The passage last week of SB 1070 has led to the legalization of the nation’s most draconian racial profiling scheme yet. This bill, now signed into law in my former home state of Arizona, would make it a crime to be an illegal immigrant anywhere in the state of Arizona. The Arizona State Legislature has declared that a person anywhere in Arizona without immigration papers, on land that is either public or private, is now “trespassing.” Every state, county and town official interacting with any person in Arizona must if possible determine whether the person is an illegal alien and must transmit that information on to the feds. Police officers in Arizona are required to detain any person they come upon and suspect may be an illegal alien. This new law makes it a crime to not have documentation papers on your person. And if any Arizonan (hello, Minutemen) decides any police officer or police department or fire department or welfare department or public health department or sanitation department or dog catching department isn’t sniffing out and detaining suspected illegal immigrants stringently enough, she or he can file a lawsuit against that officer or department.
The effects of this bill are broad and immediate. If you are an illegal immigrant and your house is on fire, you can’t call the fire department because the fire department will be required under law to check you and report you to the feds. If an illegal immigrant and you’re raped, you’d better not call the cops, because you’ll be checked and jailed and deported. If you’re an illegal immigrant and your employer is poisoning you in his factory or having you beaten, you’d better not go to a county hospital for treatment, because you’ll be checked and reported and deported. Want to create an underground economy in Arizona in which people are ground down and exploited even more than they are now? Congratulations: SB 1070 does it.
Who is going to be targeted under this law? Who are the “suspected illegal immigrants”? FOX News analysts have it figured out, and they don’t have a problem with it:
“I don’t think there’s really anything wrong as far as racial profiling, stopping people who are coming in illegally. I mean, you’re not looking for a blond haired, blue eyed Swede most of the time.” …
“A lot of the critics are saying this is racial profiling. Duh! They’re coming from another country. That’s what you do. You have to look at them and see who they are before you know they’re legal or illegal. I don’t think that’s a fair criticism.” …
“It’s racial profiling, to be sure, cops know if there’s a van full of dark-skinned men with lawnmowers packed into the back of a pick-up truck…that’s what they’re talking about.”
Someone who has not lived in Arizona, or who has only shuttled back and forth between to Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport and a gated golf course, may not be aware that Arizona is filled with “dark-skinned men.” Many of them have lawnmowers. Some of them travel in vans and pick-up trucks. Millions of “dark-skinned men” and dark-skinned women living in Arizona are American citizens, and many more are legal residents. Police officers (and firefighters and health workers and dogcatchers) are now legally required to check for immigration documents if they have a suspicion dark-skinned Arizonans could be illegal immigrants. And if those dark-skinned Arizonans don’t have any proof of their citizenship on their bodies, it doesn’t matter whether they’re American citizens or not. It’ll be off to detention with them. And if the police departments (and fire departments and health departments and dog catchers) don’t do it, the Minutemen now have standing to take them to court and force them to do it.
Americans from Arizona to California to Florida to Minnesota to Illinois to Connecticut and beyond are protesting this law that creates a police state and threatens the liberties and security of people in Arizona, citizens and noncitizens alike. Americans everywhere are getting upset about this because our liberties are guaranteed by the United States Constitution, and when their applicability is eroded anywhere, they are threatened everywhere else.
The LegalizeAZ website is a center for information updates as protests spread further. At 5 pm this afternoon in Minneapolis Minnesota, for example, people are gathering at the The Hilton Hotel on 1001 Marquette Ave South to voice their outrage at SB 1070, taking advantage of media following Republican Presidential possibility Mike Huckabee as he travels to give a speech. At 7 pm tonight, people are gathering outside a detention facility at 1930 Beach St, Broadview, Illinois for a protest vigil in solidarity with the people of Arizona. Keep checking back at with the LegalizeAZ website or at the Legalize AZ twitter feed.
Update: Also see this list of dozens and dozens of protest marches across the USA planned for May 1, 2010.