There has been a lot of talk around the state, the nation, and the world about S.B. 1070, Arizona’s recent illegal immigration bill (note that it’s a bill, not a law… there is a difference). Most of that talk has been included “thoughtful” rhetoric likening Arizona to a racist Nazi state. The phrase “papers, please” has been bandied about everywhere from the traditional media to Saturday Night Live.
Yesterday (4/29/10), Democrats in the U.S. Congress proposed taking steps toward “ending illegal employment through biometric employment verification.” What this means is that the Federal gov’t would require all citizens to carry federally-issued identification in which is embedded DNA or other biometric information. Even the left-leaning Huffington Post called it a “national ID card.” While they claim it would only be used for employment purposes, anyone who has been paying attention to the national ID card conversation that has been ongoing since 9/11 should know better.
That said, where’s the uproar over this Democrat-sponsored nation-wide “papers, please” blanket being thrown over all legal US citizens, in EVERY state. I know, I know… it isn’t a law… yet. But neither is S.B. 1070. I guess that speaker Nancy Pelosi’s words from the healthcare reform fiasco hold true here, too: “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”
Having spent a good portion of my life in California, New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia, I find it a laughable parody of real oppression to hear people calling Arizona a “police state.” Anyone who has ever been pulled over by the New Jersey State Police knows what I’m talking about. Arizona has some of the most liberal (meaning free) gun laws and self-protection-related laws in the entire country. Our state taxes are among the lowest. (Our public education is also, unfortunately, among of the lowest.) But I digress.
Let’s take a look at the bill. (No, I’m not going to include everything, nor am I going to go through all of it line-by-line. You’re smart. You can do it for yourself. I trust you.)
Requires officials and agencies of the state and political subdivisions to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws and gives county attorneys subpoena power in certain investigations of employers. Establishes crimes involving trespassing by illegal aliens, stopping to hire or soliciting work under specified circumstances, and transporting, harboring or concealing unlawful aliens, and their respective penalties.
This requires Arizona officials to comply with existing Federal immigration laws. It also makes it a state crime to be in violation of Federal immigration laws. The text goes on to explain what, exactly, that entails.
Federal law provides that any alien who 1) enters or attempts to enter the U.S. at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, 2) eludes examination by immigration officers, or 3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the U.S. by a willfully false or misleading representation is guilty of improper entry by an alien. For the first commission of the offense, the person is fined, imprisoned up to six months, or both, and for a subsequent offense, is fined, imprisoned up to 2 years, or both (8 U.S.C. § 1325).
OK. That seems to be a pretty clear definition of how federal law sees illegal aliens.
Enough of the background. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the bill that seems to be at the heart of everyone’s heartache:
1. Requires a reasonable attempt to be made to determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state or a county, city, town or political subdivision (political subdivision) if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.
The phrase “legitimate contact” means that a police officer, for instance, cannot legally pull someone over just for D.W.B. (“Driving While Brown”). Does that mean they won’t? No. Does that mean it doesn’t already happen all over the country? Nope. Unfortunately, no law can fix an ignorant, racist mentality. But it can (and hopefully will) punish those officials who act on it.
2. Requires the person’s immigration status to be verified with the federal government pursuant to federal law.
This means that Arizona is required to contact the federal gov’t to see if the person is in violation of federal law.
3. Requires an alien unlawfully present in the U.S. who is convicted of a violation of state or local law to be transferred immediately to the custody of ICE or Customs and Border Protection, on discharge from imprisonment or assessment of any fine that is imposed.
What this paragraph requires is that any illegal alien who has been convicted of breaking a state or local law must be handed over to federal authorities.
4. Allows a law enforcement agency to securely transport an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S. and who is in the agency’s custody to:
a) a federal facility in this state or
b) any other point of transfer into federal custody that is outside the jurisdiction of the law enforcement agency.
Again… federal and federal.
5. Allows a law enforcement officer, without a warrant, to arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the U.S.
Any law enforcement officer can already place a person under arrest for “probable cause.” For “public offense that makes the person removable from the U.S.,” please see above.
6. Prohibits officials or agencies of the state and political subdivisions from being prevented or restricted from sending, receiving or maintaining an individual’s immigration status information or exchanging that information with any other governmental entity for the following official purposes:
a) determining eligibility for any public benefit, service or license provided by any federal, state, local or other political subdivision of this state;
b) verifying any claim of residence or domicile if that verification is required under state law or a judicial order issued pursuant to a civil or criminal proceeding in the state;
c) confirming a detainee’s identity; and
d) if the person is an alien, determining whether the person is in compliance with federal alien registration laws.
