Prove you’re a citizen! Immigration debate hits NKU

Anytime a law is made dealing with a controversial subject, discussion is going to continue to swarm for months after.

“Everyone is for legal immigration,” said Thomas Wurtz, owner of a consulting business in Cincinnati and member of the Kenton County Tea Party movement. “We love when they come in the front door, just not the back door.”

“The flavor of the month is Mexican,” countered Louis Valencia, attorney at his own law firm located in Cincinnati. “The question is not the border with Canada, not with Western Europeans and not with Colombians — It is all about the Mexicans.”

A panel was held Nov. 11 afternoon at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law discussing the Kentucky support for the Arizona law S.B. 1070. Wurtz and Valencia were on the panel, hosted by the Chase Latino Law Student Association and the International Law Student Association.

Arizona law S.B. 1070 was signed into law on April 23 by Governor Jan Brewer. The intent of the law, stated in the first section, is to make attrition through enforcement, the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona. The law is trying to reduce “the unlawful entry and presence of illegal aliens and economic activity by illegal aliens in the United States.” This is to be accomplished by allowing law enforcement during a lawful stop “to determine immigration status of individuals who they reasonably suspect to be illegal aliens, and for all persons who are arrested.”

The fiscal courts of Kenton County and Boone County in northern Kentucky endorsed the Arizona law on Aug. 10. The resolution was requested to show support for the rights of states to enact legislation without interference from the federal government.

“If the federal government won’t defend the federal law, then who will?” Wurtz said. “We have to try to enforce the law with the best of our ability.”

Wurtz sees the state law as a way to back the federal law. Valencia views it as a way to accuse others of the misfortune in the United States.

“A common theme throughout history is to blame someone else,” Valencia said. “Blaming the Mexicans is a way to make ourselves feel better about the economy.”

The police who are trying to enforce the law was a major topic during the panel’s discussion.

“I don’t understand the attack on the police,” Wurtz said. “You’re innocent until proven guilty, unless you are a police officer in Arizona.”

“We are not all innocent until proven guilty,” Valencia countered. “If anyone thinks that, they need to stop reading Aesop’s Fables and Mother Goose tales. When you walk in, you are automatically judged for the good, bad and ugly.”

David Tynes, a first-year law student, sees a problem in trying to enforce the law.

“The problem with the Arizona law is not that they are corrupt,” Tynes said. “It is that they are given an impossible task.”

As police try to enforce this law, the issue of racial profiling comes into play.

“How are you supposed to know what an American is?” commented Zachary Hoskins, a second-year Chase law student.

“The answer is that you can’t,” Wurtz replied. “The law tries to make it clear that you have to be stopped for other reasons.”

Story by John Minor