New Fox News piece: Fears of Arizona's Immigration Law Are Bogus

My newest piece starts this way:

When Arizona's new law was signed on Friday, Hispanics demonstrated outside the state capitol in Phoenix, fearful of what it would mean for them. "If a cop sees them and they look Mexican, he's going to stop me," a 18-year-old Hispanic told the Associated Press. "What if people are U.S. citizens? They're going to be asking them if they have papers because of the color of their skin." The young man claimed that he was that even though he was a U.S. citizen he risked being arrested and put in jail.

Other news stories discuss Hispanics believing that they will have to have to carry multiple IDs to avoid prison. "Even if you're legal, you're in fear that maybe your driver's license isn't going to be enough or if you're walking down the street and the police stop you," a 21-year-old University of Arizona college student told CNN. "It's a constant fear we're living in and even legal citizens are afraid to go out."

But it is a dangerous game stirring up fears of people being hunted down and put in jail because of their race or nationality. The law specifically bans picking up someone just because they are Hispanic or even because the person was originally from Mexico or any other country you can read a copy of the law right here. . . .

UPDATE: The BBC has a piece about how upset the Mexican government is about Arizona's new law.
Media Matters quite unintentionally documents incorrect statements by the NY Times and other publications.
UPDATE 2: The phrase "lawful contact" is also discussed here.

What fewer people have noticed is the phrase "lawful contact," which defines what must be going on before police even think about checking immigration status. "That means the officer is already engaged in some detention of an individual because he's violated some other law," says Kris Kobach, a University of Missouri Kansas City Law School professor who helped draft the measure. "The most likely context where this law would come into play is a traffic stop."
As far as "reasonable suspicion" is concerned, there is a great deal of case law dealing with the idea, but in immigration matters, it means a combination of circumstances that, taken together, cause the officer to suspect lawbreaking. It's not race -- Arizona's new law specifically says race and ethnicity cannot be the sole factors in determining a reasonable suspicion. . . .

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger Mike said...

Here is my concern:

If there are already laws that allow for police to check a person's legal status if they are arrested for a crime, then we have to set those situations aside as being included in "reasonable suspicion".

When we are talking about a crime of status (existing in AZ illegally), and not of action (hitting someone for example), what are we left with a things that might make a person reasonably suspicious?

Let us set aside race, language, culture, and any other outward appearances that would be considered profiling, since those supporting this law say that they are not going to profile.

What are we left with? What makes police officer suspect an old white lady of being here illegally? Or a young asian man driving a BMW to his job at the bank?

I cannot think of ANYTHING that would make law enforcement reasonably suspicious of a person's status, that does not somehow lead to profiling.

That's the challenge I want to throw out to the people supporting this. Give us some very practical examples of this concept of reasonable suspicion in action. You guys keep saying it isn't profiling- well, what is it then. Tell us what this looks like in real life. NO ONE has been talking about this, I believe, because just like the rest of us, they have NO IDEA how you suspect someone's immigration status without profiling.

So as you can understand, there are many legal citizens and residents of AZ who are very much in fear that somehow they will be caught without happening to have their proper documentation on them, and maybe even arrested. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute, and really be honest.

My wife is a US citizen, born outside of the US. She was recently having a hard time finding her naturalization papers (turns out her mom still has them). She's totally legal, but what if she couldn't produce the papers. Can you see how this could be scary for someone? How they might feel singled out in this situation?

I myself am white. As a white person, do we really think someone is going to suspect us of being here illegally? Is this fair? Although I understand illegal immigration is a big issue in AZ, this solution does not fit with long-held American values, let alone what is morally just.

Mike K (GA)

4/27/2010 2:57 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home