I’m sure almost everyone has heard of the controversial Arizona SB 1070 that Governor Jan Brewer signed and will go into effect at the end of July. What does this new law mean?
The new law makes it a state crime to be in the US illegally. It gives law enforcement (LE) the power to ask for documents of legal residency if they have a reasonable suspicion otherwise. Immigrants who are unable to show documents could be arrested, jailed for up to six months, and fined $2,500. Illegal immigrants will be detained and deported. It also permits lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws. It makes it illegal to hire undocumented workers for labor or knowingly transport them.
Many critics of this bill say that it will result in racial profiling. What is racial profiling? Racial profiling is the use of race, skin color, or nationality/ethnicity to identify a person as a suspect or potential suspect by LE. Gov. Brewer acknowledged this concern and stated that she will ensure that LE agencies be trained and will not resort to racial profiling.
In an ideal world, where everything is perfect and human beings do not have the potential for corruption, yes, this law could work. However, we live in a world where we are judged by our appearances, by our accents, or just by the fact that we speak a language other than English.
Why, two months ago, a man spoke to me in broken English because he heard me speak Hmong to my husband and daughter. “You take this. Peanut. Give them. Squirrels.” I thought he didn’t speak English well. However, once I started talking in English, the man spoke coherent English to me. The man assumed I didn’t speak English because I spoke Hmong. And this isn’t the first time this has happened. It just goes to show the kind of world that we live in. As I stated above, we are judged by our looks, our skin colors, our ethnicities, the clothes that we wear, and the ethnic language that we speak.
I have been reading comments on online blogs, new articles, and forums, in regards to SB 1070. The majority of Americans support this new law. Others don’t. Many Hispanics support this law. Many don’t.
I am torn in the middle when it comes to illegal immigrants. I agree that we shouldn’t allow illegal immigrants in the US. And we should tighten our borders to all illegal immigrants, not just Mexicans.
However, I disagree on this law because no matter what supporters will say, LE will end up racially profiling people, unless they ask EVERYONE they stop for documents. I am wondering how LE are going to implement this law. Maybe like this when a police officer does a traffic stop?
“Good afternoon, sir. May I please have your driver’s license and car registration please.”
“I don’t have my DL with me.”
“You are driving without your driver’s license?”
“Yes. I was in a hurry and I forgot it.”
“Can I see proof of legal residency.”
“I don’t carry that with me sir. It’s at home.”
“Sir, please step out of the vehicle. I’m going to have to take you in for questioning.”
The police officer has a reasonable suspicion because the driver does not have his driver’s license with him, right? However, what is the likelihood that the police officer will ask a White or Black person to go with him for questioning because he suspects that person to be an illegal immigrant? Keep in mind that not all illegal immigrants in the United States are Hispanic. We have illegal immigrants who are Asian, Canadian, Hispanic, and European. However, it is because we share a border with Mexico that we make it a bigger issue to deal with illegal Hispanic population than with the rest of the United State’s illegal immigrants. Does SB 1070 just pertain to illegal Mexican immigrants or all illegal immigrants?
SB 1070 has brought back horrendous memories for residents of Chandler, AZ of the Chandler Roundup that took place in July 1997. LE and Border Patrol officers rounded up hundreds of illegal immigrants in an operation then known as “Operation Restoration.” Over a span of 5 days, officers stopped Hispanic residents (children, adults, and the elderly) to question them. Many illegal immigrants along with legal immigrants were arrested, detained, and deported. Of course, the legal immigrants were released, only after their citizen rights were violated. It was described by the US Senate in the 2004 hearings as the “only major ethnic profiling incident actually related to immigration.”
The United States has an issue with illegal immigrants. This we all know. And we know that our government has tried (but failed) to solve this problem.
During the Great Depression, about 1 million people of Mexican descent were forced or pressured to leave the US. This is referred to as the Mexican Repatriation.
Increase in illegal immigrants prompted President Dwight D. Eisenhower to initiate Operation Wetback. The US Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) worked to remove 1 million illegal immigrants from Southwestern US in 1954. They focused mainly on Mexicans.
These historical accounts, to me, are examples of racial profiling. If you have dark skin color and look Hispanic, you’re suspected of being in the US illegally. Records from the Mexican consulates show that an estimate of 60% of those deported during the Mexican Repatriation were US citizens.
Many say that we should have faith in our LE agencies to do their duty. We should have faith that police officers will not use racial profiling to carry on this new law. There are already so many Americans who doubt the validity of a peace officer. There will be even more who shun away from LE with this new law. If we’re not careful, we will be repeating history. And I have a feeling that we will.