America's "Gold Door" of Liberty Slams Shut

Aged, yet timeless, she stands tall with her right arm raised to the sky. Her left arm clutches the Declaration of Independence. She screams with silent lips, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the gold door!”

She is the Statue of Liberty; she is freedom; she is the United States of America.

Well, at least she was when first unveiled on American shores in 1886. Today, with multiple states implementing their own anti-illegal immigration laws, that “gold door” to the U.S. is rapidly closing. The constitutionality of these laws, which require businesses to confirm the legal status of employees, was just approved by the U.S. Supreme Court; this could potentially encourage employee discrimination.

In a 5-3 ruling, the Court upheld an Arizona law that fines businesses that repeatedly hire illegal aliens as workers. The law requires state businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to check every employee’s immigration status.

The ruling also allows other states to take a stance with immigration, and implement similar laws. But these laws charge businesses that hire illegal workers, and even give the state power to shut down the businesses for repeat offenses. The ruling creates the possibility of discrimination in employee hiring.

Employers, who do not want to deal with the E-Verify system and chance getting fined, may choose to simply stop interviewing people with foreign or Hispanic sounding names. This is especially probable in states with high illegal immigration. While this law seems like a victory because it cuts down illegal immigrants' job opportunities, it poses a significant problem for some Americans and legal immigrants who could be judged solely on name.

The immigration battle should not be fought within the businesses that employ illegal aliens; it should be fought on the border with stricter controls. Arizona’s immigration laws will not stop illegal immigrants from flooding the job markets. If anything, these illegal immigrants will become scavenger workers and will only stay at jobs for shorter time periods to avoid authorities. Or, instead of moving in to Arizona, illegal workers could shift their prospects to neighboring states such as New Mexico and Nevada.

Perhaps that is what the lawmakers and citizens of Arizona want: Simply shift the problem from their backyard to their neighbor’s. Either way, the message is clear.

Most Americans no longer live by the creed of “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.” Mass immigration is shifting the views of most Americans, and the “gold door” of liberty, the American border, is slamming shut.

Photo CreditWikimedia Commons

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Whitney Waters

Whitney Waters graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law in May 2012, and is a member of the Kentucky Bar. She has a B.S. in Agricultural Biotechnology and a B.S. in Journalism. Her areas of interest include intellectual property, foreign, environmental, and social policy. She is currently a Intellectual Property Masters of Law candidate at The George Washington University and Presidential Management Fellow.

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