Appraising Arizona
The experts examine the state's new immigration law.


If this isn’t Big Brother run amok, I don’t know what is. I am at a loss to understand why my fellow conservatives think this is a good idea. The incident that gave impetus to the law was the killing of a rancher, presumably by a Mexican drug dealer who had crossed illegally into Arizona. But we don’t know that; we only suspect it. Furthermore, crime in Arizona has gone down consistently from 1990 to the present — at the very time that illegal immigration was going up dramatically — and the violent crime rate in the state is lower than the national average, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Moreover, the flow of illegals into the U.S. generally and into Arizona specifically has also gone down dramatically over the last two years, partly as result of better enforcement and partly because of the weak economy. We need to secure our borders and ensure a more reasonable legal-immigration policy, one that makes it possible for American employers to have access to labor when they need it. But states’ usurping the constitutional role of the federal government in these efforts is not the right approach.

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity.

Without consistent laws, society deteriorates into anarchy, as William Golding powerfully described in Lord of the Flies, a story of boys stranded without adult supervision. In the absence of a sensible federal immigration policy, states have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. Arizona does not have the power to issue visas and green cards and to give them to immigrants whose work would benefit Arizona’s economy. This is the role of the federal government, and our government has failed.

It’s worth noting that just as Arizona passed its restrictive new immigration law, Princeton University Press published The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World, by Ben Wildavsky. He meticulously demonstrates how competition for academic talent is international, with top universities all over the world chasing the brightest students.

America can attract the best global minds as students, but in order to keep them here and reap the benefits of our investment, we need to issue more green cards.

Undocumented workers in Arizona will now be detained, imprisoned, and deported; after foreign students receive their degrees from elite American universities, they are shown the door and sent back home, albeit in a kinder, gentler manner. We need more visas and green cards to allow more high- and low-skill workers to stay in America.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is senior fellow and director of the Center for Employment Policy at the Hudson Institute.