I agree with President Obama that Arizona’s new immigration law is ‘misguided’.
Governor Jan Brewer‘s unwavering signature on SB 1070 marked the beginning of this generation’s civil rights era.
This new law requires police agencies across Arizona to investigate the immigration status of every person they come across whom they have ‘Reasonable Suspicion’ to believe is in the country unlawfully.
Reasonable Suspicion’… that’s where I believe the problem lies.
‘Reasonable Suspicion’ is like the 1954 decision in Brown VS the Board of Education where the Supreme Court ordered states to integrate schools with ‘Deliberate Speed’. Well, for some southern states, ’Deliberate Speed’ took three years and longer. It took President Eisenhower sending federal troops to Little Rock - bringing federal troops to the south for the first and only time since the Civil War, to help Arkansas define ’Deliberate Speed’ to mean ’integrate now.’
So, if ‘Reasonable Suspicion’ gets interpreted too loosely, like a young lady with brown skin, or a van with more than two people in it, or a young man with a bandana and baggy pants named Francisco, maybe President Obama should show the strong arm of the Federal government – as Eisenhower did – and federalize the Arizona National Guard so they can help law enforcement in Arizona define ‘Reasonable Suspicion’ and assure the Governor’s promise that she will not tolerate racial discrimination or racial profiling – is kept.
Now, I can’t say everyone who supports this law is racist. But I have ‘Reasonable Suspicion’ that the results of this law will produce racism.
What this law really reminds me of are the Black Codes - the various legislation passed by Southern states at the end of the Civil War to control the labor, movements and activities of newly-freed slaves. It also reminds me of the Jim Crow laws that states and cities enacted to continue the racial repressive practices of segregation. Then, and now, there were different laws for different people. One law for Whites. Another law for Blacks. Now, in Arizona, they have one law for Whites and another law for Mexicans.
If Arizona really wanted to assure their law was not discriminatory, why not require that everyone in Arizona or visiting Arizona carry proof of citizenship and be required to show it at any encounter with a law enforcement officer. With that, the interpretation of ‘Reasonable Suspicion’ would be removed from the call of officers and everyone would be treated the same. But that version of the bill would never have passed because everyone would never agree to suffer the inconveniences of having to carry ‘papers’ proving citizenship and the possibility of jail if you happen not to have the papers on you.
When will Americans accept that we are all - Whites, Blacks, Asians, Africans, Mexicans – all of us – legal and illegal – human and equal in every way? We must stop using nationalism, patriotism and even legalism to cloak racism. We must live up to our Declaration of Independence and realize that all men are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Now isn’t the pursuit of happiness what most immigrants come to America for?
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