice police officer just might be curious to know what we were doing there? Maybe ask for a passport or something similar? Well, why in the world would he? Good grief! There are thousands of Americans in Ecuador! Been here for years! My father lives here. I have children here. Am I being profiled? The police officer must have a thing against… gringos! It’s an outrage.

Well, it seems illegal immigrants are getting a bit more vocal in this country. We can all remember what loud noises they made when Arizona passed its laws. On Friday, a group of illegal immigrant students at Texas A&M rallied on campus to request legal status to live in this country and continue their studies here. Their parents are here. They’ve been here for years. However, Homeland Security doesn’t have a policy allowing the students to stay in this country or to obtain legal status here. Hmmm… what to do?

Meanwhile, 22 Democratic Senators sent President Obama a letter asking him to grant deferrals to the illegal-immigrant students. This would allow them to stay in this country and finish their studies, but all bets are off after that. The deferral wouldn’t put them on a path to U.S. citizenship.

There are no easy answers. We let this train run off the tracks a long time ago, and now it’s going to be very, very difficult to set it right again. President George W. Bush tried, but his efforts were rebuffed. See “Bush Amnesty Plan Raises Immigration Concerns.”

No matter what is done about illegal immigration, huge numbers of people will be outraged and angry at any measures taken to curb same. If nothing at all is done about illegal immigration, we will be foolish and no doubt, regretful, in the long run. We need some reasonable people with intelligence and compassion working on this problem. Wonder if we have anyone like that in Congress right now?

About M.J.Deare

I am a writer, actively researching topics of interest. I am also a graduate of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, with a degree in English, and have a master's degree from the University of Memphis. Born in New Orleans, I lived there until moving to northwest Arkansas and from there to Memphis, Tennessee. My husband and I currently reside in The Woodlands, Texas.
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