Arizona is shining a spotlight on our souls as Americans. The immigration debate is healthy, Arizona's law a tragedy.

We stand at the precipice of principles. Immigration is the foundation of this country. As every school child knows, the Pilgrims arrived on this land to escape persecution. Throughout the following centuries, an eclectic mix of peoples set foot upon America from every corner of the planet, for myriad reasons. Yet, there has been one constant over the last almost 400 years that defines our country. America is the land of opportunity, be it for economic, religious, or social motives. We owe our lives to the tenet inscribed long ago on the Statue of Liberty. America has a unique place in human history. Only something so powerful as equality, freedom and opportunity can draw a man here. Starvation, insecurity, or a wretched economy are factors that drive a man from his home. Both have combined for centuries to make America the shining beacon upon a hill. Today, 70% of Arizona supports a law which gives police the right to determine a person’s immigration status. It is understandable why it passed. For years Arizona has had to deal with an influx of immigrants for which its economy, schools and hospitals cannot cope. It is not fair that those here legally, residents and citizens alike, must pay higher costs and taxes to cover illegal immigrants. Also, there have been crimes attributed to those here illegally. The Arizona/Mexico border is a porous transit point for drugs, guns and coyotes. The Federal Government tried building a fence that did not help. Then, Arizona took the matter of illegal immigration into its own hands. We know there is a problem with illegal immigration that is not limited to Arizona. California and Texas face similar challenges. Surely, in other areas such as New York City, Atlanta, and Boston, social services are stressed as well due to illegal immigrants. But, there seems to be no backlash nor any pending law allowing local police to determine one’s immigration status based solely on looks and an officer’s impression. There are murders, rapes and robberies committed in this country every day. Some acts are committed by Blacks, some by Whites, some by Asians, some by illegal immigrants. We do not lower the crime rate by asking every Black man to prove they did not committ a crime. We will not lower the risk of terrorism if we ask each Arab to prove their innocence. Is it acceptable, therefore, to ask someone for documentation proving residency, so as to limit the crime of illegal immigration?

As America dives deeper into this polarizing debate, we cannot lose sight of our principles. If we were disgusted by the Nazis in Germany forcing Jews to carry identification; if we are shamed by how we rounded up the Japanese and forced them into our own concentration camps; if we love America and all that she stands for, then remember what the Statue of Liberty has been telling the world for 125 years: “Give me your tired, your poor; Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” America is not about presuming guilt; it is not about ignoring due process; it is not about associating color and ethnicity with a crime; it is not about repeating the mistakes of our past. America is about hope, opportunity, equality and the rule of law. Arizona’s law is inconsistent with America and it is not the solution to illegal immigration. It pushes us over the precipice and we will plummet to a future without our principles. E Pluribus Unum.