What this boils down to is that no Arizona official can stop another Arizona official from upholding this law. In other words, the Mayor of Phoenix cannot order Phoenix Police to look the other way.
7. Disallows officials or agencies of the state or political subdivisions from adopting or implementing policies that limit immigration enforcement to less than the full extent permitted by federal law, and allows a person to bring an action in superior court to challenge an official or agency that does so.
8. Requires the court, if there is a judicial finding that an entity has committed a violation, to order any of the following:
a) that the plaintiff recover court costs and attorney fees;
b) that the defendant pay a civil penalty of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000 for each day that the policy has remained in effect after the filing of the action.
Fines and recovering court costs… blah, blah.
9. Requires the court to collect and remit the civil penalty to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which must establish a special subaccount for the monies in the account established for the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM) appropriation.
Collected monies go to GIITEM. This acronym sounds scandalously similar to GITMO. Hmmm… maybe there is a Bush-Obama conspiracy here…
10. Specifies that law enforcement officers are indemnified by their agencies against reasonable costs and expenses, including attorney fees, incurred by the officer in connection with any action, suit or proceeding brought pursuant to this statute to which the officer may be a party by reason of the officer being or having been a member of the law enforcement agency, except in relation to matters in which the officer is adjudged to have acted in bad faith.
If a cop acts in “bad faith,” they are not protected from lawsuits. Would racial profiling, where no actual crime has been committed, qualify? I believe it would.
The rest of the text goes into the specifics of what constitutes solicitation of work, unlawful transporting, and Arizona’s participation in E-Verify, etc. You can read it for yourself if you’re interested.
Nowhere in the bill is there an allowance for nabbing people off the street just because they are a different color or because they speak with a pronounced accent. Were are the references to specific racial groups or countries of origin?
I know what you’re thinking… “the bill is obviously anti-Mexican.” I’m sure that, for some, it’s easy to interpret it as such. But as the law is written, there’s no reference to race, color, sex, creed, or nationality as meeting the bar for “probable cause.” (See the new amendment below.) Will that stop racists from being racist? Nope. But hopefully, there will be severe penalties that discourage such behavior.
The police cannot legally pull you over for no reason. This is what is known as “probable cause.” Can they just make shit up to pull over people as it is? Damn skippy. Do they? Yep. But, just for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that everything is being done legally, with probable cause.
Let’s suppose that a police officer pulls you over in a minor traffic stop. Do you know what the officer will ask you for? “License, registration, and proof of insurance, please.” You have to prove that you not only have the license to operate a motor vehicle, but that you are authorized to operate that particular vehicle (i.e. that you didn’t steal it), and that you have proof of mandatory insurance (read: institutionalized extortion). Of course, if this interchange happens to take place at the end of a high-speed chase, the cop may be a little less polite.
Can said cop pull you over because he thinks “hmm… that brown guy can’t possibly make enough money to afford a car like that…?” Of course he can. Can he do it legally, using your skin color as his probable cause? No. In fact, doing so would open him up wide to civil lawsuits.
Do some cops already racially profile? I suspect the answer is “yes.” Do TSA employees and convenience store owners racially profile? Probably. How about you? Only you can answer that. One very important question remains: how will this bill be enforced in reality without resorting to racial profiling?
People all over the country have called for boycotts of Arizona and AZ-based companies. That is their right, and I support them expressing themselves. There have even been calls to boycott Arizona Iced Tea on Twitter: “Dear Arizona: If you don’t change your immigration policy, I will have to stop drinking your enjoyable brand of iced tea.” Another person called Arizona Iced Tea “the drink of fascists.” The only problem with this is that the Arizona Iced Tea company was founded, and is based in, New York.
Some are trying to get the Chicago Cubs to boycott Arizona by forbidding the Diamonbacks from playing at Wrigley Field. You wanna see an otherwise disinterested populace get pissed off quickly? Inconvenience them or fuck with their favorite TV show.
Even former Arizona state Senator Alfredo Gutierrez is calling for companies, airlines, and even other states to boycott Arizona. In full disclosure, I find Mr. Gutierrez to be a bigoted, race-baiting, angry man. Every time something remotely related to Mexico comes up in Arizona, he is screaming racism. At times, it seems to me as though he sees racist boogey men under every rock and bougainvillea bush in the state.
Boycotts only affect the innocent who have nothing to do with that which you are boycotting. Why would people from Arizona wish Arizona harm? The only thing that comes to mind is self-interest. If they have a legitimate beef with the bill (i.e. something that actually exists in the bill), I’d like to hear it.
And what’s going to remain in the aftermath after all the hysteria and misinformation dies down? Is the state of Arizona just going to forgive and forget?
