More on the Ariz. Immigration Law

I know. I know. I have written about Arizona’s immigration law many times. But, considering it is such a divisive issue, I believe it warrants attention. If I had a blog during the health care reform debate, you would have seen a blog post every hour, if not more. Moving on now, let us return to Arizona.

I recently read two articles on Salon.com that got me thinking.

The first article, “Liberals are making the wrong case against racial profiling”, makes the case that liberals need to take the position that racial profiling is morally wrong, not that it doesn’t work. Because the fact of the matter is, it does work. But, just because something works doesn’t mean it is right.

Ben Eidelson, of Salon.com, writes:

Arguing over the accuracy of racial profiling also obscures the deeper and more menacing moral problems with the practice. Arizona’s new law, for instance, will ostracize innocent Latinos, entrench racial suspicions, and lend the government’s endorsement to hostile stereotypes about who “looks American.” It will serve as a regular and painful reminder to Latino Americans that, in the eyes of many, they don’t belong in their own neighborhood. It will poison the interactions between citizens and the police who are supposed to protect them and whose salaries they pay. None of these concerns are undermined by the obvious fact that Latinos are more likely than others to be illegal immigrants.

Similarly, the problem with using racial profiling to catch terrorists isn’t simply that, as Michael Bloomberg once said, “terrorists come in all sizes and shapes and forms.” After all, nobody has seriously proposed screening only Arabs or Muslims. Rather, the question is whether officials should consider ethnicity as one factor in deciding whom to examine more or less closely. We should exclude race and religion from those judgments not because everybody is equally likely to be a threat, but because it would be wrong to institutionalize the alienating suspicion already faced by innocent Muslims and Arab-Americans in their schools, workplaces and communities.

Making this moral argument means acknowledging that the decision to forgo profiling comes at a cost. In some cases, we could probably catch more criminals with the same investment if we were willing to single out people on account of their race. But while fairness may come at a price, we don’t have to pay in the form of more crime unless we want to. If we care about immigration enforcement and airport security, we’re free to invest as much as we want in them. It may simply cost us more — in time, money or convenience — to achieve the same level of success without racial discrimination. Many Americans are fond of the slogan that “freedom isn’t free.” Why should we expect that fairness will be?

There are also those on the right who try to make the argument that racial profiling will not be used nor does it have to be used since law enforcement will simply ask for paper work after they are ‘reasonable suspicion’ to stop the person. Law enforcement’s ‘reasonable suspicion’ can be minor, technical infractions as a pretext for a robust immigration search that may result in an individual’s arrest, detention, or deportation. Law enforcement in Arizona,now, knowing they are required to ‘seek’ out illegal immigrants, will simply enforce these minor,technical infractions a disproportional amount on Latino or Hispanic persons. It is unreasonable to think that law enforcement will be color blind in their enforcement of Arizona’s immigration law.

The second article, “Why Arizona’s immigration law should concern all minorities”, makes the case the all minorities could be effected and should be concerned by Arizona’s immigration law.

Dawinder Sidhu, of Salon.com, writes:

Who counts as “us” and who counts as “them” has shifted throughout modern American history. For decades, African-Americans were “them,” judged to be members of an inferior race and denied basic rights. In the aftermath of 9/11, “us” and “them” were reshuffled as Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim were targeted and labeled “the other.” Now, with the passage of Arizona’s new immigration law, which enables police to demand papers of anyone “reasonably suspected” to be an illegal immigrant, Hispanics face significant ostracism.

Members belonging to “them” groups are profiled, harassed and subjected to discrimination, all on account of their appearance. Despite these common experiences, meaningful solidarity among the groups has not always followed. For example, while black organizations have criticized the Arizona law, it appears that African-Americans on the ground approve of or are ambivalent about the law. These attitudes not only compound Hispanics’ isolation, they also undermine social justice more generally.

………..Here are some specific reasons why all minorities in America — an African-American in Baltimore or Muslim in Detroit, for example — should care about and speak out against the immigration law facing their Hispanic brethren in Arizona:

It codifies discriminatory thinking………

It encourages and sanitizes profiling……..

It is a contagion of discriminatory law……

It will provoke copycat legislation…….

It triggers a moral imperative to defend Hispanics…..

It generates goodwill that can be banked…..

This article caught my attention because I never thought about the effect it could have on other minorities in the US. I only focused on its effect on Latinos. The first three points made effect other minorities the most; it codifies discriminatory thinking, encourages and sanitizes profiling, contagion of discriminatory law. Arizona’s immigration law prolongs and list stereotypes such as African-Americans are dangerous or Muslims are terrorist. Because of this it will create an arena for discriminatory thinking. Arizona’s immigration law requires a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that someone is an illegal immigrant, which can also be applied to the ‘driving while black’ theory. Research as shown that blacks, when pulled over for a traffic violation (speeding or car defect) are more likely than whites to be arrested, have their car searched, and have force used against them. Research has also shown that whites were pulled over more for speeding while blacks were pulled over more for car defects, which can be attributed to the officers stereotypical belief that blacks are poor, therefore, more likely to have car defects.Lastly, the Arizona law, left unchallenged and on the books, may spawn other policies and practices in which those looking a certain way will be subject to heightened, different treatment under the cover of law.

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Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 5:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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