Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Racial Profiling is Now Legal in Arizona

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This afternoon, Arizona’s discriminatory anti-immigration law was made official by Republican Governor Jan Brewer. This, even though President Obama condemned the bill, directing the Justice Department to investigate the legality of the legislation. Arizona’s odious new law, of course, allows police to stop and to question anyone if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal immigrant.

Shameful, discriminatory, odious.

It’s reported that Republican Governor Brewer has a tough election race this year, and with polls revealing 70% of the state supports the discriminatory law, her signature was expected. Let’s hope that Arizona citizens don’t find themselves indiscriminately pulled over for “driving while brown.”

Yesterday, Anderson Cooper asked Rep. Kavanaugh–one of the bill’s sponsors: “Can you tell if someone is an illegal immgrant by looking at them?”

Kavanaugh’s response: “Absolutely not.”

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Interesting to hear Kavanaugh skirt the question of racial profiling. Even Governor Brewer went to great lengths after signing the bill to assure her constituents that racial profiling would not happen. In both Kavanaugh’s and Brewer’s language, there seem to be preemptive arguments against the racial bias that is implicitly, if not explicitly, written into the law.

As a person of color–and one who is often mistaken as Latino instead of Filipino (and I do not think of Latinos as less than; I’m simply acknowledging the fact that Americans of Hispanic origin face extreme, unjust discrimination in border states), I’m thinking twice before visiting the great state of Arizona.

Say I’m in Phoenix. What’s to prevent a police officer from asking me for identification at a sidewalk cafe? What would be our exchange if I forgot my driver’s license (or does the law necessitate I always carry my U.S. passport)? What legal protections would I have in this situation? As a person of color, are my civil liberties–to move freely in this country without fear of harassment, or worse, imprisonment–the same as Americans of any race?

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Filed under: immigration, , , , , , , ,

5 Responses

  1. […] Still hard for me to believe that the state of Arizona has enacted such shameful, hateful, extremely odious legislation. […]

  2. LADY says:

    It the same law as the federal law. Shameful, hateful, extremely odious is national leaders not protection our borders and citizens.

  3. LADY says:

    All americans are asked for identification. Try to focus, there is no issue if they are not illegals.

  4. Guy says:

    @Lady

    “Illegal” is an adjective, not a noun. That right-wing neologism conflates the circumstantial property, “being illegal” with the person it is applied to, as if he/she is by nature “illegal” and not just by circumstance. “Undocumented immigrant” at least recognizes the person at issue and the fact that their status may change, i.e., with documentation.

    Regarding your “try to focus” comment, the real issue here is that this new law is unconstitutional on civil liberties grounds, as it violates the first, fourth and fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution. And that Constitution applies to all persons in the U.S., not just to citizens of a given documented status. Which is, in part, why the right-wing belief in the suspension of habeas corpus, etc., for alleged terrorists on U.S. soil is either disingenuous or outright ignorant.

  5. LADY says:

    ‘illegal’ is an adjective; however, ‘illegals’ is and can be used as a noun just like the ‘uninformed’ do not know.

    American citizens are asked for identification everyday. Further, those here on a visa are required to keep it with them and to show it upon demand.

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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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