This is the sort of ignorance that finally drove me to write this missive. There are a lot of people spewing a lot of very heated words out there. Logic has, once again, taken a back seat to race-baiting and inflamed language.
In his book “Rules for Radicals,” Saul Alinsky outlines several tactics for, what he describes as “how the Have-Nots can take power away from the Haves.” Rule #5 reads: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.”
I recommend you chew on that for a while. When you paint everyone with the same brush, you do both yourself and them a major disservice.
At least the passage of S.B. 1070 has accomplished one thing: people all across the nation, including Washington D.C., are now talking a little more seriously about the federal government’s abject failure in securing the country’s borders and in dealing with illegal immigration.
According to a Gallup poll, Arizona’s new bill (not yet in effect) has majority support. Rasmussen puts the number even higher, claiming: “Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Republicans support the law along with 62% of voters not affiliated with either major party. Democratic voters are evenly divided on the measure.”
Hearken back, if you will, to the healthcare legislation that passed with zero bi-partisan support. Healthcare reform passed despite bi-partisan opposition and was declared by Democrats to be a success. Yet S.B. 1070 has bi-partisan support, but has been declared by Democrats to be “unconstitutional” and “racist.” Is this significant or even relevant? That’s hard to say… but it sure is interesting.
In my own anecdotal research, I’m finding that natural-born Americans of Latin descent seem to have a lot more problem with this bill than legal immigrants do. In fact, the legal immigrants tend to be in favor of it. Koreans, Japanese, Mexican… it doesn’t matter. They are all pissed that other people break the law to come in and take what they had to work for years to earn.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are 1,965,000 Hispanics in Arizona, 91% of whom are from Mexico, making up a total of 30% of the state’s total population. (This does not, presumably, include the estimated 1/2 million illegal aliens–from all countries.) If this is true, then either 100% of the Hispanic population of Arizona opposes the bill and 100% of the non-Hispanic population supports it… or… the bill has far greater Hispanic support than opponents of the bill want you to think.
Other states, including Oklahoma, are now considering similar bills. What may surprise you is that, according to a long-time police officer who called into a radio show, California state law allowed for CA police to arrest on the basis of illegal status until the 1970s. (I have yet to successfully verify this.)
Shakira, one of the sexiest women on the planet (in my drooling opinion), was in town yesterday to lend her voice to the protest: “I’m not an expert on the Constitution but I know the constitution exists for a reason. It exists to protect human beings, to protect the rights of people living in a nation, with or without documents. We’re talking about human beings here.”
This is indicative of the ignorance running rampant out there. I didn’t say “stupidity,” I said “ignorance.” Shakira doesn’t let a little ignorance about the Constitution stop her from commenting. While this is a nice platitude, extended out of the magnanimity of our hearts, it isn’t in the Law. Shakira’s hips may not lie… but they sure don’t seem to know what the hell they’re talking about regarding the US Constitution.
Even the Arizona House’s Democratic watch dog Kyrsten Sinema, when asked by KFYI’s Mike Broomhead (yes, that’s unfortunately his real name) if she thought S.B. 1070 was akin to Naziism, laughed and said it was not. She did have a problem with a couple of portions of the language of the bill, but otherwise did not seem to think it was anywhere near what people have been suggesting. However, she later turned around and, on her Facebook page, described S.B. 1070 as “unconstitutional and wrong for our state.” Which is it? Why does she say one thing in one venue, then something entirely different in another? Pandering, perhaps?
Roger Ebert, noted complainer, suggested the following on his Twitter feed: “Idea for Arizona: Just have them wear a cloth star, easily visible on their topmost outer garment.” This, from a man who rarely gets movie reviews right (to my taste) and who recently said that video games can never be art. I’m sure that a look at his tweets and blog posts won’t expose any sort of obviously hateful agenda. Whoops… I spoke too soon: Sarah Palin on spill: “Our prayers r w/u.” Me: :My prayers r 4/u.” The man obviously has an axe to grind, and has gotten so used to thinking his opinions on movies are important, that his opinions on other topics must be equally important (and correct).
I do not disagree that some US citizens of Latino descent have a real fear of being persecuted. In this day and age, I think damned near everyone in this country feels persecute by someone for some reason. Believe it or not, this white guy shares your concern. For me, it isn’t about race, but about excessive gov’t intrusion into the lives of private, peaceable citizens.
If your knee-jerk reaction is to cry “racism” every time you don’t like something and can’t seem to argue against it logically, you might want to take a look deep inside yourself. Ad hominem attacks (for which unsubstantiated allegations of “racism” qualify) signal the final gasps of a dying grasp on logic and the ability to think clearly and critically. This is dangerous. Hysteria can easily be used to sweep people up in very bad ideas.
