Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Something Someone Else Said

"I don't know. I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like." -Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, when asked what criteria will be used to establish reasonable suspicion of someone's legal status after signing a bill Friday that requires police in her state to determine whether a person is in the United States legally.

Now I'm all for securing our borders. As I've said before, both Republicans and Democrats have been dragging their feet on border and port security for years now and it's made us less safe as a country but I just don't see how this new law is going to work:

The bill requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect that they're in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant day laborers or knowingly transport them.

The Republican governor also issued an executive order that requires additional training for local officers on how to implement the law without engaging in racial profiling or discrimination.

"This training will include what does and does not constitute reasonable suspicion that a person is not legally present in the United States," Brewer said after signing the bill.

"Racial profiling is illegal. It is illegal in America, and it's certainly illegal in Arizona," Brewer said.

The rules, to be established in by the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, are due back to her in May. The law goes into effect 90 days after the close of the legislative session, which has not been determined.
Now of course race will be one of the most important components of AZPOST's criteria for identifying illegals. We know that the vast majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona are Mexican so the police are obviously going to be looking for people with dark skin and black hair but beyond that what else can they possibly do? Short of constraining their search to people who are actually caught in the act of climbing over the border fence and to anyone else wearing a sombrero or colorful wrestling mask there's pretty much no other way to determine who's here legally and who isn't just by looking at them. The aforementioned stereotypical headgear aside, illegal immigrants look just like legal immigrants and American citizens of Hispanic descent and I highly doubt that instituting a "know 'em when I see 'em" policy of differentiation will fly legally. So what other criteria can they possibly use that constitutes a "reasonable suspicion"? Is this essentially just giving the police the power to harass and racially profile brown people for being brown people or am I missing something here?


Leslie Parsley said...

It's a bad law for a thousand different reasons. I've also read in several places that police departments don't like it because it takes focus away from much more serious crimes - rape, murder, robbery, etc.

It's kind of like the 60s when guys started wearing long hair. They'd get arrested while walking down the street. Two blocks away there would be three murders. This was Houston.

Anonymous said...

My hometown actually created a Day Labor Center to give folks a central place to go if they're looking for a day's work. I imagine most of those folks are illegal, but I haven't seen anything in the news about large-scale arrests there.

The cops always have an option to enforce a law or not. It's completely in their hands.

JBW said...

The cops were against this law Leslie, for the reasons you named and more.

The cops always have that option one L, but now they also have the option to abuse their power if they choose. Most won't of course but some will. And it is having the desired effect of causing illegals to leave but I still don't think it will remain constitutional.