Thursday, April 29, 2010

AZ Senate Bill 1070- one big birdcage?

As I was reading the news today, I looked at the new laws that are being implemented in Arizona and I was particularly struck by the one regarding immigration. AZ Senate Bill 1070 includes the following:
-It is a state crime to be in the United States illegally
-Legal Immigrants must carry documentation
-With “Reasonable suspicion” Police must check for documents
-Citizens can sue local law enforcement for not enforcing the law

Immediately, bells and red flags fly up everywhere for me. How is this not racial profiling? When Fox News interviewed one of the state senators, Republican Russell Pearce, he laughed and completely dismissed the critique. I don’t see how you can dismiss that- in some way doesn’t it practically mandate racial profiling? That is part of the argument critics are making of the bill. For example, let’s say I’m from Canada. You have all seen me- I’m very pasty with blue eyes and blonde hair. Now let’s say that I’m here illegally from Canada. Do you think police officers are more likely to stop me on the street and ask for my papers or a Hispanic woman that was born and grew up in Arizona and whose parents are legal citizens? I am not saying that all police officers are racist, but in a border state with Mexico with an immigration law like that, I highly doubt a police officer would give me a second look and would ask for the birth certificate of the Hispanic woman. Immigration is a very complicated issue and it shouldn’t be treated lightly, however, I do not see how a law such as this AZ Senate Bill 1070 will do anything but impede the rights of legal citizens. Yes, there are definitely a lot of illegal immigrants in this country, and yes we should do something about it but I do not think this bill is a step in the right direction. This bill reminds me of the birdcage analogy. I feel that this bill is effectively putting up bars every single time a Hispanic person walks down the street. I also think that the psychological oppression that Fanon discusses will definitely come into play here. Even completely legal citizens might be afraid to walk down the street without their birth certificate on them at all times. Do you think this is racial profiling? What are your thoughts?

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