Monday, April 26, 2010

AZ immigration law simply racist

The new immigration law passed by the Arizona State Legislature and signed by the state's governor last week is nothing short of legalized racism.

The law requires police officers who have suspicions about a person they believe might be an undocumented immigrant to question that person, and to request that they turn over documentation proving their legal status. Failure to do so can result in jail time.

The officer's suspicion can be based on anything -- it doesn't have to be justified.

The law allows for blatant racial profiling, and will undoubtedly target the Hispanic population within the state of Arizona. Those who appear to be undocumented immigrants -- and in the officers' eyes, that could include anyone with "brown" skin -- will be required to prove their residency in the U.S. is legit.

This will include people who reside here legally as well as persons who were, in fact, born here to begin with.

It isn't just a law of inconvenience. The law can affect a person's life in drastic ways -- including whether or not they are able to perform their own job without interference from law personnel.

Just last week within the state, a Hispanic truck driver was pulled over and told he had to provide his birth certificate before he would be let go by the police. He had already provided various other forms of identification, including reciting his social security number and providing his commercial driver's license, before being told that only his birth certificate would do.

The driver was born in the United States.

What's worse is that this incident occurred before the bill in Arizona had even become law. Which means that more incidents like this are bound to happen more often.

I'm not trying to say that all officers are racists, or that Arizonan officers are all going to target minorities who appear to be "illegal immigrants" in their eyes. On the record, I would like to say that I have great respect for police personnel and those that serve to protect our communities.

The problem with this law, however, is that it ALLOWS Arizonan officers the CHOICE to be racist -- without recourse or penalty of any kind. Their actions can be justified simply by saying they had "suspicions." I trust that most officers will do what's right, and won't bother most Hispanics they come across while on duty. But there will be some racist cops, just as there are racist bankers or racist politicians, who will abuse their power and harass those they believe to be "illegals."

More needs to occur before any arrest can be made, for immigrants and citizens alike who may be affected by this law. The burden of proof must remain on the side of the police officer, and we should not treat minorities who appear to be immigrants (who may, in fact, be law abiding citizens) as "guilty until proven innocent." "Suspicion" alone isn't enough; there must be probable cause to arrest a person, as provided for within the Fourth Amendment of our Constitution.


I have a hard time believing this law isn't meant to target a certain demographic. Deterring against illegal immigration is one thing; but this law will reach far beyond those who are trying to enter illegally, affecting those who are here legally and even those who were born here, who are true-blooded Americans. Passing a law like this doesn't just say, "We want undocumented immigrants out;" it also says, "We don't care how many lives we need to affect and perhaps ruin in order to prevent immigration, so long as those lives aren't white people's."

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