Strike Down the Arizona Immigration Bill

Legalized racial profiling. That’s what will be at stake when the Supreme Court decides whether to uphold or strike down the Arizona immigration bill passed two years ago. On April 23, 2010, in an unprecedented move, Governor Jan Brewer (R) signed the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act”, which effectively legalized racial profiling in the state of Arizona. The bill states that law enforcement officers are required to try to determine the immigration status of any individual (pulled over for some other violation) suspected of being an illegal immigrant. Supporters loudly claim that this is not racial profiling. I ask them: How is it not? How do you think a law enforcement officer in Arizona is going to determine whether or not someone may be in the country illegally? Do you really think he’s going to ask a white man to supply documents proving he’s a U.S. resident? The answer, of course, is no. No police officer would ask a white man to prove he’s a citizen. However, if the driver was Latino, and “looked” illegal, he would immediately ask for proof of citizenship. That’s what would happen, and anyone who denies it is kidding themselves.

It’s a shame that to this day, the United States continues to depress illegal immigrants to “second class” status. We think of them as criminals, and as such, really don’t care if they are profiled and deported to Mexico. However, the repercussions that would come from an upholding of this bill would be catastrophic. Not only would it make it even more difficult for Latino immigrants to find work, it would also pave the way for rampant racial profiling. With a law like this, racial profiling is inevitable. The only way for a police officer to determine immigration status without directly demanding proof (of which very few people carry the right documentation) is via profiling. Giving law enforcement the right to profile in order to identify potential threats sets a dangerous precedent. If the Supreme Court upholds this bill, it will also be upholding racial profiling as a means of identifying potential illegal immigrants. To me, this is the ultimate disgrace.

A great man once wrote that all men were created equal. That means that we all have an equal opportunity to succeed and live our life in a way that we see fit (according to the law). I understand why people support this bill. They feel that the Federal government has been dragging its feet, and that Arizona was forced to act in its own defense. However, illegal immigrants are not an invading army. They are people, just like you and me. I wouldn’t want a policeman profiling me, and using my race to determine whether I need to produce proof of my residency. As such, how is it right for me to say that officers should be able to do that to Latinos? I shudder to think what our government would do with the power to identify potential “law-breakers” merely by their race.