I don’t think of things in terms of race. This is rather strange, considering I’m a white guy from a small Iowa town who grew up around fairly open racism among the older generations. I honestly don’t concern myself with it. Quite to the contrary, I generally find people who are different than me, who are from other countries, and who speak other languages, to be highly interesting. And yes, I have the proverbial ethnic friends, from places such as Mexico, Korea, Japan, and many, many other countries.
It may sound strange to you, but I see the people who cry racist the loudest and most often as being the racists. Racism isn’t about crackers hating brown people. It’s about making race the issue in the first place. Making race an issue when it isn’t an issue is offensive. It’s also detrimental to the cause of fighting real racism.
As the song says, “before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.”
You may be asking yourselves… “what does this white boy know about racism?” That’s a fair question. Please allow me answer your question with a question of my own: When was the last time you lived in a place where the open display of signs specifically prohibiting certain ethnic groups were posted?
For 10 years, I lived in Japan, where it was common for me to be seen and treated very differently. I was repeatedly denied entry to clubs. Girls wouldn’t date me because their parents didn’t approve of “foreigners” (which might’ve, in retrospect, just been an excuse not to date me). I was told, by a Japanese, that I was unfit for yoga because I was a foreigner, and couldn’t possibly understand it. This, despite speaking in proper, polite Japanese and following cultural protocols. I didn’t have the heart to remind him that yoga is Indian, making him a foreigner, too. In Japan, it wasn’t uncommon to see signs that said, “No Chinese Allowed.” Yet even most Japanese couldn’t tell the difference between Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese without hearing them speak.
I speak fluent Japanese with a slight northern Japanese accent. If a Japanese doesn’t see my face, they often can’t tell that I’m not Japanese. Yet when they see me, they often pretend they can’t understand me. Or they will feign shock and express how great my Japanese is over the simplest of phrases. It’s so ingrained in them by their culture, that to hear a white guy speaking Japanese like I do just doesn’t compute. No matter how good I am, I’m still just a trained monkey.
The purpose behind this bill, as I see it, is not to legalize or institutionalize the hatred and suspicion of so-called “brown people.” If you read the bill, it specifically pushes off the enforcement of existing federal law onto the federal gov’t. It also outlaws racial profiling.
I don’t want to punish people. I have no interest in denying a man the means to feed his family and give them the life that they deserve. What I have a problem with is the crime that accompanies the behavior. In my opinion, many of those (at least in Arizona) who favor amnesty and the legalization of illegal workers, whether they be Scottsdale Democrats or Mesa Republicans, want one thing: cheap slave labor.
Several years ago, not 15 miles from my apartment, two competing coyotes (Arizona speak for people who smuggle illegals across the border for a high fee, then extort and exploit them) engaged in a high-speed machine gun battle while driving up I-10. Fortunately, I don’t believe any “innocents” were injured.
The murders of federal officials, police, and peaceable ranchers. The human trafficking, drug smuggling, vehicle theft, kidnapping, exploitation, gangs, and violence. This is all a real part of our daily lives in Arizona. We are truly on the front lines of this in ways that residents of Iowa or Wisconsin cannot likely understand.
Finally, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m going to share a story with you. It’s a story I have almost never shared with anyone. I was nearly killed as a direct result of the illegal activities that surround illegal immigration.
Years ago, I was in the outskirts of San Diego for a martial arts seminar with some friends. That night, as we were driving home on I-8, we were passed by a dark-colored van. This van had on no headlights and was traveling at a very high rate of speed. Oh, it was going the wrong way up an interstate highway. In my lane.
The van sped past us on the shoulder so fast, we barely even noticed it was there until it had already flown by. A few days later, I read a news article that mentioned the same night, same time frame, same stretch of road, same van. As it turns out, the van was full of illegal immigrants, being driven by a coyote who was trying to elude the Border Patrol. The driver rolled the van a few miles past where we encountered it.
This just in…
The Arizona Republic has just reported that an amendment has been adopted that changes some of the language used in the bill. Of particular interest is the change to the phrase which formerly read “A law enforcement official or agency … may not solely consider race, color or national origin.” The word “solely” has been stricken, leaving the bill now reading “A law enforcement official or agency … may not consider race, color or national origin.” What this means is that the law itself now specifically forbids the use of racial profiling as probable cause. Governor Brewer has also stated publicly that racial profiling is illegal in the state of Arizona.
I think I’ve said just about all I have to say on the subject. Despite everything I wrote here, I’m generally against new laws. Hell, I’m opposed to a lot of the old ones.