AB190 threatens all Americans

Joseph Canning | canni001@rangers.uwp.edu

Immigration has been a touchy subject in the United States for its entire history, but there are times when discussion regarding immigration flares into outright nativism. The recently proposed Wisconsin Assembly Bill 190 and Senate Bill 275 are emblematic of this country’s renewed nativist fervor fueled by reckless populism and misplaced fears.

The proposal

Both AB190 and SB275 make many of the same proposals, but each one is associated with a different house of Wisconsin’s government. Both were the result of collaboration between state Republicans in an attempt to manufacture a clone of Texas’ maligned SB4 bill that was halted in late August.

The bills threaten government subdivisions subordinate to the state government (i.e. local governments) with accumulating daily charges of up to $5,000 that come out of shared funding if they do not comply with laws and detainers ruled by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Additionally—and most controversially—the propositions permit and encourage public employees, including local law enforcement, to question immigrants on whether they have legally entered the country. These measures effectively turn any government employee into an ICE agent.

Legislating Injustice

Both bills are unjust: they trample on the privacy, dignity, and what tatters remain of the constitutional right of every citizen—immigrant or not—against unreasonable search and seizure. These proposals are completely counter to the lofty ideals held by the men who penned the Bill of Rights; they go against the greatest values instilled in the American spirit.

One’s constitutional rights as an American are something that should be treated with reverence and guarded closely. Americans’ rights have never been infringed upon so casually since the World Wars as they are in today’s age of terrorism, and any sign of them being eroded further warrants a fierce response.

Setting the precedent

Even if one is not themselves illegally present in this country, AB190 and laws of its essence should not be waved away as irrelevant to them. Precedent is commanding in lawmaking: politicians are adept at adaptation and appropriation. Again, AB190 is itself a derivative of SB4. The spirit of the law is something that must be upheld yet is much more ill-defined than is convenient.

The importance of precedence in law should also not be dismissed as a slippery-slope—it is a very real phenomenon.

Even though an individual may not be the target of legislation passed today, political change is inevitable and often unpredictable. A decade ago, who saw the thunderous resurrection of American populism on the horizon?   People change, policy changes, the zeitgeist is fleeting, but the decisions we make today based on it will resound forever.

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