This summer has been full of controversial pieces of legislation, on both national and local levels. Perhaps the most controversial law passed was the Arizona immigration law. The law would give Arizona state law enforcement the right to enforce Federal immigration laws, and in some cases check for immigration status. Immigration is such a hot-button issue because it is important to everyone in America, even Wisconsinites.
While a similar law is unlikely to pass in Wisconsin, the nature of the law should resonate in every state. When the federal government fails to do its duties, in this case enforcing illegal immigration, states should have the right to enforce those laws.
There is no doubt that immigration is important to America. New workers, ideas and culture are vital to perpetuating the American way of life. That is why it is essential to have an efficient legal immigration system.
However, allowing illegal immigration is damaging to the nation's foundational definining laws. It shows that our leaders are not willing to follow the laws they are meant to enforce which ultimately erodes the viability of America's laws.
On Nov. 2, Wisconsin voters will take to the polls to vote for governor, the state's executive, and it is important to fully understand the top Republican and Democratic candidates' view on immigration. With their current opinions, Republican Scott Walker's stance on illegal immigration is better suited for Wisconsin than Democrat Tom Barrett's.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has taken a typical liberal stance towards illegal immigration. At first, Barrett said the Arizona law took a random approach that would not benefit the cause of cracking down on illegal immigration. He recently voiced his concern for the cost of expelling illegal immigrants and suggested adopting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already living here.
Yet, using amnesty to solve the illegal immigration situation is poor practice that shouldn't have been done in the Reagan administration and should not be considered an option today. In 1986, Reagan's sweeping immigration reform granted amnesty to three million illegal immigrants. Meaning that three million individuals who broke American law went unpunished. But more importantly, granting amnesty to existing immigrants avoids actually trying to fix our legal immigration system while simultaneously destroying law.
On the immigration issue, Republican frontrunner Scott Walker notably changed his position on the Arizona immigration law after the law's revision. He states that the law, as it is now, protects the United States' 10th Amendment and protects against racial profiling. Walker claims that he would sign a similar bill into law.
Though Scott Walker, like nearly every politician, has changed his position, his current stance is best for the state of Wisconsin. His willingness to sign a law that gives state law enforcement the ability to reasonably check immigration status is vital to preserving the law and hopefully to slow the rate of illegal immigration. He supports punishments for hiring illegal immigrants and deportation.
Concerns with deportation, the opposite of amnesty, lie in the realm of fiscal conservatism; is it fiscally possible to deport all illegal immigrants? But there are times when money should be the issue and times when it should not take priority.
Many of Walker's views are not pragmatic; they are expensive and will expel workers and consumers. However, pragmatism is not as important as keeping a solid rule of law. While our nation is built by immigrants in part, it is primarily built on a foundation of the law. Without the rule of law, any nation will crumble and fail. Barrett's ideas—amnesty and a permit for non-citizens—are detrimental to the structure of our society.
A robust and enforced word of law is vital to any society. It protects citizens from themselves and from the government. Proper enforcement will also slow down illegal activity. When the word of law is poorly enforced a society can expect problems, like drug and gun runners easily getting in because of relaxed immigration enforcement. When governors and executives fail to enforce laws, the citizens suffer.
Illegal immigration needs to be addressed, and Walker is willing to get that done. The legal immigration system cannot be reformed if executives, through allowing amnesty, show that it is easier to come to America illegally.
The illegal immigration debate will not go away soon. A strong and stable immigration system is vital to keeping our nation a world leader. However, having executives who faithfully execute the laws and are willing to do what is legal and necessary to do so is even more important. Of the two front-runners for Wisconsin's governor, Scott Walker is the candidate with the immigration policy that best upholds the word of law and allows for future reforms in the immigration system.
Matt Beaty is a freshman intending to major in mathematics and computer science. Please send all feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org