Illegal migrants aren’t the only ones to pick and choose laws

“Illegal immigrants chose to come here against our laws and proceeded to choose which laws they would follow and which they would ignore, demanding rights to which they are not entitled.”

This was taken from a recent letter to the editor in the Arizona Republic. The woman, Alice Wilson, goes on to say, “Legal citizens are not allowed such luxury. If all of us chose the laws we liked and ignored those we didn’t, we would have anarchy.”

While that’s a good attempt at a logical reason for why we should obey any and all laws, it’s too general of a statement and doesn’t hold up under examination.

I decided to respond to the writer with my own letter to the editor, but it wasn’t printed. So instead I’ll share it, and better yet, expand upon it here.

First of all, undocumented immigrants are not the only ones who pick and choose which laws they will obey. So do American citizens. We pick and choose each day if we’ll obey the speed limit or come to a complete stop at the stop sign. We pick and choose each year if we’ll follow all of the tax laws or try to get around some of them.

It’s true that speeding and other traffic violations are generally classified as misdemeanors but so is crossing into this country without legal documentation or overstaying a visa.

The writer goes on to say, “I have nothing against immigrants but would like a level playing field. I want all of us in this country to adhere to the same laws.”

To that, I agree. I would like to live in a country where the rich aren’t allowed greater access to justice because they can afford a better attorney or a higher likelihood of overcoming a long-term illness because they can afford better or more comprehensive medical care. Nor should they be allowed additional tax breaks because they can afford a better CPA and more powerful attorneys to lobby Congress on their behalf.

This is, in essence, the argument of the Occupy Wall Street protestors, those angry that the one percent seems to be on a much different playing field than the rest of the country. I’m not sure if Ms. Wilson is part of the Occupy Movement, but it seems they agree on this point.

Ms. Wilson ends her letter by saying, “I object to some being allowed to flout our laws and then demand more concessions from legal, taxpaying citizens.”

I enthusiastically agree! I am greatly disturbed that I, as a taxpayer in Maricopa County, have had to pay for Sheriff Arpaio’s millions upon millions of dollars ($50 million and counting) in lawsuits, including lawsuits that allege a disregard for the U.S. Constitution. Nor do I believe I should have to pay for the millions of dollars that will be racked up by his office because he refuses to cooperate with the federal government, a government duly elected by the American people.

Whether we’re speaking about American citizens or undocumented immigrants, we all pick and choose which laws we will obey. What differs, though, is the intent behind it. If the intent is to cause harm, then the punishment should fit the crime. For the vast majority of undocumented immigrants, the intent is not evil but rather one of desperation in search of a better life. I’m not sure I can say the same thing about Sheriff Arpaio’s attempts to skirt the law and silence his detractors.

No, undocumented immigrants should not be allowed a “free ride,” nor should they be punished or spoken of as if they are rapists or murderers. To categorize the undocumented in this manner or exult an elected official for his crimes is to disregard the very tenants of justice this country was founded on.


  1. Mike Slater

    As a taxpayer in Maricopa County I resent having to pay for the D-backs baseball statium. As aGlendale resident I resent having to pay for the hocky team and the arena. We all pay for things we don’t agree with.

    Mrs. Erfle, If I’m not mistaken your husband was killed by an illegal alien so I’m having trouble understanding your empathy for illegals.

    1. Post
      Julie Erfle

      If my husband was killed by a black man, would that mean I should hate all black men? What about a white man? My husband was killed by a felon with a long criminal history. His murderer is not representative of all undocumented immigrants.

  2. Jewel in the Desert

    Another well written article that actually makes some very valid and sensible points on the topic of “undocumented” immigrants. I especially liked the point you made about Joe Arpaio. If anyone flouts the law and picks and chooses which laws he will comply with, it’s him, and at a huge cost in lives and millions of taxpayer dollars which are so desperately needed in our state. I don’t know if you happened to read the article by Amy McMullen about her experience recently in Arpaio’s 4th Ave. jail. It was nothing short of sadistic. Not only was she needlessly kept for almost 24 hours, she was subjected to agonizing hours of freezing cold air without even a blanket to warm herself. The people there were so desperate for warmth they were wrapping themselves with toilet paper. How much does that cost our county every day to keep the temperature so cold it causes mild hypothermia? What about the medical costs that could bring from lawsuits for those who get sick from this “treatment”? This is just the tip of the iceberg of the things that go on in Arpaio’s jails which ultimately cost us all in the end. Thank you for doing your part to shine the light on Arpaio. Keep up the good work.

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