Having spent most of my life in Minnesota, I have to admit that stories about illegal immigration and the border always seemed very far away. They were. My recent trip to Arizona for our "Immigration Nation" piece was an eye-opener. Protestors hurling insults at Mexican day-laborers and calling the people who hire them "traitors."
Arizona has become a real fault line in the debate over illegal immigration. The state has adopted one of the toughest immigration laws in the country. Instead of simply being fined for hiring illegal workers, businesses can now be shut down. By almost all estimates the law is working. Bus loads of illegal and legal workers are streaming out of the state.
However, what's left behind highlights the real complexities of the immigration issue. Will economies in border states suffer if they really crack down on illegal workers? Are there enough Americans willing to work in construction, agricultural, and service industry jobs for low wages? If you kick out an illegal worker, do you also lose the legal one that is a member of their family or their friend?
On a human level, you also feel for people just trying to find a better life in the United States. But we are also a nation of laws and there are good reasons to enforce them. Only time will tell if the current laws hurt more than they help.