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Racial Profiling Is the Law

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Is The Law Fair?

Arizona ought to be congratulated for managing to incorporate Nazi, Soviet, and Israeli racist and xenophobic laws into a smorgasbord of a bill under the guise of "immigration reform". Here's the problem with SB 1070: it punishes you for being an immigrant, legal or not. The Arizona immigration law requires everyone in Arizona to carry his/her legal documents, and if you happen to be a Hispanic, Middle Eastern, or African looking person, chances are the police will randomly stop you on the sidewalk and ask you to present documents verifying you are in the United States legally. However, such unfortunate incidents will not happen to individuals who do not resemble an immigrant. That is called racial profiling, and it goes against something called the Constitution.

If individuals are not able to provide documentation proving they are in the United States legally, they can face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for the first offense, a misdemeanor trespass. A second offense would be considered a felony with a fine of $1000. Arizona and at least ten other states that are contemplating a copy-cat bill to SB 1070 are mandating racial profiling by police officer and giving them the green light to harass people whose only crime is being born into a race that is not white.

We've seen this mantra before by the conservative states, but SB 1070 is the most brazen assault on the rights of immigrants to date. It requires police to check the legal documents of any person they come into "lawful contact" with. Lawful contact is a blanket statement, and the law was worded in an ambiguous way in order to afford police officers rights that directly contradict the Constitution and Bill of Rights. What would cause a police officer to interact with a person who hasn't committed a crime except for the person's race? SB 1070 reiterates the distrust between minorities and law enforcement. Why would any immigrant call into report a crime in progress in their neighborhood when the police might very well arrest them for not carrying their Green Card or naturalization documents?

Republicans, in their defense, have never really held any regard for the Constitution and have been the party of torture, war crimes, and the suspension of Miranda rights. SB 1070 is a mere reflection of the absurdity that runs in that demographic. The Arizona law conflicts the Constitution and Bills of Rights in countless measures. First and foremost, Arizona is creating a state law regarding immigration, which contradicts the already existing federal law regarding immigration. The Constitution has a Supremacy Clause, which grants the authority to regulate US borders exclusively to the federal government.

SB 1070 further contradicts several amendments to the Constitution:

5th and 6th Amendments: There is a due process in law, and everyone has the right to trial by jury. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise by the state. The Arizona law works in a reverse way: you're guilty by default unless you can prove that you're a legal citizen. Furthermore, there's this concept of Miranda Rights. You don't have to tell an officer anything without the presence of a lawyer. Imagine what would happen to an immigrant who attempts to exercise this right while being harassed for his skin tone in Arizona.

14th Amendment: The law applies equally to everyone, and you cannot treat someone differently based on race, religion, and creed. The equal protection clause in this amendment further states "no state shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." In short, it prohibits racial profiling, which as we've seen, some states have a problem controlling. The 14th Amendment and the Naturalization Act of 1798 do not require anyone to carry papers verifying their status as a citizen or not.

Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer's support and subsequent signing of SB 1070 shouldn't flabbergast anyone. During her stint as secretary of state, 100,000 voters, the overwhelming majority of them Hispanic, found their voter applications rejected. Brewer claimed these individuals were not citizens and that their applications were fraudulent. A two year investigation followed by a federal prosecutor, who couldn't find a single case with enough evidence to try in Arizona. David Iglesias is no longer a prosecutor for his refusal to fabricate a case of illegal immigrant voter fraud, and his firing was demanded by George Bush and Karl Rove.

It must be conceded, however, that there are illegal immigrants, and the overwhelming majority are from Mexico. What the Republicans won't tell you is these immigrants are the result of oppressive economic policies such as NAFTA. Yes, the same sweetheart NAFTA touted by the Republicans has displaced millions of workers in Mexico who, with little choice, flood into the United States. For now, the world will have to wait and see how Arizona police define "reasonable suspicion" in determining whether or not you are a possible illegal immigrant.

Author of this article: Huda Jawad
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