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Regressive, racist law April 28, 2010

Posted by jdoetkott in Politics.
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By now I am sure you have all heard of the controversial new immigration bill in Arizona that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last Friday.

There have been many outspoken critics and supporters of the law, and I am here to add my name to the former.

This is a regressive and racist law that effectively legalizes racial profiling and will lead to nothing more than harassment and increased anti-Hispanic sentiment. Gov. Brewer and other supporters of this bill should be ashamed of themselves for allowing such a law to exist in a country that has forever prided itself on justice and equality for all individuals.

Despite what Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin say (and yes Sean, I did read it), this bill, though perhaps indirectly, does indeed permit racial profiling.

A law enforcement officer is required to make a “reasonable attempt…to determine the immigration status of a person” during “lawful contact” with any individual “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.”

Now the “lawful contact” portion of that section, Sean would argue, dispels the rumor that racial profiling is part of the law because a law enforcement officer would already need a reason to stop the person before inquiring about their immigration status. However, regardless of how it may be defined under state law, in actuality, “lawful contact” takes many forms. Any law enforcement officer can make “lawful contact” with any individual they determine to be loitering (perhaps just waiting for a bus), driving erratically (swerving to miss a pothole), or generally acting suspicious (wearing a hood).

“Lawful contact” is a joke. Police officers can stop whomever they want, and can come up with any reason for doing so. They don’t always do so with insidious intent, but they do. And that’s the honest truth.

So our focus then should be on the truly demeaning and racist part of this legislation that says a law enforcement officer can ask for proof of immigration status “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.”

Tell me what “reasonable suspicion” that a person is illegal could possibly exist without being racist or at the very least, prejudiced.

Would the fact that a person speaks Spanish be a “reasonable suspicion”? Because you know, I happen to speak Spanish, and I’m a white man born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

Would the fact that they are Hispanic be a “reasonable suspicion”? Because you know, I think it would then be reasonable to suspect law enforcement personnel of being racist. Remember that whole “judging people by the color of their skin” thing? Yeah, we call that racism here.

Or would the fact that a person seems hesitant to talk to police be a “reasonable suspicion”? Because you know, I think if law enforcement officers were allowed to harass me based on racist and prejudiced perceptions, I would be hesitant too.

The very fact that this law was even passed at the state level is astounding. Immigration is the responsibility of the federal government, not the state. According to New York Times article which surveyed legal scholars who know much more than I, many of them think the law is actually unconstitutional. So congrats Arizona legislature, you have just broken federal law (kind of like illegal immigrants do).

As with any political issue I am open to hearing the opposing arguments, but I refuse to believe that the outcome of this law will be anything but the persecution of Hispanics and other minority groups based directly on race, language, and culture.

I also have no doubt that this law will achieve its goal of reducing Arizona’s illegal immigration population. But doing so at the cost of civil liberties is just plain wrong. This law is a regressive step in terms of civil rights and an outrageous affront on equality in this country.

I support all my fellow opponents of this law (including St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman) and call on each and every one of you to do something to speak out against this terrible injustice.

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Comments»

1. iowa.hawkeyes#1 - April 28, 2010

I completely agree. The Arizona law is nothing but a legal racism and profiling. Although immigration reform is one of the pressing matters facing the country, I believe the problem can be fixed in a less extreme and more sensible manner. “More sensible”, in this manner, meaning friendlier to both citizens of the United States and Mexico.

2. sopaw - April 28, 2010

That law is against so many rights that we have as American’s. Personally as a Mexican-American I am offended. Tengo orgullo en lo que soy!

3. Alex - April 28, 2010

It really is an ugly day in history. I tried to explain this to a guy I know today. He literally could not see it in any other perspective them his as a white person.

4. Kelli Shaffner - April 28, 2010

I definitely agree with you John, and so does most of the country (or so I’d like to believe). What’s interesting is that some people (including myself, and Stephen Colbert) are saying that this is similar to the Jim Crow south of the ’60s. The only difference is, and this is obviously an important one, in the ’60s African Americans could openly protest such laws, although they had a likely chance of being arrested. But with this Arizona law, if there are a bunch of Latinos peacefully protesting, they can be civilly disobediant and refuse to show their documents or IDs, but they’ll face not only jail time but possible deportation as well.

5. Merfbe - May 3, 2010

I concur! I don’t understand how people are unable, or unwilling, to see how unjust and ignorant this is.

6. SunDevil - May 13, 2010

This will go down as one of the darkest moments in american history. i am so ashamed to be from arizona. people are using fear to spread their racist political agenda


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