Racial Profiling and Discrimination in Arizona

Have you seen some of the signs held by those protesting the new Arizona immigration law? They say things like “We have rights!” and “We are human!” Well, nothing in the law allows for inhumane treatment of anyone. (Of course, illegal immigrants do have fewer rights precisely because they are NOT LEGAL citizens — or, even residents — in this country.) So, these people are either ignorant of what the law actually says or dishonest about its implications. Honestly, you’d think Arizona was gonna round up all the Hispanics and throw them in an internment camp! But, this kind of “poor us, we are so oppressed” thinking is ridiculous!

Arizona Protesters with "We Are Human" signs

Protesters against Arizona immigration law (Monica Almeida / NY Times)

Arizona’s lawmakers and its governor are just trying to reinforce the law and the idea that illegal entry is indeed a crime and punishable as such by law. What a concept! If people, including LEGAL immigrants, want somebody to yell at, try the federal government, who let the situation get so bad in the first place. (Yes, that includes prior administrations, not just Obama’s.)

I won’t get into it all, but I do have a few thoughts on the immigration mess and, in particular, the new law passed in Arizona.

1) Ninety-five percent of those crossing illegally into Arizona from Mexico are, indeed, Mexican. If those being asked about their citizenship status are Mexican, then that’s certainly not untoward discrimination as far as illegals go. If the problem were hordes of red-headed Irishmen, that’s who would be questioned. That’s called playing the odds, which leads to my next point….

2) Generally speaking, “racial profiling” has become a racially-charged term decried by civil rights protesters. But, is this fair? Law enforcement (and everyone else) knows, for example, that modern terrorists are predominantly (by far) of Middle-Eastern extraction — and, in particular, devout Muslim. So, identifying terrorist suspects will by nature involve “profiling” those that fit the description. (That’s what “profilers” do, for cryin’ out loud, to narrow the list of suspects!) By the same token, if a cop is already confronting someone over illegal activity and they fit the general description of someone guilty of another crime, he/she has every right to demand valid identification. This is not open license to hassle anyone who looks a certain way just because you feel like it, and measures do need to be taken to make sure law enforcement — whether agencies, departments, or individuals — doesn’t become “overzealous”, just because most of the criminals they deal with share a certain appearance. Beyond that, profiling based on whatever characteristics make sense for a particular type of crime is reasonable.

3) According to anthropologists, Hispanics are part of the “Caucasoid” race. They are not their own race any more than Jews are. These are better called “ethnic groups” or “ethnicities”. Many forms (e.g., the Census) consider both groups Caucasian, too. So, how does this law or any immigration crackdown have anything to do with “racism”? And, lest you accuse Arizona (or anyone else) of “ethnic profiling”, please re-read #1 and all but the first two sentences of #2.

4) If you listen to President Obama or the ACLU or even some conservative politicians (e.g., Marco Rubio) and news shows (e.g., Fox News) that should know better, you would think the new Arizona law allows for law enforcement officers to approach and hassle anyone just for speaking Spanish or having brown skin. Wrong! The law actually specifies that a “lawful contact” take place first. This could be anything where an alleged crime (other than illegal entry into the U.S.) has been committed — e.g., domestic violence, drug trafficking, robbery, bar fight, etc. It also applies for certain traffic violations, like speeding — often an indicator of more serious infractions. The cop can demand they produce some form of valid, government-issued ID that indicates the individual is legally in Arizona (and, thus, the U.S.). Failing this, the individual may be subjected to additional questioning. If the officer believes he/she has probable cause, they can make an arrest.

5) The law makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to be in the U.S. That is, it is illegal to be illegal. Someone who has committed this crime shall now be treated as a criminal. How about that! If the federal government had been doing its job, the leaders in Arizona wouldn’t have felt it necessary to enact such an “obvious” law. But, it wasn’t, so they did. Good for them.

6) My advice to the legal immigrants (who shouldn’t have an issue with this) is to stay calm, stay friendly, speak English, and cooperate. That’s it. If you panic or do something stupid or suspicious, you’ll just cause yourself more problems. (Same goes for anyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, of course.) And don’t listen to the Leftie activist groups and individuals. They either haven’t got a clue, or they’re purposely trying to rile you up and cause racial & ethnic tensions, which keeps them in business. (Yes, Al Sharpton, I’m talking about you. And the ACLU. And many in the mainstream media. And….)

End.

UPDATE 5/2/2010:  As LD said in a comment below, a new bill (or amendment?) was passed on Friday, April 30, that already changes this new law. See my new “Update on Arizona Immigration Law” post for more.

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