U.S. Representative Jared Polis

Floor Speeches

One Minute Speech on Consequences of Pending AZ Immigration Bill

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Washington, April 15, 2010 | comments
One Minute Speech on the Consequences of Pending AZ Immigration Bill
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)
 Thursday, April 15, 2010

Madam Speaker, I rise today to discuss the consequences of our failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

On Tuesday, lawmakers in Arizona passed new immigration enforcement legislation that allows local law enforcement officials to single out undocumented immigrants based solely upon a ``reasonable belief'' that they are undocumented and imprison them for up to 6 months. This bill will significantly undermine the efforts of many law enforcement agencies towards curbing racial profiling by police throughout the country and will increase crime by taking cops off their beats fighting crime and instead using them to enforce Federal immigration laws.

Arizona would force untrained State police officers to take the role of Federal immigration agents and somehow make the determination of whether the person is documented or not based upon their subjective belief or observations. It effectively mandates local police to engage in racial profiling and discrimination. This law would mandate the arrest of a person who can't present documentation of legal status. We can imagine all sorts of abuses and unnecessary harassment that will result from such an ill-conceived law. When one goes to the grocery store or takes one's kids to school, do we take a passport with us? I know I don't.

The true culprit here, sadly, is the United States Congress, not Arizona. Because we have refused to take action, States are being pressured on all sides to act. States have haphazardly passed a patchwork of laws in an attempt to deal with the pressing issue of immigration. These local laws have unintended consequences which often lead to disastrous results, as we will surely see in Arizona.

The Arizona law is a symptom of our broken immigration system, and only Congress can truly solve the crisis. Immigration is fundamentally a Federal issue, and yet we here in Congress continue to fail in meeting our responsibility that's allocated to this body and the Federal Government. Until we can pass comprehensive immigration reform, these misguided local laws will continue to be passed in vain attempts to address the issue at a local level, and we will continue to suffer from the unintended consequences and abuses that they foster.

Yes, Arizona will suffer because of this law. How can we expect to recover from our recession if we chase away our workers, shrink our tax base, and scare honest, hardworking American families? Blanket discrimination and persecution is not the way to solve the immigration or economic crisis.

In order to prevent more States from following in Arizona's footsteps, I encourage my colleagues in Congress to act immediately to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
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