Last month, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law radical new changes to the state’s immigration policy.
Facing a storm of political opposition from frustrated Arizonians and seeing no hope for a legislative shift on the federal level, the Arizona Legislature acted independently and enacted changes that a recent McClatchy-Ipsos poll found 61 percent of Americans and 64 percent of voters approved of and wanted in their state.
The law makes it a crime for immigrants not to carry, at all times, documentation proving their immigration status. It also requires police to detain and question anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant.
Arizona’s attempt to protect the American workforce and limit crimes by undocumented illegal immigrants falls short of its goal since it amounts to legalized racial profiling, which will ensure the harassment of law-abiding citizens at levels unseen since the Jim Crow era of the South.
This law is targeted at Arizona’s illegal immigrant population, which consists largely of Mexicans. Therefore, it’s safe to assume police will target members of this demographic.
It would be impossible for anyone – not just police officers – to differentiate between racial categories because these are social constructions, invented by humans and scientifically proven as an ineffective way to differentiate consistently among human populations.
Therefore, police could stop people, and potentially arrest them if they forgot their ID that day, for nothing more than looking too much like a Hispanic to the investigating officer.
Some Hispanics have light skin, and some illegal immigrants aren’t Hispanic at all and may come from a variety of national and ethnic backgrounds.
With this in mind, Arizona should then stop and question everyone, regardless of skin color, language spoken, occupation held or any other possible unique attribute.
However, this would mean living in a police state, where, like Nazi-Germany, one may constantly be stopped and asked, “Papers?” by every passing authority figure.
While many may have no problem with being stopped by police and asked for identification while driving, at an airport, at a nightclub or at any other secure place, there should be no tolerance for the intrusiveness created by detaining someone because of their racial attributes.
When it comes to immigration reform, government at all levels should begin targeting American employers who offer illegal immigrants the financial incentives for staying, not law-abiding members of a racial minority.