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Arizona's immigration law panel discussion Sept. 23

September 20, 2010

Four CSU scholars at this year's Diversity Conference will explore issues surrounding Arizona's SB 1070 legislative act in a rigorous and thought-provoking panel discussion from 4-6 p.m. Sept. 23 in the Lory Student Center. The panel is free and open to the public.

Challenging debate on a complex topic

Arizona’s recent immigration measure has resulted in heated reaction ranging from animosity to fervent support in the United States and abroad.

“In organizing a panel on this controversial law, I wanted to achieve a degree of scholarly balance on the issue – panel members include critics and advocates of the measure,” said Steven Mumme, professor of political science at CSU (photo at right).

Emotional issue at times

Mumme, who has been studying immigration topics for nearly 40 years, hopes that participants will welcome new viewpoints expressed by the panel and other attendees.

“Ideally, people will examine the premises they hold dear and, with open minds, challenge themselves to consider other ideas. This is a very complex and sometimes emotional issue that interacts with a wide array of social, political, and economic matters.”

Panel members

The following panel members will present their talks after Mumme’s introductory remarks and overview of SB 1070.

Phil Cafaro, Department of Philosophy

Should America Enforce Its Immigration Laws?

Summary: In recent decades, law enforcement officials at all levels of government have mostly ignored violations of U.S. immigration laws. In many instances, the federal government has gone further, rewarding lawbreakers with U.S. citizenship. As Arizona's SB 1070 and similar initiatives show, American citizens are fed up with this approach to illegal immigration, and rightly so.

The Obama administration's attempts to overturn SB 1070 and create new amnesties suggest they are no more serious about enforcing immigration laws than other recent administrations. These actions show a real contempt for the will of the American people and a lack of concern for the many American citizens currently looking for work in a bleak job market.

Joon Kim, Department of Ethnic Studies

SB 1070 in Historical Perspective

Summary: SB 1070 does not pass the test of reasonableness in terms of law and common sense in this day and age. It reminds us of the immigration debates in the 19th century when citizens openly engaged in public discourse about discriminating against a certain class of people. In retrospect, these immigration laws left an indelible mark in American history that fundamentally shaped race relations for generations to come.

The framework of this bill is a major departure from the progress we made as a society re-dedicated to the ideals of freedom, democracy, and equality. However, it challenges us to come up with a coherent immigration policy that is consistent with those ideals and with our common sensibilities.

Ernesto Sagas, Department of Ethnic Studies

Implications for Hispanics and At-risk Minorities

Summary: Laws such as Arizona's SB 1070 invite profiling of racial/ethnic minorities and create distrust toward local law enforcement agencies while doing little to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants.

On the other hand, these initiatives have the (un)intended consequence of fueling political mobilization among both supporters and opponents while polarizing the electorate in an election year.

Steve Shulman, Department of Economics

Why the Support for SB 1070?

Summary: SB 1070 is a bad piece of legislation that is supported for understandable reasons. Illegal immigration creates significant costs in high-impact states like Arizona. It also creates benefits, but there is little doubt that opposition to illegal immigration can be justified in rational terms. To write it off as racism is not just inaccurate, it precludes the possibility of constructive dialogue.

Compromise solutions are plausible

The good news about the immigration debate is that compromise solutions are plausible. One will be suggested here.